Weapons shipping into Libya? Who would have thought?

Readability

Weapons shipping into Libya? Who would have thought?

An IL-​76, from Wikipedia

A while back I made some pre­dic­tions on Russ­ian activ­ity, try­ing to think out­side the box as to where we would see Rus­sia next. An obvi­ous one to me was Libya. After we kicked out Qaddafi’s gov­ern­ment, Rus­sia lost some­where around $4 bil­lion in mil­i­tary sales since they had sup­ported the wrong side. I don’t think they ever for­got, or for­gave, that loss.

Al-​Jazeera, a great news resource for all things African news (and not worth read­ing if they make com­ments on Israel), took a look at flights into Libya. Yes, you can fly to Libya, even on a nor­mal pas­sen­ger jet. In the Nether­lands I saw reg­u­lar flights while I was wait­ing for my air­line con­nec­tion. Al Jazeera noticed some strange air activ­ity from a Reem Travel com­pany. Reem oper­ates a bunch of IL-​76 air­craft (big, ugly, and sur­pris­ingly reli­able Russ­ian trans­ports) to move equip­ment, peo­ple and fuel all over the world, includ­ing the Antarc­tic and CIS (for­mer Soviet) countries.

Reem’s IL-76’s were caught land­ing at the Libyan National Air­port, with­out a transpon­der on, and drop­ping off blandly marked boxes. Libya is under an arms embargo, so any­thing being smug­gled in would have arrived in either unla­beled or mis­la­beled boxes.

The Rus­sians are par­tic­u­larly good at this, although lately they’ve been slip­ping. For exam­ple, Rus­sia has been ship­ping an awful lot of “human­i­tar­ian aid” into Venezuela. It’s in quotes because mag­i­cally the gear turns out to have mil­i­tary equip­ment and sol­diers in the ship­ment. I say they are slip­ping because they keep get­ting caught, and it has diplo­matic con­se­quences. Malta recently refused to allow them to pull into port. Ice­land did this in the past as well.

While we con­tinue to focus on domes­tic media, don’t for­get that there is a lot of inter­est­ing things hap­pen­ing. Russia’s cur­rent for­eign pol­icy is show­ing that it will both inter­fere in Libya, and that our allies in Europe are push­ing back where they can. Both sto­ries bear repeating.

This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other gov­ern­ment agency.

An IL-76, from Wikipedia

A while back I made some predictions on Russian activity, trying to think outside the box as to where we would see Russia next. An obvious one to me was Libya. After we kicked out Qaddafi’s government, Russia lost somewhere around $4 billion in military sales since they had supported the wrong side. I don’t think they ever forgot, or forgave, that loss.

Al-Jazeera, a great news resource for all things African news (and not worth reading if they make comments on Israel), took a look at flights into Libya. Yes, you can fly to Libya, even on a normal passenger jet. In the Netherlands I saw regular flights while I was waiting for my airline connection. Al Jazeera noticed some strange air activity from a Reem Travel company. Reem operates a bunch of IL-76 aircraft (big, ugly, and surprisingly reliable Russian transports) to move equipment, people and fuel all over the world, including the Antarctic and CIS (former Soviet) countries.

Reem’s IL-76’s were caught landing at the Libyan National Airport, without a transponder on, and dropping off blandly marked boxes. Libya is under an arms embargo, so anything being smuggled in would have arrived in either unlabeled or mislabeled boxes.

The Russians are particularly good at this, although lately they’ve been slipping. For example, Russia has been shipping an awful lot of “humanitarian aid” into Venezuela. It’s in quotes because magically the gear turns out to have military equipment and soldiers in the shipment. I say they are slipping because they keep getting caught, and it has diplomatic consequences. Malta recently refused to allow them to pull into port. Iceland did this in the past as well.

While we continue to focus on domestic media, don’t forget that there is a lot of interesting things happening. Russia’s current foreign policy is showing that it will both interfere in Libya, and that our allies in Europe are pushing back where they can. Both stories bear repeating.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.