In the coming weeks, Libya’s oil crescent is likely to witness increased tension between three actors: the Libyan National Army (LNA), the Government of National Accord-aligned Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), and renegade Islamist militias… The reversal of military momentum once more in favour of the LNA, coupled with the Islamist subversion of the GNA’s anti-ISIS, efforts is bolstering the political position of Haftar and anti-GNA factions… After several Islamist militias broke away from the GNA’s Bunyan Marsus coalition and attacked Ajdabiya on 18 June, the GNA’s political position in the oil crescent was severely compromised, and with it the standing of PFG forces loyal to Ibrahim Jadhran… Meanwhile, the GNA is still holed up in Abu Setta naval base, while other militias affiliated to Islamist forces have a freer hand in the Tripoli.

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The political damage to the Government of National Accord (GNA), following the attack on Ajdabiya on 18 June by Islamist militias, may undo fragile militia alliances in Tripoli and key towns in western Libya. Meanwhile, an escalation of open conflict between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and Islamist militias from western Libya is now very likely, and could potentially spill over into a broader tribal/regional conflict involving the LNA and the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG).

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As militias nominally aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA) made highly impressive gains against ISIS in Sirte last week, and a degree of euphoria has gripped international actors and some GNA supporters, these gains have not automatically led to authentic political unity among Libya’s major anti-ISIS factions. To the contrary, prospects for unity and strengthened political legitimacy for the GNA are lower, and the likelihood of renewed civil conflict higher, due to three factors identified this week.

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The Government of National Accord’s (GNA) establishment of the Adjabiya-Sirte operations room to coordinate the anti-ISIS campaign from the east, and de-facto reinstatement of Ibrahim Jadhran as head of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) in the central region, in tandem with the PFG attack on ISIS in Libya’s oil crescent, signals that a deal has been made between the GNA and local actors in the oil crescent that circumvents Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). While this dynamic effectively puts the GNA in a firm position to negotiate workable, yet temporary, alliances with rival militias to focus on the fight against ISIS, it threatens to expose the GNA to hijacking by groups that are not under its direct control, and who have no other overlapping interests than the defeat of ISIS in Sirte.

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