By Libya Herald staff,
Tunis, 5 February 2015:
Rival Libyan political figures are involved in separate talks with Ukraine and Russia on arms . . .[restrict]supplies.
Misrata’s Abdurrahman Sewehli, one of the leading opponents of the House of Representatives (HoR), has had talks in the Ukrainian capital Kiev with the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin. At the same time, former Libyan foreign minister Mohamed Adbulaziz, who acts as roving ambassador for HoR President Ageela Salah Gwaider, is in Moscow in a bid to build up new military ties with the Russians.
Although the exact nature of the talks in Kiev is unknown, Sewehli is reported saying that his objective was to explain the views of those supporting Libya Dawn and to gain support for Congress in Europe.
However, sources say that the real aim is to acquire arms and munitions from Ukraine for Libya Dawn, known to be need of new supplies. In particular, he is said to be looking for equipment to turn two MiG 23s in Misrata’s possession in fully functioning fighter planes. He is also reportedly seeking two Libyan Ilyushin 76 transport planes currently in Ukraine awaiting repairs.
There are unconfirmed reports that Sewehli, a member of the reconstituted General National Congress and of the HoR but which along with other Misratan members he is boycotting, was last week in Montreux meeting a number of Libyan military officials invited to join in the UNSMIL dialogue taking place at the other end of Lake Geneva.
In Moscow, Abdulaziz has indicated that the Russia is well disposed to supplying the Libyan armed forces with equipment. According to the recently opened state-owned Sputnik news service, Abdulaziz today told the Russians that “Libya wants its military personnel to be trained by Russian specialists and to receive modern Russian weaponry” and that he had “met understanding of this issue from Russia”.
It also quoted him saying at a press conference in Moscow: “We hope that this [military] cooperation will continue in two main areas — in the field of education and training of Libyan national [military] personnel and the provision of modern weapons to Libya.”
The prospect of the Libyan rivals gaining military support from warring Ukraine and Russia could prove highly awkward for some European states and especially the USA. It supports Kiev in its current struggle with Moscow. But if Kiev were to supply arms to the Hassi regime in Tripoli, which is does not recognise, it could cause a major political row in Washington. [/restrict]