The Le Figaro report suggests that earlier arms shipments to the rebels likewise originated in France, even if they came via Qatar and other Gulf states. Citing an unnamed “well-placed source,” the paper explains, “If the French army decided to get involved without intermediaries…, this is ‘because there was no other way to proceed….’” The Arab allies apparently lacked the technical capacity to make pinpoint armaments drops in a mountainous region. In the meanwhile, however, the Berber rebel forces are supposed to have set up two runways permitting shipments by small plane from the Gulf states.

The reported involvement of Qatar in arming the rebels is notable in and of itself. The state-owned Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera has played a prominent role in broadcasting reports of alleged atrocities committed by Libyan government forces. Such reports have served to provide much of the justification for international intervention in the Libyan conflict.