In a February 3 post, Arms Exporters React to Middle East Unrest , Arms Control Now noted that the United States had not sold military goods to Libya and had maintained a unilateral embargo on arms sales to Col. Gaddafi’s regime which was last updated in 2007.
This picture of the U.S.-Libyan trade relationship is overly simplistic. Beginning in 2006 and continuing through 2009, the United States began to relax direct commercial sales rules for transfers to Libya of controlled items on the U.S. Munitions List. The 2007 changes to the embargo included an exemption for “non-lethal defense articles and defense services, and nonlethal safety-of-use defense articles… as spare parts for lethal end-items.”
The Department of Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) publishes a Historical Facts Book on its website that was last updated in September, 2009. According to this document, controlled goods worth $33,000 were shipped to Libya in 2006, followed by $350,000 in 2007, and $842,000 in 2008. No figures are available for 2009 or 2010 yet.
The State Department posts annual breakdowns of licenses granted for Direct Commercial Sales on its website in a publication known as the ’655 report’, after the section of the Foreign Assistance Act that mandates this transparency measure. The reports for 2006, 2007, and 2008 show that licenses worth roughly $54 million were approved for the sale of aircraft components, parts, or equipment. Also issued were licenses for explosives worth $1,141,160, military electronics worth $56,018, and fire control, range finding, optical and guidance and control equipment worth $27,715. Not all licenses result in transfers, making it difficult to know exactly how much of this equipment made its way to Libya.
In addition, in 2009 a DSCA official confirmed that Libya had also submitted a license request for the purchase of Humvees. According to Reuters, representatives of defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing Co., and Raytheon Co. have visited Libya in recent years as members of trade delegations.
- Special thanks to Colby Goodman for bringing much of this information to our attention