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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Renewed Clashes In Tripoli Threaten Libyan Oil Production

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Renewed clashes broke out over the weekend in oil-rich Libya’s capital as militia forces aligned with the Government of National Unity (GNU) moved to ensure continued control after a failed attempt by the rival eastern-backed prime minister to take Tripoli last week.

Fighting took place in the city’s western outskirts on Friday and Saturday, Reuters reports.

Current interim prime minister Hamid Al-Dbeibah is attempting to shore up control and weed out militias aligned with newly appointed parliamentary-backed prime minister Fathi Bashagha.

Dbeibah’s key concern now is gaining control of various armed factions within Tripoli that have not aligned definitively with one side or the other.

Turkey could play the role of kingmaker here, with the ability to military intervene on either Dbeibah’s or Bashagha’s side, and both prime ministers visited the Turkish capital last week.

Al-Monitor poses that a quiet Turkish intervention has “tipped the balance of power in favor of Dbeibah”, and cites unnamed sources as saying that Bashagha left the meeting in Ankara “disgruntled”, though there is no independent confirmation of this.

At the same time, further fanning the flames, Libya’s former High Council of State head has accused the current head of the High Council of State and the speaker of the House of Representatives, the influential Aquila Saleh, of conspiring with Egyptian intelligence to install a new government without elections, the Libya Observer reports.

A week ago, the Libyan National Oil Company (NOC) reported that production had hit 1.22 million bpd. Libya hopes to boost output to 2 million bpd over the next three to five years, but progress may be slowed by the country’s inability to resolve its internal political rivalries, with all factions vying for their share of the country’s oil wealth.

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