As the fallout from last week’s international meeting in Vienna becomes public it appears that after much deliberation, the international community has indicated that it is considering the lifting of the arms embargo which was imposed on Libya in 2011.
As the power struggle continues between the east and western governments, the question remains on who will be armed and with what type of weapons as Fayez Al-Serraj’s government calls for aircraft support. More than likely, the embargo lift will be staged and support the recent formation of the presidential guard which is tasked to protect airports, ports and ministerial offices. Weapons would not be supplied to eastern forces (Hafter) as this would go against the UN’s declaration to stop support and administration for authorities opposing the National Unity Government.
PM Serraj has also requested the help of the European Union in training the country’s security services, naval forces and coast guard, but not a foreign military intervention. The EU governments hoped that the unity government would allow permission for naval forces to enter Libyan waters in their continued fight against the migration crises. Meanwhile, migrants from various African countries - including 79 women, 11 of them pregnant - were found in seven inflatable boats near Sabratah, west of the capital Tripoli. More than 30,000 migrants have already crossed from Libya to Italy this year.
A positive note between the rival governmental factions has been agreed in principle this week to have one oil organisation, the foreign minister in the new U.N.-backed national unity government said on Tuesday.
Tripoli city centre has been quiet with no additional reports of the increased kidnapping that had been taken place recently. In the south of the city two armed men opened fire on a security checkpoint on Sunday afternoon, killing four security personnel.
To the west of Tripoli in Surman, clashes between two armed groups trying to gain control of the area near the central school concluded with at least three killed and several others injured.
Forces loyal to Libya's UN-backed unity government pushed Islamic State fighters back towards their stronghold of Sirte on Wednesday but lost more than 30 men, including seven killed in a car bombing. The advance came a day after military forces re-took Abu Grain checkpoint and control of the villages of Abu Najaym and Zamzam. Military spokesmen Mohamed al Garsri declared the completion of the first stage of al-Bonyan al-Marsous, naming the operation to retake Sirte.
The east of the country has seen an escalation in fighting compared to the previous few weeks as Libyan air force jets attacked locations in Alhmala and Qar Yunmi’s in Benghazi which was followed by sporadic clashes that took place between LNA and armed militants in Sabri and Al Qawarishah with reported casualties.
On Thursday, militants shelled areas near Benghazi Medical Centre, killing four and injuring eight as LNA shelled known militant positions.
Along the coast in Derna, LNA forces gave Derna Shura Council fighters a 48-hour ultimatum to surrender or be bombed on Thursday which was followed shortly by Mujahedeen Shura council deploying fighters to secure city entrances. As the warnings continued, General Hafter’s Dignity operation helicopters and planes conducted airstrikes.
As the western Misratan forces have been caught up in battle this week, reports from Al Jufra, state that militia’s affiliated to General Hafter have taken control of 14 oil fields in the Marada and Zilia basins, all which are now devoid of workers.
The south has again remained quiet with little reporting. Concerns are growing that as IS are dispersed from their northern locations a new gateway could emerge as they link up with Al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups in sub-Saharan Africa as the lucrative income from smuggling takes shape.