Editor’s Note: April 08, 2019

Libya takes a big step backwards

The U.S. has called for an “immediate halt” to military operations in Libya amid fears about renewed conflict in the country.

This comes days after Khalifa Haftar, the leader of one of Libya’s two main rival political and military factions, ordered his forces to descend on the capital Tripoli in the west of the country. The city is home to the rival UN-backed government of prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Tensions are rising amid reports of clashes near Tripoli, leaving at least 21 dead.

It’s bad news for Libya, and the standoff is likely to reverberate beyond the North African country of around 6m people. 

Oil prices have hit a five-month high on concerns about oil production in the OPEC member. Previous clashes have cut production by as much as 800,000 barrels per day.

Libya is also an important hub for migration across the Mediterranean, and the EU’s efforts to stop it.

The confrontation is a big step backwards for reconciliation efforts aimed at ending years of military and political conflict since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. 

It comes just days after the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres visited Libya to push planned presidential elections in 2019.

These were supposed to restore peace and stability, which now looks unlikely.

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