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Dryad Global Annual Report 2022/2023: Libya

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In 2022, Libya continued to face a range of security challenges that had significant implications for the maritime domain.

The ongoing conflict between the Government of National Unity (GNU) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) remained a central issue, resulting in widespread violence, displacement, and an unstable environment within Libya. A notable development was the increased rate of inter-militia conflict towards the end of 2022. Foreign fighters and mercenaries were also involved in the conflict, further exacerbating the instability and impeding efforts towards lasting peace. The proliferation of weapons throughout the country posed a continuous risk, making Libya increasingly dangerous and heightening the potential for violence. 

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The security challenges experienced in Libya had a notable impact on the maritime domain. The conflict led to the closure of oil terminals and disruptions in maritime trade, adversely affecting the Libyan economy and impeding the country's reconstruction efforts. The closure of oil terminals, including the Zueitina terminal, due to security concerns, directly contributed to a decline in oil production and exports. This had severe economic implications, making it difficult for Libya to meet its international obligations, including debt payments. 

Of particular concern was an incident on March 8, 2022, involving the hijacking of the Morning Glory tanker carrying crude oil. Described both as a vessel detention by the LNA and an act of piracy, the incident highlighted the vulnerability of oil tankers to attacks. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) condemned the incident and emphasized the security risks posed to maritime traffic in the region. Similarly, the closure of the Zueitina oil terminal due to security concerns related to the ongoing conflict underscored the challenges faced by maritime operations and trade in the area. 

The security situation in Libya remains complex and challenging, with no easy solution in sight. A peaceful resolution to the conflict and the strengthening of state institutions are crucial for long-term security in Libya and the maritime domain in the region. While reunification became a stronger topic of conversation between the opposing governing parties within Libya towards the end of 2022, it remains an unlikely possibility in the short- to medium-term. This stabilising goal will remain difficult to achieve if Libya continues to fail in addressing the underlying factors contributing to the conflict, combating the presence of foreign fighters and mercenaries, and implementing effective security measures—all of which are necessary to mitigate the security risks in Libya and create a stable environment for maritime operations. International cooperation and support continue to play a vital role in assisting Libya towards achieving security, stability, and economic prosperity.