Tensions rise in Libya as the Government of National Unity – the UN recognised organisation in Tripoli – conducts airstrikes on smuggling networks, according to Reuters.
Since the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has experienced a complex and fragmented political landscape. The country quickly became divided between eastern and western factions, each with their own power centers and armed groups vying for control.
Though Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU) was created by a U.N.-backed process in 2021 with the intention of overseeing an election and unifying divisions, a vote was never held due to claims of illegitimacy. Nonetheless, a majority of western powers continue to support the GNU.
The GNU has announced that it carried out airstrikes targeting smuggling networks on May 25th. Blasts from the airstrikes hit a city home to armed factions supporting a rival administration. The GNU has been reported as saying “our national air force” had targeted criminal gangs involved in trafficking fuel, drugs and people.
According to three residents from Zawiya, located just west of Tripoli, they reported hearing explosions, and one of them also heard gunfire. Though the city has witnessed occasional clashes throughout the year between factions supporting and opposing the GNU, the recent skirmishes bring into question how international actors will approach the increasing instability in Libya.
Further adding to the current atmosphere of hostility and opposition, the eastern-based parliament accused the Prime Minister of Tripoli of attacking the homes of their officials.