Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Report: Europe Competed to Sell Libya Weapons

• March 23, 2011 • 5:27 PM

An international report on arms transfers suggests Europeans were eager to sell weapons to Gadhafi before Libya’s uprising this winter.

European nations that are busily destroying Libyan weapon systems on the ground these days were lining up to sell the authoritarian state major weapons systems a few months earlier, notes the latest survey on international arms sales from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Four European nations — France, Italy, Russia and the United Kingdom — had been competing for expected orders from Libya for combat aircraft, tanks, air defense systems and other weapons before the United Nations imposed an embargo on arms sales to Libya last month, SIPRI said.

The report was released amid the Libya uprising against the 41-year dictatorship of Moammar Gadhafi. Condemning his crackdown, France and the U.K., together with the United States, are now launching warplane and missile strikes against Gadhafi’s forces. Italy has joined the shaky alliance that is enforcing a no-fly zone in Libya that backers argue is designed specifically to protect civilians from assault.

Russia, the largest arms supplier to Libya, voted with the rest of the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 26 to impose an arms embargo against Libya. But Russia abstained on the council’s Mar. 17 vote declaring a no-fly zone in Libyan airspace and authorizing military action to enforce it. Without specifying what weaponry Libya had ordered, Sergei V. Chemezov, the director of the Russian state company in charge of weapons exports, said on Friday that Russia would lose $4 billion because of the unrest in Libya and the subsequent United Nations embargo. SIPRI reported that these arms included warplanes and coastal defense boats.

(The armed intervention, which is supported by President Dmitry Medvedev and opposed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, has provoked one of the few public disagreements between Russia’s leaders.)

According to the report from Stockholm, sales of major conventional arms to Libya were “very low” between September 2003, when the U.N. lifted an earlier arms embargo, and February of this year, when the embargo was reinstated.

But a January report from the European Union on EU arms sales licenses to Libya in 2009 suggests that European defense companies in France, Italy and Germany nonetheless had “steadily been increasing their business ties with Libya,” according to a nice bit of reporting by Germany’s Deutsche Welle.

Blogger Dan O’Huiginn put the average sales at about a half billion U.S. dollars at the time. As he wrote, “€343m per year buys you a lot of weapons. This isn’t fiddling around the edges, it’s a major contribution to keeping Gaddafi in power.”

In 2009, Deutsche Welle reported, Italy approved licenses to export $158 million in military aircraft, Malta authorized the sale of $113 million in small arms, and Germany approved licenses to export $75 million in electronic jamming equipment to Libya. (The Maltese government denied the report, saying the island nation did not produce or export weapons and had been used only for transporting Italian-made arms by sea.)

The U.S. made overtures to ramp up arms sales to Libya, The Associated Press reported, but Congress scotched the latest deal to sell Gadhafi $77 million in used armored personnel carriers.

The U.N. lifted its arms embargo against Libya in 2003 after Gadhafi promised to renounce terrorism, destroy his arsenals of weapons of mass destruction and accept responsibility for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

“Libya at the time had a huge amount of old, out of date military equipment dating back to the Soviet era and was looking to modernize its armed force,” Deutsche Welle quoted Mark Bromley of the Stockholm institute as saying. “It was the perfect opportunity for western arms companies to get a foothold in this lucrative market and incredibly oil-rich country.”

Presumably, whoever wins in Libya’s civil conflict will be in the market to replace much of the material now being destroyed.

The Stockholm institute conducts research on conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. It is one of the world’s leading think tanks. Its Arms Transfers Database contains information on the sales, gifts and transfers of major conventional weapons to states, international organizations and armed non-state groups.

From 2006 to 2010, the institute said, the volume of international transfers of major conventional weapons was 24 percent higher than between 2001 and 2005. India was the No. 1 importer of major conventional weapons during the past five years, followed by China, South Korea, Pakistan and Greece. The U.S. remained the No. 1 arms exporter in the world, followed by Russia, Germany, France and the U.K.

 

“Like” Miller-McCune on Facebook.

Follow Miller-McCune on Twitter.

Add Miller-McCune.com news to your site.

Subscribe to Miller-McCune

Melinda Burns
Former Miller-McCune staff writer Melinda Burns was previously a senior writer for the Santa Barbara News-Press, covering immigration, urban planning, science, and the environment.

More From Melinda Burns

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

December 18 • 4:00 PM

How I Navigated Life as a Newly Sober Mom

Saying “no” to my kids was harder than saying “no” to alcohol. But for their sake and mine, I had to learn to put myself first sometimes.


December 18 • 2:00 PM

Women in Apocalyptic Fiction Shaving Their Armpits

Because our interest in realism apparently only goes so far.


December 18 • 12:00 PM

The Paradox of Choice, 10 Years Later

Paul Hiebert talks to psychologist Barry Schwartz about how modern trends—social media, FOMO, customer review sites—fit in with arguments he made a decade ago in his highly influential book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less.


December 18 • 10:00 AM

What It’s Like to Spend a Few Hours in the Church of Scientology

Wrestling with thetans, attempting to unlock a memory bank, and a personality test seemingly aimed at people with depression. This is Scientology’s “dissemination drill” for potential new members.


December 18 • 8:00 AM

Gendering #BlackLivesMatter: A Feminist Perspective

Black men are stereotyped as violent, while black women are rendered invisible. Here’s why the gendering of black lives matters.


December 18 • 7:06 AM

Apparently You Can Bring Your Religion to Work

New research says offices that encourage talk of religion actually make for happier workplaces.


December 18 • 6:00 AM

The Very Weak and Complicated Links Between Mental Illness and Gun Violence

Vanderbilt University’s Jonathan Metzl and Kenneth MacLeish address our anxieties and correct our assumptions.


December 18 • 4:00 AM

Should Movies Be Rated RD for Reckless Driving?

A new study finds a link between watching films featuring reckless driving and engaging in similar behavior years later.


December 17 • 4:00 PM

How to Run a Drug Dealing Network in Prison

People tend not to hear about the prison drug dealing operations that succeed. Substance.com asks a veteran of the game to explain his system.


December 17 • 2:00 PM

Gender Segregation of Toys Is on the Rise

Charting the use of “toys for boys” and “toys for girls” in American English.


December 17 • 12:41 PM

Why the College Football Playoff Is Terrible But Better Than Before

The sample size is still embarrassingly small, but at least there’s less room for the availability cascade.


December 17 • 11:06 AM

Canadian Kids Have a Serious Smoking Problem

Bootleg cigarette sales could be leading Canadian teens to more serious drugs, a recent study finds.


December 17 • 10:37 AM

A Public Lynching in Sproul Plaza

When photographs of lynching victims showed up on a hallowed site of democracy in action, a provocation was issued—but to whom, by whom, and why?


December 17 • 8:00 AM

What Was the Job?

This was the year the job broke, the year we accepted a re-interpretation of its fundamental bargain and bought in to the push to get us to all work for ourselves rather than each other.


December 17 • 6:00 AM

White Kids Will Be Kids

Even the “good” kids—bound for college, upwardly mobile—sometimes break the law. The difference? They don’t have much to fear. A professor of race and social movements reflects on her teenage years and faces some uncomfortable realities.



December 16 • 4:00 PM

How Fear of Occupy Wall Street Undermined the Red Cross’ Sandy Relief Effort

Red Cross responders say there was a ban on working with the widely praised Occupy Sandy relief group because it was seen as politically unpalatable.


December 16 • 3:30 PM

Murder! Mayhem! And That’s Just the Cartoons!

New research suggests deaths are common features of animated features aimed at children.


December 16 • 1:43 PM

In Tragedy, Empathy Still Dependent on Proximity

In spite of an increasingly connected world, in the face of adversity, a personal touch is most effective.


December 16 • 12:00 PM

The ‘New York Times’ Is Hooked on Drug du Jour Journalism

For the paper of record, addiction is always about this drug or that drug rather than the real causes.


December 16 • 10:00 AM

What Is the Point of Academic Books?

Ultimately, they’re meant to disseminate knowledge. But their narrow appeal makes them expensive to produce and harder to sell.


December 16 • 8:00 AM

Unjust and Unwell: The Racial Issues That Could Be Affecting Your Health Care

Physicians and medical students have the same problems with implicit bias as the rest of us.


December 16 • 6:00 AM

If You Get Confused Just Listen to the Music Play

Healing the brain with the Grateful Dead.


December 16 • 4:00 AM

Another Casualty of the Great Recession: Trust

Research from Britain finds people who were laid off from their jobs expressed lower levels of generalized trust.


December 15 • 4:00 PM

When Charter Schools Are Non-Profit in Name Only

Some charters pass along nearly all their money to for-profit companies hired to manage the schools. It’s an arrangement that’s raising eyebrows.


Follow us


Apparently You Can Bring Your Religion to Work

New research says offices that encourage talk of religion actually make for happier workplaces.

Canadian Kids Have a Serious Smoking Problem

Bootleg cigarette sales could be leading Canadian teens to more serious drugs, a recent study finds.

The Hidden Psychology of the Home Ref

That old myth of home field bias isn’t a myth at all; it’s a statistical fact.

A Word of Caution to the Holiday Deal-Makers

Repeat customers—with higher return rates and real bargain-hunting prowess—can have negative effects on a company’s net earnings.

Crowdfunding Works for Science

Scientists just need to put forth some effort.

The Big One

One in two United States senators and two in five House members who left office between 1998 and 2004 became lobbyists. November/December 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.