After Ghana, another state is to receive “land vehicles for military purposes” seized in an EU mission off Libya.
The EU passes on military equipment to third countries that was seized in the military mission “Irini” off Libya. After a delivery of 105 armoured vehicles to Ghana, another government could now benefit from such a donation of 41 vehicles. This is what the Council of the EU writes in its answer to a parliamentary question by the Left MEP Özlem Demirel.
The “Irini” mission, launched in the Mediterranean in 2020, gathers naval forces from EU member states. They are to monitor compliance with UN sanctions on oil exports and arms trade with Libya. A “secondary task” is the so-called fight against smugglers.
The mission’s activities include observing and tracking suspicious ship movements. For this purpose, the crews can, as a last resort, also inspect ships without the captains’ consent and with the use of military force. However, the permission of the flag state is always required. If the flag state agrees to the boarding, this is considered a “friendly approach”.
The German Armed Forces are also participating in the mission with changing ships and a maritime reconnaissance aircraft. In 2020, the German navy inspected the Turkish container ship “Rosalia”, which was suspected of carrying weapons for the Libyan government in Tripoli and thus may have violated the UN arms embargo against Libya. The “Rosalia” is said to have already transported armoured military vehicles in an earlier case. Analysts from “Irini” claim to have recognised this from satellite images. However, the boarding by the Bundeswehr caused protests by the government in Ankara, which called the deployment of soldiers of the Nato partner illegal. Subsequently, the Bundeswehr aborted the operation.
Irini”, on the other hand, was successful in the search of the freighter “Victori Roro” on 18 July 2022, which had allegedly departed from Jordan and was diverted to a European port for inspection. There, 105 vehicles of the category “land vehicles for military purposes” were discovered and seized. These are manufactured by the Armored Group company in the United Arab Emirates. Their destination was presumably the government in eastern Libya, which was at civil war with the unity government in Tripoli.
A year later, the Council decided to transfer the seized vehicles to Ghana. The support measure was intended to strengthen the capabilities of the military there, among other things “to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ghana and contribute to peace and stability within the region”.
According to the reply to MEP Demirel, another decision is still pending. This concerns the cargo of the ship “Meerdijk 41”, which was diverted and searched on 12 October 2022. In the process, the 41 “land vehicles for military purposes” were confiscated.
The EU is now “policeman and arms dealer in one”, Demirel comments on the transfer of the military equipment to third countries. “It is already scandalous that EU member states undermine and disregard their own binding legal framework on arms exports,” said the MEP.
The decision to donate the vehicles to Ghana was controversial at EU level. It was unclear who was allowed to make this decision at all. With a renewal of the decision on the military mission “Irini”, the EU states have made new arrangements in this regard. According to this, the member state into whose territory the ships are diverted may decide on the “disposal” of the confiscated equipment. It can be destroyed or rendered unusable. However, the term “disposal” also includes its continued usage, “including by third parties”, as long as the seized equipment does not find its way back into states such as Libya.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: The cargo of the “Meerdijk 41”, which may soon be enjoyed again by a government in Africa (EUNAVFORMED Irini).