French, British Moves to Arm Libya Rebels Decried

As World Condemns Armament, Rebels Demand More

The announcement earlier this week that the French military had delivered armaments to tribal fighters loyal to the East Libyan rebel faction through airlift has sparked a reaction of growing consternation the world over, as those nations uninvolved in the civil war express concern that NATO nations should be fueling the conflict further with deliveries of weapons and armor.

The African Union expressed concern that the French weapons would be destabilizing to the entire region, and that there was no way to assure that weapons dropped from the sky wouldn’t fall into the hands of terrorist factions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov termed the arms a “very crude violation of UN Security Council resolution 1970.”

NATO, for its part, insists it is not directly involved in sending the arms to the rebels, but that France was acting unilaterally.

Since the revelation Britain too has admitted to providing equipment to the rebels, though they insist that it has been strictly limited to communications, armor and uniforms. This led to condemnations from the rebels, who insisted they need weapons, not uniforms.

Indeed the rebels also said France’s weapons were insufficient, and that they want massive deliveries of foreign-made weapons to “decide this battle quickly.” NATO member nations attacked Libya on March 19, but the civil war was already in progress before this, and by all accounts very little territory is changing hands one way or the other in the fight over the past months. This seems to have convinced France and Britain that direct aid will break the stalemate, but given the vast landscape and the general split in support among the population of east and west Libya, many fear it will only make a bloody stalemate far bloodier.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.