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Vol 59 No 6

Published 23rd March 2018


Seizing the spoils of war

From people-trafficking to oil theft, crime is the mainstay of all the armed groups. International organisations are finally acting

Local and international authorities are finally moving against Libya's myriad criminal networks, which finance militias and make personal fortunes. Yet criminality remains pervasive across rival factions. A leaked United Nations Libya Experts Panel interim report – which the UN has since sought to disown, after the panel's Coordinator expressed his 'extreme concern' at the security implications – said military campaigns launched in mid-2014 against Da'ish (Islamic State) by the Misurata and other militias (Operation Dawn) and Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (Operation Dignity) had 'dramatically accelerated the depletion of Libya's wealth'. The plunder follows on the 'absence of effective control mechanisms, [and with the] complicity of members of the political establishment and empowerment of armed groups'. Initially 'motivated by a will to finance political and military operations, members of those networks have since developed networks of private interests across the board'.

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