The Criminal Role of Saudi Arabia and UAE

Mahmoud Refaat

War crimes and crimes against humanity have been perpetrated by the belligerents in Libya and continue to make victims. It is necessary to conduct thorough investigations into the actions of Haftar and his seconds, who participated in massacres of civilians, such as in Tarhunah. These individuals must be prosecuted and convicted.


2. Emerging UAE Power to Oppress Libyan

Human Rights Watch report today that the US should withdraw its offer to sell weapons to the UAE. It should suspend all future sales until the UAE ceases illegal airstrikes on Yemen and Libya and ceases weapon support and supply.

On November 10, 2020, the U.S. State Department formally notified the U.S. Congress that the government plans to sell weapons, including aircraft, to the UAE for $23.37 billion including aviation ammunition and air-to-ground ammunition.

He mentioned that the UAE must defend itself against Iran, and mentioned the UAE’s diplomatic agreement to normalize relations with Israel.

Sarah Hovinsky, head of the Washington Bureau of Human Rights, said the authorities ignored the massive evidence of illegal killings of civilians in Yemen and other attacks by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“Officials hope to reward the UAE for recognizing Israel, but this does not mean complicity in the murderscarried out in Libya and Yemen with the direct assistance of the military”.

The BBC has uncovered new evidence that a drone operated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) killed 26 unarmed cadets at a military academy in Libya’s capital Tripoli in January 2020.

At the time of the strike on 4 January, Tripoli was under siege by the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA). It has denied responsibility for the attack and suggested the cadets had been killed by local shelling. But evidence indicates the cadets were hit by a Chinese Blue Arrow 7 missile.

2.1 Report on Human Rights

Geneva (February 25, 2016)-A report released by the United Nations* on Thursday documents widespread violations and abuses that have occurred in Libya since the beginning of 2014. The report recommends urgent action to combat impunity and strengthen and reform the judicial system.

The human rights situation in Libya only occasionally makes headlines. The United Nations Verkhovna Rada said: “Many state and non-state actors have been accused of very serious violations and abuses. In many cases, this can be equated to war crimes.” Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Raad Al Hussein.

The recorded violations and abuse are related to the following:

Illegal killings: Since 2014, all conflict areas and most major armed groups have reported cases, including executions, captives, detentions, kidnappings or being deemed indiscriminate.

People: Many of the attacks since 2014 seem to have been especially in densely populated residential areas such as Benghazi, Tripoli, Warsaw, the Nafusa Mountains and southern Libya. Adequate precautions have not been taken to protect civilians and people and property protected by international humanitarian organizations.

Torture and ill-treatment: Torture is particularly common in detention centers. According to reports, the detention was beaten by plastic pipes or cables, and the long-term suspension was stress, solitary confinement, execution, lack of food or water, sexual threats and extortion.

Torture caused the deaths of prisoners in various places of detention, including various military police and military intelligence agencies.

Arbitrary Detention: After the armed conflict in 2011, thousands of people were still detained, most of whom did not give due consideration to their cases; some were held in secret or unidentifiable facilities operated by armed groups.

Almost nothing has been done for judicial review of the legality of these detentions, and even if there is a release, the release order is not always followed.

Kidnapping and Enforced Disappearances: Enforced disappearances have been accused of national forces and armed groups on several occasions.

Discrimination Against Women: Since 2014, armed groups have launched multiple attacks on militants. The murder of Salwa Bugaygis, Farikh Al-Berkawi and Intissar Al-Hasaeri and other prominent female activists, as well as the threats to many others, the elimination of harassment and assaults, seem to convey a broader message that women should not speak publicly.

The fear of retaliation, stigma, family pressure or injury proves that dances are difficult to record. In one case, a woman said that she was kidnapped by a member of an armed group in Tripoli and was repeatedly drugged and raped within six months.

According to data, six 11-year-old girls were victims of sexual violence by the same group of human rights defenders and journalists: human rights defenders have been victims of murder, attempted, kidnapping, threats, surveillance and attacks on their houses and buildings.

Fearing this kind of behavior, the high profile of the attackers and the perpetrators’ impunity, many human rights defenders and journalists who have been murdered, death threatened, and arrested are hiding or fleeing.

Migrants: Many migrants are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by authorities, armed groups and human traffickers. They have been subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, forced labor, extortion, human trafficking and sexual violence for a long time.

Sub-Saharan Africans are particularly vulnerable as immigrants. They were sexually abused and exploited inside and outside the detention facility. A large number of immigrants are still in detention without judicial supervision, and there are at least 3,245 in western Libya alone.

Children: It also records the forced recruitment and use of children by ISIS sworn groups in hostilities. According to reports, some people were forced to engage in religious and military activities.

In training sessions and beheading videos, some people said they were sexually assaulted. Zaid said: “The most striking element of this report is that impunity and the inherent shortcomings of the justice system are still widespread in Libya.

The High Commissioner added: “This report clearly shows that the justice system has no resources or Ability to conduct immediate, independent and credible investigations, or bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations.” Become the target of murder.

The UAE is also part of the ongoing conflict in Libya.

They have launched air strikes and unmanned attacks, the UAE has also established a base of operations there, andprovided direct support, including weapons, to the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF, the former Libyan National Army) headed by Khalifa Hhiftar including the transfer of ammunition,armoured vehicles and other military equipment.

2.2 Report Regarding Drone Attack

Human Rights discovered an apparently illegal drone attack directly from the UAE. It attacked the Al-Sunbulah biscuit factory in Wadi al-Rabi on November 18th, 2019, killing 8 civilians and wounding 27 others.

Not only that but, the UAE’s illegal air strikes on immigration detention centers controlled by the Ministry of the Interior of the National Agreement Government killed more than 53 people, most of them African immigrants.

According to reports, in December 2019, the UAE “provided weapons to the UAE Armed Forces on a regular basis, and sometimes even publicly,” in violation of the UN’s bilateral arms embargo on all parties that take part in the conflict in Libya.

Experts include patrol ships, armoured personnel carriers, high-explosive disc lasers, air defence systems and unmanned aerial vehicles.

In Libya, strikes carried out in the name of LAAF killed civilians, and international humanitarian law did not observe the principle of proportionality.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly documented abuses by the Air Force, including executions, enforced disappearances, torture, desecration and illegal air strikes on the bodies of opposition fighters in eastern Libya between 2014 and 2018 and during the Battle of Tripoli in May, including an apparently illegal air strike in a residential area of Tripoli in October 2019, resulting in civilian deaths.

During the recent conflict in Tripoli, LAAF and related foreign armed forces used internationally banned cluster bombs, anti-personnel mines and booby traps in southern Tripoli.

Human Rights Watch stated that the UAE’s completely illegal drone attack hit the Al Sunbulah biscuit factory in Wadi al Rabi, south of Tripoli, on November 18, 2019, killing 8 civilians and injuring 27 others.

Few measures have been taken to minimize the damage to civilians and incidents caused by attacks. Transparent investigations should be conducted, results should be announced and compensation should be paid to victims or their families. It broke out in April 2019.

The UAE is launching air strikes and drones to support the Libyan Arab Army (LAAF) (formerly known as the Libyan National Army), one of the two main Libyan parties in the conflict, some of which have caused civilian casualties.

2.3 Weapons and Arms Transfers from the UAE

According to a legal UN report, the UAE increased the supply of military equipment to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar and circumvented the arms embargo because the Gulf States tried to save him. He is the leader of the military campaign and controls the influence of its regional competitors, like Turkey.

A diplomat said that he had obtained an unpublished report from a group of American experts monitoring weapons, stating that the number of weapons controlled by Haftar is increasing because hehas been able to prevent the internationally recognized Libyan government from blocking Tripoli for years.

Collapsed after the attack. Between January and April, the U.S. Air Force flew about 150 flights. According to U.S. experts, these aircraft were equipped with ammunition and protective systems.

The diplomat said that even after the cancellation of Haftar’s offensive, an American-made C-17 military transport aircraft was still making dozens of flights from the UAE throughout the summer.

The European Union has also been accused of violating the Libyan arms embargo by using ships to transport jet fuel to Libya for military purposes. The EU has launched maritime patrols this year to strengthen the embargo, and the ship was arrested earlier this month.

EU officials say the aircraft was equipped with jet fuel and was intended for military use in Haftar-controlled areas. American weapons have contributed to Libya’s large-scale arms building.

The continuous attacks on the central government of Tripoli have brought the UAE to the opposite side of the United States in this conflict.President Trump has for instance recognized the GNA in Tripoli as the legitimate government of Libya.

The airlift of weapons and other items from the UAE to Haftar has turned this small, wealthy country into one of the mediators in the conflicts between Turkey, Russia and Libya.

The government of Tripoli, which Turkey has intervened, hopes to bypass competitors such as Russia and the United Arab Emirates and strengthen its commercial interests, such as gas rights in the Mediterranean.

The UAE’s arms supply played an important role in Haftar’s military takeover of eastern Libya, and he continues to oppose negotiations in Libya.

According to information previously released by the United States, in recent years, the UAE has sent armed drones, air defence systems, laser-guided bombs and helicopters to destroy Haftar’s forces.

The main saboteur in Libya since 2015,” said Wolfram Lacher, a Libyan expert at the German think tank the Berlin Institute for International Relations and Security.

Secretary of State Anwar Gargash on the other hand, declined to discuss the details of arms shipments to Libya, saying that the UAE and its allies are fighting Libyan terrorist organizations. Gargash also said: “We are not working alone in Libya. We work with Egyptians, French and other countries.”

In January, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed signed an agreement with other world leaders to maintain the US arms embargo on Libya, but the flow of arms to the country has nonetheless increased since then.

The influx of military equipment from the United States started at the end of 2019-early 2020, when Haftar’s campaign against the government sanctioned by Britain failed. When the situation was not favourable to him, the Gulf countries sent about 150 military flights to eastern Libya and western Egypt, most of which were shipped through large Russian cargo planes.

Several planes landed at Sidi Barani Air Base near the border with Libya in Egypt. From there, cars and planes transported military equipment to Libya. This is derived from a US report that contains aerial photos of bases and flight records.

Haftar’s offensive failed in June, when pro-government forces backed by Turkey suppressed Haftar’s militia making them have to evacuate from the capital. The foreign powers,however, have not faced serious consequences of violating the US arms embargo.

In February, Stephanie Williams, Assistant Director of the U.S. Mission in Libya even stated: “The arms embargo has become a joke.” The ship sailed on the Mediterranean for the first time on September 10th.

According to the European Union, the ship is likely to transport aviation fuel from the UAE to Libya for military purposes. The EU has also imposed sanctions on violations as part of its efforts to enforce the arms embargo.

The blockade last week authorized a Turkish transportation company and a Jordanian transportation company to deliver military equipment to Libya. He also imposed sanctions on the Kazakhstan airline Sigma Airlines, which was previously used by the European Union to deliver weapons to Libya because it violated the gun ban.

According to the contract and other documents examined by the Wall Street Journal, the US military initially ordered seven Russian-made Mi-24 helicopters from the Czech Republic through the private AAL group in Dubai in 2015.

A year later, the Air Force commander belonging to the Haftar Libyan militia approved an order for the purchase of 11 Mi-24 helicopters, 7 of which have the same serial numbers as the British ones. An obvious plan to move the helicopter to Libya.

This can be seen in the letters reviewed by the journal. According to a former official familiar with the situation, the UAE government once invited the Czech ambassador to inspect the helicopter flying in the UAE to reassure him that the plane was for local use only. Nevertheless, in the past few months, Haftar’s forces have used several Mi-24 helicopters for combat, including the attack on Tripoli. A well-informed former Western official said that Libyan pilots with ties to the Haftar armed forces have been trained in the same type of helicopter in Egypt.

An Egyptian government spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment on the helicopters and weapons shipped to Libya. In 2017, U.S. officials expressed concern about the U.S. plans to bring one of the helicopters into Libya.

Then in 2018, according to the contract, a transfer certificate and other documents seen by the magazine, he sent at least three planes to Egypt. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs also confirmed that the helicopter has arrived in Egypt and obtained a transfer permit in 2019.

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Czech authorities have not yet received any news about Egypt’s intention to transfer helicopters to Libya.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in an email: “We confirm that the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the United Nations in New York is in contact with the Libya Expert Group on this matter.” Upon request, commented on the details of helicopter exports.


Mahmoud Refaat is an expert in international law, politician and writer. Refaat is the president of the European Institute for International Law and International Relations in Brussels, Belgium.


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