Libya militia leader Haftar 'lost millions of dollars' on undelivered weapons sales

Libya militia leader Haftar 'lost millions of dollars' on undelivered weapons sales
Libya's rogue general has reportedly lost over $55 million to western mercenaries and businessmen in purchased war apparatus that never turned up, a report found.
3 min read
11 June, 2020
The rebel general was 'swindled' [Getty]

Rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar has spent tens of millions of dollars on undelivered weaponry and services promised to him by western mercenaries and businessmen, a new report has found.

The head of the rebel militias fighting the UN-recognised government has lost some $55 million after weapons Haftar ordered - including an assault helicopter, a reconnaissance plane, and an offshore patrol vessel - were paid for but not delivered, diplomatic sources told The Independent.

This follows after a series of decisive defeats suffered by Haftar's forces in western Libya at the hands of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar has the backing from several foreign powers including Russia and the UAE, while the Tripoli-based GNA is aided by Turkey

Haftar’s aides denied claims a deal took place, and told the publication the GNA was spreading "propaganda".

United Nations  investigators determined that 20 foreign mercenaries - including five Britons, 12 South Africans, two Australians, and an American - were paid more than $120,000 each last June to create a marine task force to help Haftar in his botched attempt to take Tripoli.

The February report, seen by The New York Times at the time, discovered that the mercenaries were paid more than $80 million for services, as well as a number of war equipment including an aircraft.

The deal quickly went south just hours after the mercenaries landed in east Syria, and according to two diplomats with knowledge of the report who presented to the Security Council’s sanctions committee at the time, the mercs fled to Malta last June in two inflatable boats (RHIB).

A fight had broken out between the mercenaries and Haftar over the deal, after they provided weaponry worth only $30 million - not the $80 million Haftar had paid.

The report claimed the expedition had been organised and financed by secret companies in the UAE.

The UN probe, according to one source, found that General Haftar had been given six helicopters that were of an older model than what he paid for - three Gazelles and three Pumas.

Haftar, according to a document obtained by the UN, had expected more combat aircraft, including a Cobra attack helicopter and a LASA T-bird.

Read more: France and Turkey's growing rivalry in the Middle East

The two diplomats alleged that two Dubai-based companies, Lancaster 6 and Opus were named by UN investigators as allegedly paying for the deals.

Both companies vehemently denied its involvement and a spokesperson for Lancaster 6, whilst acknowledging the presence of the group in Libya for a "very short period" of time, intend to "vigorously prosecute any false and misleading allegations".

Foreign interference

Turkey on Thursday rejected an Egyptian peace initiative in Libya after victories against Haftar and said it favoured a binding ceasefire under UN auspices.

"The call for ceasefire or the joint declaration, to us, is stillborn. It's not realistic, it's not sincere," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the private NTV broadcaster.

Egypt has pressed for a ceasefire in Libya in an initiative also backed by the UAE. Both countries support Haftar against the GNA.

The Turkish-backed GNA based in Tripoli has in recent weeks recaptured all remaining outposts in western Libya from pro-Haftar loyalists, who had sought to seize the capital in a 14-month offensive.

The so-called "Cairo declaration", which comes after GNA's battlefield successes, called for the withdrawal of "foreign mercenaries from all Libyan territory, dismantling militias and handing over their weaponry."

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