The Libyan Foreign Ministry rejected the European Union’s decision issued on Monday to start a maritime and air mission in the eastern Mediterranean to monitor the arms embargo to Libya. A similar position was issued by the ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey.
The ministry spokesman, Muhammad al-Qiblawi, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera that the European Union should monitor the maritime and land borders, because the weapons reach the forces of retired Major General Khalifa Haftar across the border with Egypt.
A spokesman for the Turkish Justice and Development Party, Omar Celik, told a news conference after a party meeting in Ankara that the European Union's approach to Libya is not correct, explaining that "there are some countries known to support Haftar forces from the air and the ground."
Chlik pointed out that conducting a military surveillance operation at sea only would lead to tie the hand of one of the warring parties in Libya, while the other would be left free in the field of armaments. He added, "It is the United Nations, not the European Union, that should oversee the arms embargo on Libya."
Turkey supports the government of national reconciliation in Tripoli, which is internationally and politically and militarily recognized, while Russia, the UAE, and Egypt support Haftar's forces and provide them with military support.
In 2011, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo to Libya after the outbreak of the revolution against Muammar Gaddafi's regime, but the embargo has been violated for years by many countries.
On Monday, European Union foreign ministers agreed at the end of a meeting in Brussels that the union would start a new mission in the Mediterranean to monitor the implementation of the UN arms embargo in Libya.
The 27 member states of the Union have agreed to provide seven aircraft and seven ships for the mission.
The European Union’s foreign affairs official, Josep Borrell, added that several countries have expressed their willingness to participate in this mission, and it is likely that the work of the European mission will start at the end of next March.
Borrell added that the union cannot deploy forces on the Egyptian-Libyan border, but what can be done in this regard is to track ships heading to the Libyan east via radars to see if they are carrying weapons or not.
Reuters quoted diplomats as saying that EU ships will inspect suspicious ships in the eastern Mediterranean, where most of the arms smuggling to Libya occurs, away from migration routes, in a compromise to allay Austria's fears that any maritime mission will lead to more migrants reaching Europe.
European countries - including Italy and Austria - had initially rejected the maritime aspect of this mission, and considered that they would make smugglers push more migrants to the sea, forcing the maritime surveillance force to save them.
To overcome the Italian and Austrian refusal, the EU foreign ministers discussed using planes instead of ships to monitor smugglers who supply both sides of the conflict in the Libyan crisis with weapons, but German Foreign Minister Haikou Maas stressed the need to agree to undertake a naval mission, saying that the sorties would not be sufficient.
Since the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime in 2011, Libya has lived through political divisions and armed conflicts that have worsened in recent years after two governments fought for power and influence, the first in Tripoli is internationally recognized, the second is in Tobruk and is supported by the House of Representatives.
In early April, Haftar's forces launched a major attack on Tripoli, with the aim of controlling it. On January 12, 2020, a fragile truce entered into force between the Al-Wefaq government and Haftar forces at the invitation of Russia and Turkey, but the ceasefire was quickly broken at a daily pace. Both sides in the conflict are accusing each other of violating the armistice.