United Arab Emirates-based companies shipped tons of jet fuel to eastern Libya, the stronghold of warlord Khalifa Haftar, in a suspected violation of international arms embargo, according to an investigation by Financial Times.
The companies sent in March nearly 11,000 tons of jet fuel to the city of Benghazi, which is under the control of Haftar militias, the newspaper said, adding that the shipment had a market value of nearly $5 million at the time it was loaded from the UAE.
The supplier of the fuel, according to the publication, was Afrifin Logistics FZE, which is based in Sharjah. It was loaded on to MT Gulf Petroleum 4, a Liberian-flagged tanker operated by Gulf Shipping Services FZC.
"In the UN's judgment the jet fuel was considered to be 'combat supplies' and the shipment to eastern Libya could constitute a violation of the embargo,” the newspaper quoted Stephanie Williams, the acting UN envoy to Libya, as saying.
Underlining that the legitimate Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation is already supplying sufficient amounts of jet fuel to the eastern part of the country for commercial use, Williams said the illegally imported jet fuel would likely be used to support Haftar's air force operations.
UN officials endorsed that the companies involved in the incident were registered in the UAE, and the fuel was supplied in UAE territory but refused to declare the names of the firms.
They said that investigations will continue to clarify how the financial transactions were conducted and aims to confirm the firms and people involved in the shipping.
The GNA has been under attack by Haftar's forces since last April, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence. It launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital.
Since the ouster of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Haftar in eastern Libya, supported by Egypt and UAE, and the GNA in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.
By Zehra Nur Duz