Cablegate: Libya Seeks to Purchase 130,000 Kalashnikovs for Unknown End-Users
DE RUEHTRO #0650 2311615
ZNY CCCCC ZZH ZDK ZDS
P 181615Z AUG 08 CCY
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3781
INFO RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM PRIORITY 0128
RUEHNJ/AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA PRIORITY 0136
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0748
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1189
RUEHNM/AMEMBASSY NIAMEY PRIORITY 0032
RUEHBP/AMEMBASSY BAMAKO PRIORITY 0017
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4295
C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000650
C O R R E C T E D COPY - CHGD TXT PARA 2
E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/18/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR PARM KNNP LY UK UP CD SU
SUBJECT: LIBYA SEEKS TO PURCHASE 130,000 KALASHNIKOVS FOR UNKNOWN END-USERS
CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) UK Embassy PolOff told P/E Chief on August 10 that HMG's Embassy in Tripoli had recently received a request from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to vet a request for a license to export to Libya a sizeable quantity of automatic rifles. UK company York Guns, acting as the intermediary between an unidentified Ukrainian arms manufacturer and procurement officials at Libya's Temporary People's Committee for Defense (MinDefense-equivalent), has requested an export license to deliver 130,000 Kalashnikov automatic rifles (NFI on model) to Libya in the fourth quarter of 2008. According to UK PolOff, it is not clear what the rifles would be used for; attempts to solicit further information from York Guns representatives and Government of Libya (GOL) officials have "raised more questions than they answered".
2. (C) He said the UK had received no answer as to whether the weapons would be used to equip Libyan military units, and in any event was skeptical that such would be the case given the quantity involved. (Note: Information available to the DATT suggest that Libya's armed forces comprise approximately 90,000 personnel, of which some 60,000 are in the ground forces. The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies puts the total number of military personnel at 76,000. End note.) UK PolOff noted that the UK is concerned that the intention may be to re-export the weapons, particularly to armed rebel factions backed by Khartoum and/or Ndjamena in the Chad/Sudan conflict. He thought the license request would not be approved.
3. (SBU) In a similar case reported in open source media in April, Italian police arrested a number of Italian arms traffickers in February 2007 who were finalizing arrangements for the delivery of 500,000 Chinese-manufacture T-56 automatic rifles to Libya. The 500,000 represented the initial tranche of a deal that was to have included one million automatic rifles and 10 million rounds of ammunition. Media reports and Italian contacts indicated that Italian authorities concluded from their investigation that the weapons were to have been re-exported from Libya to Chad and Sudan.
4. (C) Comment: The fact that York Guns and GOL officials have been vague about the intended end-use of the 130,000 Kalashnikov rifles raises potentially troubling questions about the extent to which Libya is still involved in supplying military materiel to parties involved in the Chad/Sudan conflict. End comment.