EU launches IRINI operation to impose the arms embargo on Libya, violated by Erdogan
As part of efforts to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya, the European Union (EU) announced on Tuesday the launch of the EUNAVFOR MED IRINI operation (http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6414-2020-INIT/it/pdf).The new military CSDP (common security and defense policy) operation in the Mediterranean, decided in the context of the Berlin Conference, will contribute to the peace process in the North African country where fighting continues among the militias affiliated to the Government of National Accord (GNA ) based in Tripoli, and the Libyan National Army (LNA) under the command of General Khalifa Haftar.
“Only political solutions and the full respect of the UN arms embargo will bring a solution to the Libyan crisis. But diplomacy cannot succeed unless it is backed by action. This operation will be essential and a clear contribution to promoting peace in our immediate neighbourhood through a permanent ceasefire”. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the Council reaffirmed. IRINI, Greek for “peace”, will have as its core task the implementation of the UN arms embargo through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In particular the mission will be able to carry out inspections of vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya suspected to be carrying arms or related material to and from Libya in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2292 (2016).
EUNAVFOR MED IRINI will also be responsible for monitoring and collecting information on illicit exports of oil, crude oil and refined petroleum products from Libya; contribute to capacity building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy in law enforcement duties at sea; as well as contributing to the destruction of the commercial model of smugglers and human traffickers networks through the collection and patrol of information by the air force. The IRINI Mission will be led by Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini and its headquarters will be located in Rome, Italy. The mandate of the IRINI operation will initially run until 31 March 2021 and will be under close control of the EU Member States, which will exercise political control and strategic direction through the Political and Security Committee (PSC), under the responsibility of the Council. and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Parallel to the launch of the IRINI operation, the EUNAVFOR MED operation existing in the Mediterranean, SOPHIA, will definitively cease its activities.
The decision of the Council arrives after BBC (https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-52037533/turkey-sends-secret-arms-shipments-into-libya) documented last week new violations by Turkey, citing satellite images and footages obtained by its investigation team. A ship carrying armoured combat vehicles, cannons, self-propelled howitzers and an anti-aircraft gun set sail from the Turkish port of Mersin heading towards Tunisia, then disappeared from tracking systems to head to Tripoli on Jan. 27, BBC said. Satellite images obtained by the BBC showed three ships to the northeast of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, with the one in the middle matching the dimensions and colour scheme of the Turkish ship, called BANA. The embargo has been repeatedly violated even after the Berlin Conference, held by German Government on 19 January 2020 despite the participants, included the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, committed to refraining from interference in the armed conflict or in the internal affairs of Libya and urge all international actors to do the same.