News / Middle East

Arms Watchdog Suspects Belarus-Libya Transports

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, right, and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi seen during a welcome ceremony in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2008
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, right, and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi seen during a welcome ceremony in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2008
James Brooke

A leading arms trade watchdog group suspects that Libya received a shipment of military equipment from Belarus, as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi began a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, reports that an Ilyushin IL-76 military cargo plane left Belarus two weeks ago and flew to Libya. The plane took off from Baranovichi, a Belarusian military base that inherited a huge stockpile of weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The plane flew to Sebha, a base deep in the Sahara that is still controlled by Gadhafi loyalists.

The information comes from Hugh Griffiths, a British arms control expert for SIPRI. "Sebha is a very interesting airport because it is still under the control of Gadhafi.  It’s surrounded by an area that is controlled by a tribe that is quite loyal, fiercely loyal, to Gadhafi.  Gadhafi spent some time growing up in Sebha.  He went to school there," he said.

Griffiths noted that the military cargo flight took place before a United Nations arms embargo imposed on Libya on Saturday.  He said that surplus Soviet weapons from Belarus have shown up in many conflicts in Africa. "The kinds of weapons that Belarus has stockpiled, like Ukraine, are the kinds of weapons used in poor man’s wars - cheap, readily available, mass-produced weaponry, left over the from the Cold War," he said.

On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon charged that Belarus violated an international arms embargo on the Ivory Coast by sending three attack helicopters to the forces of President Laurent Gbagbo.  Last December, that West African nation’s election commission declared that Mr. Gbagbo lost presidential elections.  He has refused to step down.

Belarus is also hemmed in by international sanctions imposed after disputed presidential elections late last year.  After the voting on December 19, Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko declared victory and threw most of his opponents in jail.

"It is straightforward defamation because we are not selling arms or any type of weapons to Libya," said Belarus Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh speaks from Minsk.

But 18 months ago, Khamis Gadhafi, the Libyan leader’s youngest son, visited Belarus to watch military exercises with President Lukashenko and Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev.  A graduate of Russian military academies, Khamis Gadhafi is a fluent Russian speaker and has spoken publicly about buying arms from Belarus.

In the current uprising, he is leading the Khamis Brigade, a special forces unit, in attacks on rebels around Tripoli.

SIPRI expert Griffiths said that last week, a Falcon 900 executive jet belonging to Moammar Gadhafi flew twice into Minsk airport.  He said the passenger seats were in place, ruling out the transport of heavy cargo.

Griffiths noted that Mr. Gadhafi maintained close ties in the 1990s with West African warlords - gang leaders who paid their bills with diamonds. "That is one of the very few items you can ship out on an executive jet that is non-traceable. This is a couple of days before the U.N. freeze came into effect," he said.

"What we are facing here, I believe, is clear and open speculation, and again defamation.  Because I can assure you that no flights from Libya entered Belarus during those days," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Savinykh, from From Minsk.

With both the governments of Libya and Belarus now under the magnifying glass of international sanctions, scrutiny of this shadowy relationship is expected to only increase in coming days.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid