When the French government came public early this week with arming the rebels in Libya, international criticism was quick and harsh. How could France simply drop weapons from the sky and assume they were reaching the right people?
It turns out they couldn’t ensure the weapons were reaching only the rebels. Speaking today Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel complained that the French-dropped weapons are already showing up across the region in the hands of the al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
AQIM, whose operations span much of northwest Africa, seem to be capitalizing well on the civil war in Libya, using the free flow of weapons in the country and the number of defecting army officials with weapons to sell as a chance to upgrade their own arsenals.
Which would be unsurprising if France had noticed the American example, where the Obama Administration shipped literally “tons” of arms into Somalia and within weeks those arms were being openly hawked in weapons bazaars and wielded by the militant factions the US was nominally arming the regime against. In such warzones the attempts to arm one faction at the expense of others inevitably fails, with the weapons finding their way into the hands of virtually every combatant and only serving to escalate the fight.