Monday, March 14, 2011

Libya An Arsenal of Terrorism Again?

A rebel fires a rocket at a Libyan air force jet near Brega.
It is a well established and proven fact that during the 1970s and 1980s, Libya served as the arsenal of terrorism. This fact received a lot of publicity when large shipments of weapons were intercepted that Libya was trying to send to the Provisional Irish Republican Army, but Libyan involvement in arming terrorist groups was far more widespread. Weapons used in terrorist attacks by groups such as the Abu Nidal Organization frequently showed that the weapons had come from Libya. In fact, there were Soviet-manufactured F1 hand grenades that became widely known in the counterterrorism community as signature items tied to Libyan support of terrorist groups.

One possible outcome of the conflict in Libya could be to provide jihadists in Libya more room to operate than they have enjoyed for many years. One significant way this impact could manifest itself is in the supply of arms. The looting of the arms depots in Libya is reminiscent of the looting in Iraq following the U.S. invasion in 2003. In addition, as you are probably aware, foreign governments are discussing providing arms to the Libyan rebels in the eastern part of the country. Past operations to arm rebels have had long-lasting repercussions in places like Afghanistan and Central America.

Already, as a result of the current strife, literally tons of weapons have recently entered into free circulation where there is little or no government control over them. If foreign powers decide to arm the Libyan rebels, more large shipments of arms may soon follow. Given the durable nature of arms, these weapons could have an impact on the region for many years to come, and Libya could once again become the arsenal of terrorism.

Thr role arms “Arms Supplier” was one Gadhaffi eagerly took on in the past. It was, in fact a policy of the Gadhafi regime Because of that it was possible to direct international policy against the regime to curtail such activity. In the near future there may not be a stable government with control over all of Libya. The weapons that have been looted from Libyan arms depots have been taken by a number of different actors, and the weapons will almost certainly proceed from Libya via a number of divergent channels. Because of this, controlling these arms may pose an even more difficult challenge than the arms intentionally proliferated by the Gadhafi regime.

Live Long and Prosper....

No comments: