Armed groups’ closure of the fuel and gas pipelines near the Zawiya oil refinery on the evening of May 29th poses a severe threat to the region. This move, made in retaliation of protests, not only disrupts the fuel and gas supply but also has the potential to impact electricity provision in western Libya, thus affecting the lives of numerous civilians, according to AFP.
Since the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has been plagued by political fragmentation. Divisions between eastern and western factions, each with their own power centers and armed groups, have hindered efforts to achieve unity.
On May 25th, the GNU announced they had carried out airstrikes against smuggling networks, targeting criminal groups involved in trafficking fuel, drugs, and people, which affected a city supporting a rival administration, according to Maghrebi.
The east-based Libyan parliament accused the Government of National Unity (GNU) of having ulterior motives in its violent actions against Zawiya and argues that their true objective is to “settle political scores.” This raises concerns about the severity of the situation and the potential consequences for the local population.
A GNU’s ministry of defense stated that it has started “the second phase” of its armed operations in the region of Zawiya, the increased use of drones is becoming a prime issue for the east-based Libyan government.
After confirmed reports of Dbeibah signing a deal for the purchase of drones during a recent visit to Turkey, there is much speculation about the relationship between the GNU and Turkey. Accusations made by a number of Libyan political players and media reports have alleged Turkish drones were used in the operations in Zawiya, though the Turkish representative insists that his country is only keen to support Libya’s stability and stronger relations between the two countries, according to AFP.
Khaled al-Mishri, the head of the State Council, called on the Presidential Council to revoke the GNU’s ability to use drones, citing that the Dbeibah, as a government official, has been using his tools to “to settle political scores” under “the pretext of combating crime.”
As tensions continue to rise and the tipping point for Libya seems ever closer, Suleiman Al-Bayoudi, Libyan presidential candidate, stated “There is a clear attempt to ignite the fuse of war in Libya, which illustrates the fact that Dbeibah is no longer a unifying figure, but rather a real threat to Libya’s stability.”