The United Arab Emirates has begun using US-made planes to support a Russian-backed general in Libya, Time reported.
At least six American-made Archangel turboprop planes have been seen in satellite images of an airbase controlled by Russian-backed Gen. Khalifa Haftar, the leader of a faction fighting the US- and UN-backed government in Tripoli, Libya’s capital.
This move by the UAE is also violates a UN embargo that bans all transfers of weapons to Libya unless explicitly granted an exception.
Since former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi was killed in 2011, the country has fallen into near anarchy. Three governments are currently vying for power in the country, along with several insurgent groups, such as ISIS.
The conflict is further complicated by the fact that Russia, Egypt, and UAE support Haftar’s government, while the US and UN back the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Fayez al-Sarraj. When Gaddafi was killed in 2011, with the help of US and NATO air raids, Russia lost billions of dollars in arms deals and oil and gas exploration.
Since Haftar and al-Sarraj’s armies possess small air forces, this new development could tip the scales in Haftar’s favour. And while the two leaders met last week for the first time since January and reportedly agreed to a truce, no official statement has been released.
The American company that makes the planes, North Carolina-based Iomax USA, has sold 48 of the Archangels to the UAE.
Archangels are akin to crop-dusters and can also be fitted with advanced surveillance equipment and weapons.
They fly at slower speeds and low altitudes, making them ideal for patrolling borders and fighting insurgents at close range.
The UAE was one of the top 10 purchasers of US-made weaponry between 2011 and 2015. Egypt, which is also backing Haftar and has allowed Russia to keep troops in military bases along its border with Libya, is also among the top 10.
Some members of Congress have recently called for the US to “engage” with Libya in an attempt to halt Russian aggression in the oil-rich nation. President Donald Trump, however, has said that the US has “no role” in the country.
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