US sanctions Libya smuggling network and pushes for negotiated settlement to conflict

Washington says the network, operating out of the western port of Zuwara, contributed to instability in the country

A Libyan coastguard slits a dinghy that was used by migrants trying to reach Europe, at a naval base Ismail Zitouny / Reuters
A Libyan coastguard slits a dinghy that was used by migrants trying to reach Europe, at a naval base Ismail Zitouny / Reuters

The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on a network of smugglers in Libya who have trafficked drugs and fuel in and out of the war-ravaged country.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on Thursday announced the sanctions against the network which it said had contributed to instability in Libya

It blacklisted Libyan national Faysal Al Wadi, saying he smuggled drugs and Libyan fuel into Malta.

Also blacklisted were two associates, Musbah Al Wadi and Nourddin Musbah, Maltese company Alwefaq, and the ship Maraya, which the Treasury said Faysal Al Wadi used in his smuggling operations.

“Faysal Al Wadi and his associates have smuggled fuel from Libya and used Libya as a transit zone to smuggle illicit drugs,” US Treasury deputy secretary Justin Muzinich said.

Faysal Al Wadi, the US claimed, worked with a network of contacts in North Africa and southern Europe in its operations.

"Wadi’s illicit trafficking operation transported drugs between the Libyan port of Zuwara and Hurd’s Bank, just outside Malta’s territorial waters,” Mr Muzinich said.

The US has intensified its diplomatic push for a peaceful solution to the Libyan conflict.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The pair stressed “the importance of supporting a UN-brokered ceasefire in Libya through political and economic talks", the state department said.

On Tuesday, US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien condemned foreign intervention in Libya’s affairs.

“The United States is deeply troubled by the escalating conflict in Libya," Mr O'Brien said.

"We strongly oppose foreign military involvement, including the use of mercenaries and private military contractors, by all sides."

He said outside interference “undermines the collective security interests of the US and our allies and partners in the nMediterranean region.”

Mr O’Brien urged all parties to return to UN-led negotiations.

Updated: August 7, 2020 03:58 AM

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