The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says that it suspects that Libya received a shipment of military equipment from Belarus – just as the government is alleged to have begun a violent crackdown on protesters.
SIPRI says an Ilyushin-76 aircraft left a military base near the Belarusian city of Baranovichi and landed at the Libyan airport of Sebha in mid-February.
“The aircraft came from a dedicated military base that only handles stockpiled weaponry and military equipment,” Hugh Griffiths, an arms trafficking expert at SIPRI, said. He added that the Sebha airport where the plane landed was a key military logistics base in Libya’s south.
Griffiths said a Libyan government plane has made two trips to Belarus in the past week, although it is unclear who or what cargo was on board.
It seems strange that the Gaddafi regime would need to arm itself at such short notice, but perhaps they realised they were losing control of many stockpiles of weapons around the country and that some military defection would follow.
It is also worth noting that Belarus has grown much closer to Russia over recent years, some calling it a Russian state. Perhaps Russia is covertly helping Gaddafi, using Belarus as a proxy. Despite what most of the media say, Gaddafi has many friends around the world. These people are not fools and the developments in the coming days will be very interesting indeed. I sincerely hope that a full-scale civil war is averted and personally wish more Western diplomats would call for negotiations and dialogue instead of pushing Gaddafi into a corner from which he may feel forced to lash out.