UAE deploying US-made planes to support rival Libyan authority

UAE deploying US-made planes to support rival Libyan authority
According to a report in TIME magazine at least six US-manufactured combat aircraft have been deployed in Libya in support of rogue general Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Russia.
2 min read
10 May, 2017
Libya has been racked by over six years of bitter conflict [Archive/Getty]

US manufactured combat aircraft are being used in Libya in violation of a UN arms embargo on the war-torn country, an American magazine has revealed.

The supply of at least six American-made turboprop planes to an eastern authority - the chief rival to the UN-backed government in Tripoli - could thwart US interests in Libya, according to a report published in TIME magazine.

The American weekly alleges that the UAE deployed at least six "Archangel" aircraft to Libya, where Abu Dhabi - along with Russia and Egypt - backs rogue Libyan general Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar has refused to recognise the US and UN-backed government of Fayez al-Serraj, based in Tripoli, and is supported by a rival government structure based in the east of the country.

In a report published on Tuesday, TIME cited satellite images of the al-Khadim airbase - published in an IHS Jane Defence report last year in October - located in eastern Libya, as seeming evidence of the deployment of six "Archangel" aircraft, manufactured by Iomax USA.

The US magazine noted that the North Carolina-based company has sold 48 such planes to the UAE.

Additional investigations by TIME also revealed the presence of Russian-made cargo planes at the base which witnessed a "substantial build up" over the second half of 2016.

A stock image of an Iomax Archangel [Twitter]

Iomax CEO Ron Howard, when contacted by TIME, acknowledged that aircraft manufactured by the company had been deployed in Libya.

The US state department declined to comment when contacted, said TIME.

Analysts say that the war planes could tip the scales of conflict in the country in Haftar's favour, with heavy weaponry in short supply due in part to a UN arms embargo.

Most fighters are equipped only with aging assault rifles, which has reduced the deadly impact on the civilian population.

Haftar and Serraj met in Abu Dhabi last week in a seeming diplomatic breakthrough in the conflict, ostensibly agreeing to end the division between their governments.

However, no official joint statement has emerged from the talks, with the US in particular wary of Russia's growing relationship with Haftar.

Following the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, an array of rivals have been vying for control of Libya.

In addition to the rivalry between Haftar and the UN-backed government in Tripoli, the lack of a central state has also enabled the Islamic State group to establish a presence in the North African country.