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UN experts: Trump ally, UAE companies violated Libyan sanctions

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UNITED NATIONS (PA) US security entrepreneur Erik Prince, a close ally of former US President Donald Trump, violated the UN arms embargo against Libya alongside three companies based in the Arab Emirates United and their senior personnel in an operation to aid a rebel military commander. take the capital Tripoli, UN experts said.

In a key section of a report to the UN Security Council obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday, the panel described an operation by a well-funded private military company called Project Opus, designed to provide materiel military officer to Commander Khalifa Hifter, based in the east.

Project Opus’s plan also included an element to kidnap or fire individuals considered high-value targets in Libya, experts said.

The plan was first reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that overthrew longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi and split the country between a UN-backed government in Tripoli and authorities rivals based in the east of the country, each side being supported by a set of local militias. as well as regional and foreign powers.

In April 2019, Hifter and his forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive in an attempt to capture Tripoli. His campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up military support for the UN-backed government with hundreds of soldiers and thousands of Syrian mercenaries. An October ceasefire agreement led to an agreement on a transitional government and elections scheduled for December 24.

The expert group report said it identified the Opus project in June 2019.

It was designed for private military companies to provide Hifters forces with rotary-wing aviation capabilities of armed assault, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for intelligence (ISR), maritime interdiction, cyber, d ‘UAV and fusion and targeting intelligence, experts said,

Prince became involved when Jordanian authorities learned of elements of the plan and suspended the auction of surplus military helicopters in Hifter on June 18, 2019, experts said.

This forced the Project Opus team to launch a contingency plan to quickly identify and purchase new aircraft, the committee said.

These included three medium utility helicopters from a South African company and three light utility helicopters from a United Arab Emirates company, experts said. An Antonov AN-26B from a Bermudan company, a LASA T-Bird light attack aircraft from a Bulgarian company and a Pilatus PC-6 ISR aircraft from an Austrian company were also purchased on a tight deadline.

The panel said the Antonov, the LASA light strike aircraft and the Pilatus had been deployed prior to any payment and normal due diligence had taken place, demonstrating that a fourth person, Erik Dean Prince (U.S. United), who controlled the companies that owned the aircraft, assisted with the procurement. for the operation.

No one else was able to arrange for the sale of these planes on such a short notice, experts said.

The panel said further investigations revealed that Erik Prince made a proposed operation to Khalifa Hifter in Cairo, Egypt on or around April 14, 2019.

The panel said it therefore concluded that Erik Prince violated the 2011 Security Council resolution imposing an arms embargo on Libya in that, at the very least, he … helped to circumvent them. provisions of the arms embargo in Libya.

Prince, founder of the controversial security company Blackwater, rose to fame after Blackwater employees in 2007 shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in central Baghdad during the Iraq war. After the scandal the name of the company was changed and Prince sold his shares to a private equity fund. He would now head a private equity fund focused on investments in frontier emerging markets.

Prince has been accused of acting as a side channel on behalf of Trump. Her sister, Betsy DeVos, was the education secretary for the Trump administration.

The panel of experts said that three companies based in the United Arab Emirates were mainly used for the planning, management and financing of the operation under the Opus project.

He identified them as Lancaster 6 DMCC, L-6 FZE and Opus Capital Asset Limited FZE.

The companies were controlled and managed by Christiaan Paul Durrant from Australia and Amanda Kate Perry from the UK, with the ground crew leader being Stephen John Lodge from South Africa.

The panel said the three companies and individuals were found … to have violated the 2011 Council resolution in that they each violated or helped circumvent the provisions of the arms embargo in Libya.

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