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Egypt seeks U.S. gear to help secure border with Libya
by Richard Tomkins
Washington (UPI) Jun 4, 2015

Russia, China block UN Libya sanctions
United Nations, United States (AFP) June 5, 2015 - Russia and China on Friday opposed a US-led request to impose sanctions on two Libyans accused of obstructing UN talks on forming a national unity government, diplomats said.

Britain, France, Spain and the United States had sought the measures to shore up efforts by UN envoy Bernardino Leon to clinch a political deal before the start of Ramadan on June 17.

The four countries asked that a global travel ban and an assets freeze be imposed on Abdul Rahman Swehli, a politician from Misrata, and Othman Maliqta, commander of the Zintani Qaqa brigade.

A new crucial round of talks is opening in Rabat on Monday.

The UN sanctions committee had given the 15 members of the Security Council until 1900 GMT to raise objections.

Russia spoke out against the move, arguing that the request "had not been prepared properly but in a rush" and that it lacked evidence or documents on the two Libyans' actions, according to the response seen by AFP.

China said the political talks were "at a critical junction" and that the council "should be very careful and take more time to consider this issue".

The sanctions request by the four countries was further complicated when Libya's UN Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi sent a letter to the council, casting doubt over whether the measures would be helpful.

The two Libyans are not considered high-profile, but the decision to target them first was aimed at sending a message to more senior-ranking officials that they must get onboard.

Libyan factions agreed during Geneva talks in January to set up a national unity government to restore stability that has been shattered since the 2011 fall of Moamer Kadhafi.

But months of UN-brokered negotiations have yet to produce a political accord.

Abdul Rahman Swehli is chairman of the Libyan Union for the Homeland Party who reportedly pressed for an attack by Libya Dawn militias against the oil port of Sidra in February to disrupt the talks and strengthen his position.

Othman Maliqta commanded forces that attacked the parliament in Tripoli in May 2014, using trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns, mortars and rocket fire.

Libya has two sets of rival parliaments and governments, with Tripoli controlled by Libyan Dawn forces who seized the capital last year, forcing the internationally recognized government to operate out of Tobruk, in the east of the country.

The chaos has turned the north African country into a staging ground for migrant smuggling across the Mediterranean to Europe, and there is mounting alarm over gains made by extremists like the Islamic State group.

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Egypt is seeking U.S. help in securing its border with Libya, where Islamist groups are battling for control of the country.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, in charge of U.S. Foreign Military Sales deals, said the government in Cairo has asked Washington for a border security mobile surveillance sensor security system and associated equipment, parts and logistical support.

The proposed deal, which has received approval from the U.S. State Department, would be worth an estimated $100 million, the agency said in its required notification to Congress.

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East," DSCA said.

"This mobile surveillance sensor security system will provide Egypt with advanced capabilities intended to bolster its border surveillance capabilities along its border with Libya and elsewhere. This procurement is intended for Egyptian Border Guard Forces, which currently lack any remote detection capability along unpatrolled areas of Egypt's borders.

"This system would provide an early warning capability to allow for faster response times to mitigate threats to the border guards and the civilian population," it said.

The proposed sales package consists of procurement and construction of one commercial off-the-shelf border security mobile surveillance sensor security system and sub-systems; mobile surveillance sensor towers; mobile command-and-control systems; a regional C2 system; voice/data communications equipment; spare parts; support equipment; personnel training and training equipment; and logistics and program support.

Principal contractors would be Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and DRS Technologies.

If the proposed sale goes through, periodic travel to Egypt by multiple U.S. government and contractor representatives would be required over a five-year period.

In other FMS developments, Lebanon has asked the United States for AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $146 million.

The sales deal, if approved, would cover provision of 1,000 AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles, containers, repair and return, spare and repair parts, support equipment, and U.S. government and contractor logistics and technical support services.

"The proposed sale will improve Lebanon's capability to meet current and future threats," the agency said. "Lebanon will use the enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense and to replenish existing stock levels.

"The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region."

The prime contractor would be Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control. Implementation of this proposed sale, which has State Department approval, will not require any additional U.S. government or contractor representatives to Lebanon.

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