Although UNSMIL’s Chief Bernardino Leon and Libya’s Western partners continue to staunchly promote the undertaking of negotiations to follow up on the Ghadames process, hardly any positive developments have emerged from the country during the past week.

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Operation Shuruq appears to not be satisfied with the current stalemate in Ben Jawad. On the contrary, the latest attack on Sidra’s terminal shows that Operation Shuruq is keen to continue fighting with all means available until it achieves full control of the oil terminals.

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Operation Shuruq (Sunrise) forces carried out a surprise attack on Sidra’s oil terminal employing speedboats and rockets. Although Operation Dignity forces repelled the attack, one of Operation Shuruq’s rockets fell on an oil storage tank, starting a fire that spread to five tanks.

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The battle to control Libya’s energy sector is ongoing and shows little sign of letting up. Although the Misratan led alliance forces that go by the name Libya Sunrise (Shuruq Libiyya) is still on the back foot, it has not given up the fight.

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On 13 December a group of brigades from Misrata in conjunction with Ansar al-Sharia in Sirte began advancing on the oil crescent in an attempt to ‘liberate’ the country’s energy facilities.

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The future of the UN-sponsored peace talks known as the Ghadames II dialogue is still uncertain. The talks had been due to go ahead on 9 December but were postponed at the last moment and rescheduled for 16 December.

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The attack by Misratan forces called operation Shuruq is already being perceived by some as an assault by the west against the east. Indeed, the move is provoking uproar in eastern towns such as Ajdabiyya. Haftar is preparing to take the battle to Derna and is readying himself for a major assault against the town.

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Sirte continues to be the object of a struggle between Misrata-aligned forces and radical Islamist groups aligned with Ansar al-Shari’a. Derna continues to be a hotbed of radical Islamist militias.

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UN Special Representative to Libya, Bernardino Leon has continued his efforts this week to try to bring Libya’s warring parties together and to convince them to participate in the next round of UN-sponsored peace talks.

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