Libya: Increase in Illegal Arms Trade

Caroline Bright, journalist at


Warring factions in Libya are now supplied with arms by a large number of friends and “sponsors “

Six months ago a Kalachinokov bullet cost 10 centimes on the Libyan black market. Today the price has risen to 3.5 euros, a 3,500 percent increase. The reason for this inflation is simple: apart from the arms embargo, the state of security in Libya is unstable.

In addition to the war between the forces in Tripoli and Misrata against those of Tobrouk, recognised by the international community, there is now the urgent need to combat ISIS. Indeed, the terrorist group has increased its control over the territory and uses Libya as a support base, but without gaining the support of the Libyan population.

Apart from the rising price of weapons in the country, this situation encourages an increase in supplies of illegal weapons to Libya which, let’s not forget, is just on Europe’s doorstep.

It is in this climate that Greek authorities discovered a large cargo of arms on a Bolivian vessel. Having left Turkey to make its way to Libya, there is no doubt that the weapons on board were intended for the Islamic militia coalition Fajr al-Libya which is fighting a war against the government forces of Tobrouk. While Turkey is logistically supporting the Misrata militia, the military wing of the Tripoli-based authorities, Tobrouk can count on the unconditional support of the Egyptian field-marshall Al-Sissi.

More proof of the illegal arms trade: a fishing-trawler came to dock in a port not far from Banghazi in order to unload weapons for the Misrata Islamic militia forces. By way of contrast, at the beginning of summer, fishing-trawlers from Turkey were bombed by planes from Tobrouk; they decided to turn back rather than dock in Libya.

Distribution losses

The supply of arms and ammunition appears logistically more complicated for the Tobrouk forces, whose members include soldiers loyal to the former Ghadafi regime. On the one hand, it would appear that large sums of money, apparently released for weapons, had been embezzled by Libyans living in exile. On the other hand, the massive stocks of weapons which Ghadafi’s army had hidden in the desert – sometimes in impressive underground depots – are either unusable or have fallen into the hands of their enemies, the Misrata militia.

Coalition militants, Fajr al-Libya, discovered this year a military barracks full of weapons belonging to Ghadafi’s former army. But these weapons were obsolete and useless.


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