July 20, 2024
Italian authorities seize Chinese drones bound for Libya amidst political turmoil

Italian authorities seize Chinese drones bound for Libya amidst political turmoil

Libya, entrenched in chronic political instability, has become a fertile ground for various illicit activities amid its split governance. The country is presently divided between two rival administrations: the Government of National Unity (GNU) in Tripoli, supported by local militias and Turkey, and the House of Representatives in Benghazi, backed by the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar, with military and political backing from Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.

Marshal Haftar, a pivotal figure in Libyan politics, has recently strengthened ties with Moscow.

Russia, seeking to expand its influence in Africa, has provided military assistance to the LNA, including through paramilitary groups and arms shipments, enabling Haftar to maintain control over Cyrenaica and Fezzan.

Against this backdrop, Italian authorities made a significant discovery.

During a check at the Gioia Tauro port in Calabria, the Italian customs and financial police (Guardia di Finanza) seized two Chinese Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drones concealed among wind turbine blades in six containers.

Identified as Wing Loong II drones, each weighing over three tons, the drones were destined for Benghazi, in violation of the United Nations arms embargo imposed on Libya.

The seizure was conducted based on information provided by the United States, underscoring international involvement in monitoring arms trafficking to Libya.

Moreover, this case appears linked to a Canadian investigation uncovering a network involved in the illegal sale of Chinese drones and military equipment to Libya.

A Quebec resident, a former employee of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), was arrested for his role in this scheme, which also aimed to sell Libyan oil to sanctioned entities.

This incident highlights the complex web of international interests and clandestine operations intersecting in Libya’s unstable environment.

It underscores ongoing efforts by global powers to enforce arms embargoes and prevent the escalation of conflict in the region, where geopolitical rivalries often exacerbate internal divisions and fuel violence.

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