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Oil Port Battle Highlights Threat of Libya Break-Up

El Saharara oil field in Libya (Javier Blas/Creative Commons license)
El Saharara oil field in Libya (Javier Blas/Creative Commons license)

Ulf Laessing, REUTERS

 

BEN JAWAD, Libya (Reuters)—Hidden behind a pile of sand, a tank points its gun towards Libya’s biggest oil port on the other side of an invisible frontier that now divides the north African nation.

Factions fighting for control of Libya and its oil wealth have moved columns of heavy weapons to this new front line running through the middle of the country, escalating a conflict that Western powers fear may lead to a national break-up four years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

In an attempt to prevent Libya from sliding into all-out civil war, the United Nations hopes in the coming days to resume peace negotiations between the warring parties, which are allied to rival governments running what amount to competing states in the west and east of the country. Talks so far have made little progress.

 

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