DGermany will send a frigate to the Mediterranean for EU naval missions to monitor the UN arms embargo against Libya next week. According to information from the German Press Agency, there will be about 250 soldiers on board the “Hamburg”. They should arrive in the operational area in mid-August.
Operation Irini aims to stabilize Libya, the country of civil war in North Africa, and to support the UN-led political peace process. In addition to smuggling weapons, it is also said to prevent oil smuggling.
Libya has had a civil war since the fall of long-term ruler Muammar al Gaddafi in 2011 with the help of the West. The governmental troops receive substantial support from Turkey, their opponents from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. All attempts to mediate in the conflict have so far been unsuccessful – including a Libya conference in Berlin in January.
A solution to the conflict is also important for the EU because the chaotic conditions in the country favor the business of trafficking gangs that bring migrants illegally across the Mediterranean to Europe.
Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are considered to be countries that allegedly violate the UN arms embargo. Turkey is accused, among other things, by France of supplying war material to the troops of the Libyan unity government. Turkey, on the other hand, accuses countries such as the United Arab Emirates of providing arms to government opponent General Chalifa Haftar.
Germany, France and Italy had recently even threatened sanctions for countries that violated the UN arms embargo on Libya. The threat came on the initiative of France after a French warship had recently been prevented by a Turkish warship from inspecting a suspect cargo ship.
According to the French description, the Turkish ship even aimed its fire control radar at the French frigate as a deterrent. Since such systems are generally only used to provide target data for the use of weapon systems, France considered this to be “extremely aggressive” and was raised at the recent NATO Defense Ministers’ meeting.
In addition to ships, planes and satellites are used to monitor the arms embargo. Germany has been supporting Operation Irini with a P-3C Orion long-range reconnaissance aircraft since May. In addition, there are personnel at the operational headquarters in Rome in Italy and on the flagship.
The “Hamburg” frigate, which is now being deployed, is part of the second frigate squadron of the Navy, which has its home port in Wilhelmshaven. The 143-meter long battleship of the Saxony class specializes, among other things, in naval control. Actually, the crew of “Hamburg” should have been on a training trip abroad in the Indian Ocean and should even have visited Australia. However, this trip was postponed due to the operation and the corona pandemic.