Libya links arms to traffickers

Recent research by the Small Arms Survey (1) in Libya shows four distinct types of non-state armed groups operating post-Gaddafi: revolutionary brigades, unregulated brigades, post-revolutionary brigades, and militias.

More specifically the report, by Brian McQuinn of the Centre for Anthropology and Mind, Oxford University, noted: ‘as the largest non-state force in the country, Libya’s revolutionary brigades probably account for 75 to 85 per cent of the seasoned fighters and weapon stockpiles outside of government control. In Misrata, where brigades control more than 820 tanks, dozens of heavy artillery pieces, and more than 2,300 vehicles equipped with
machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons, this percentage is thought to be
much higher’.

This ill-defined security – or insecurity – in Libya has opened up new regional smuggling opportunities, linking with the trans-Sahara trade, which feed into the Sinai peninsula where there is a similar lack of security; this has allowed the area to increase its historic smuggling status, conditioned by its key geopolitical situation in relation to the Middle East and the Mediterranean rim.

Eritrea has now been identified as a new and important regional smuggling conduit linking up with eastern Sudan and then Sinai, which opens up a cheaper and easier trafficking link with the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian peninsula. Jasper Humphreys, The Marjan Centre
(1): ‘Armed Groups in Libya: Typology and Roles, Small Arms Survey Research Note: Geneva, June 2012’ . http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/H-Research_Notes/SAS-Research-Note-18.pdf

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