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French parliament forms committee to investigate 'suspicious' French role in Libya

Libyans burn a poster of French President Emmanuel Macron, accusing him of supporting Haftar [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 July, 2019

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The French parliament has formed a committee to investigate France’s “suspicious” activities in Libya after French missiles were found at an airbase controlled by rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar.

The French parliament has formed a committee to investigate the “clandestine and suspicious role” of France in Libya, after US-manufactured French missiles were found at an airbase belonging to rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar earlier this month.

The committee was formed following a proposal by 17 members of the left-wing parliamentary group La France Insoumise (Unbowing France).

The committee wants to investigate France’s role in Libya since Haftar began an offensive against the internationally-recognized Libyan government in Tripoli on April 4 this year. More than a thousand people have died as a result of the offensive.

The proposal said that France’s position in Libya "is characterised by favouring Haftar. On many occasions the Elysee [the French presidency] and the Foreign Ministry have said that the solution in Libya will be found through talks including Haftar."

The proposal noted that “France has publicly opposed violence, especially since the assault launched by Haftar on 4 April”.

Dubious policies

Despite its public position, the proposal to establish the committee noted that Paris' policies have not been as direct.

"For a few months there have been suspicions about the intentions and actions of the French government in Libya", the proposal said.

"Many observers suspect that there is clandestine activity favouring Mr. Haftar, in contrast to public statements by representatives of France.”

The proposal mentioned an incident which took place in April, shortly after Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli began, when an armed group consisting of 13 French nationals tried to cross the Tunisia-Libya border in vehicles with diplomatic licence plates. They were stopped by Tunisia authorities and denied entry.

The French missiles which were found at Haftar’s airbase in July were of the Javelin class, manufactured by the US and usually only supplied to close US allies. The Libyan government demanded an “urgent explanation” from France at the time as to how the missiles ended up in Haftar’s possession.

The French government admitted that the missiles were French but it denied supplying them to Haftar’s forces, in breach of a UN arms embargo, saying that the missiles had been lost after they were judged to have been defective.

Unlike most European parliaments, the French parliament doesn’t have the authority to regulate military action, which is a power reserved for the French president.

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