Paris – The Francophone Association for Human Rights (AFDH) has expressed deep concern regarding France’s ongoing support of the Libyan National Army (LNA) leader, Khalifa Haftar and the continuous selling of arms to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt which risk being used in Libya.
In a letter to members of French Parliament, AFDH detailed France’s role in the political rise of commander Haftar and noted France’s attempt at validating his abuses in the eyes of the international community whilst the Libyan leader mobilized a wide-scale war. Paris has also upheld the narrative that France is “fighting terrorism” by supporting the warlord against Islamists in Tripoli. However, the Libyan general has been repeatedly accused of ordering his soldiers to commit war crimes and been complicit in extrajudicial killings all whilst trying to seize the capital to gain military dictatorship.
Recently, AFDH has grown increasingly concerned by France’s efforts to include the Libyan leader in the political process in regards to the city of Sirte – a geographical interest which seems to be the gateway to major oil facilities that Haftar wants to exploit to fund the use of mercenaries and purchases of arms.
Although France denies selling arms directly to the LNA, France is a known supplier of weapons to the UAE and Egypt – and both countries have been unconcealed in their support of Haftar. UN panel experts have detailed reports of blatant violations where the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey have supplied weapons to Libya, flouting the EU arms embargo on the country. The EU code of conduct on arms sales from 2008 says that arms should not be sold if there is a clear risk they might be diverted to an undesirable end-user, or used against friendly and allied targets such as Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA).
Since 2019, around 200,000 people have been displaced since the resurgence of the conflict. Heavy shelling and fighting has destroyed people’s homes, damaged infrastructure and conflict-related incidents have damaged hospitals and medical facilities including the killing of medical workers. Thousands of civilians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict and Haftar’s militia left mass graves where hundreds of bodies were uncovered earlier this year.
AFDH believes that any collaboration between France and Khalifa Haftar and his army undermines any chance for a “political solution” that President Emmanuel Macron is apparently pursuing. We think that France is not only backing a criminal but validating the atrocities committed against innocent civilians. The country’s continued support is only adding fuel to the fire and making a peaceful resolution to this civil war entirely unattainable.
AFDH called on members of the French Parliament to launch an internal investigation into the country’s involvement in Libya in regards to arms sales both directly and indirectly to ensure that France is not violating the arms embargo.