UN Libya Envoy: Unfair division of natural wealth the cause of Libya conflict

North Africa

As grievances from economic inequalities become increasingly manifest in the ongoing civil war in Libya, the UN has called for a political solution that guarantees the equal distribution of wealth generated by Libya's natural resources. 

Heavy fighting has continued in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and the surrounding area, as air raids have been launched by Libyan National Army (LNA) aircraft on several targets to the south of the city and in nearby Zawia.

The LNA, led by Khalifa Haftar, claims that it has been targeting “militants” affiliated with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). Several sources in Libya have raised concerns about the significance of the latest clashes, believing them to be the most violent since the Libyan military operation to re-capture Tripoli began. 

Both the LNA and GNA have been accused of using heavy artillery in densely populated residential areas, including Ain Zara, Khallet al-Furjan and al-Kremiah, with fighting also reported near Tripoli International Airport. Following the clashes, it was Haftar’s forces who claimed the strategic upper hand, vowing to draw to a close their bloody battle for Libya’s capital “soon”. 

Meanwhile, Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the GNA, whilst not claiming any advances in the recent clashes, denied Haftar’s proclamation, insisting that his forces successfully repelled attempts by the LNA to advance on the fronts of Tripoli. 

With the Libyan Civil War in its fifth year, there appears to be growing consensus around its root causes and exacerbating factors. Recently, the United Nations once again appealed for a cessation in hostilities in the interests of humanitarian relief for the people of Tripoli, many of whom in desperate need of aid.

The UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamah made specific reference to the country’s oil resources and the income inequality that has resulted from the battle for control over them, stressing that the political solution lies in equal distribution of the wealth generated from oil and the establishment of international body of control over it. All the while, Salamah stressed that the UN wishes to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Libyans. 

Oil is not the only natural resource currently being fought over in Libya. Local reports confirm the revenues from black gold continue to be managed by organisations affiliated with the GNA, with the LNA enjoying the proceeds from the oil fields in the south of the country.