Ex-Irish soldiers training Khalifa Haftar's forces in Libya amid UN arms embargo

Ex-Irish soldiers training Khalifa Haftar's forces in Libya amid UN arms embargo
The training and equipping of of armed forces in Libya breaches the UN's arms embargo on the country, which has been in place since 2011.
2 min read
03 April, 2024
Ex-Irish soldiers were contracted to train the 166 Infantry Brigade of the Libyan National Army [Getty]

An Irish company is using former Irish soldiers to train the military forces of Libyan general Khalifa Haftar in the east of the country.

The training, conducted by a company called Irish Training Solutions, is for the self-styled Libyan National Army's 166 Infantry Brigade, an investigation by The Irish Times found.

According to the investigation the Ireland-based company, co-owned by former soldiers Danny Cluskey, Darren Kelly and Nigel McCormack, took a multimillion-euro contract in both 2023 and 2024 for the training.

The training included special forces training on close quarters combat, house assaults and raids against drug smuggling, as well as in the use of firearms and mortars, and reconnaissance and medical training.

The Irish Times also found that the soldiers, formerly part of the Irish Defence Forces and it's Army Rangers Wing, had supplied the brigades' members with equipment and uniforms.

Both the training and supplying of armed forces in Libya has been under a UN arms embargo since 2011 following the outbreak of civil war between former Libyan dictator and Muammar Gaddafi and anti-regime fighters.

The EU has also placed restrictions on training and technical assistance for forces in Libya, with Ireland participating in attempts to enforce said embargo in 2023, as the training was occurring.

The investigation stated that the trainer salaries were switched to a Dubai based company called SOF Training part way through the programme, which they said  could be a way of avoiding Irish attempts to scrutinize the company's activity.


Records from the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) ministry of economy showed the SOF Training had been granted the ability to provide "security training", although The Irish Times was unable to confirm the owners of the company.

The UN has previously accused the UAE of breaching its arms embargo on the country.

While Danny Cluskey told The Irish Times "I have nothing to say about it", McCormack and Kelly declined to comment. The 166 Infantry Brigade and Libyan National Army did not respond to requests for comment.

Haftar leads a military force in the country's east which attempted to overthrow the UN-backed Tripoli government from 2019 through to 2020.

That campaign, which was backed by the UAE and Russia's Wagner mercenary group, was stopped after Turkey intervened to militarily support the Tripoli government.

The Tripoli government and rival Tobruk-based government have since been undergoing years-long negotiations to hold fresh elections in a bid to form a unity government for the whole of the country.