The United States is considering imposing sanctions on Libya’s combative factions to try to prevent a proxy conflict fuelled by regional powers from erupting into full-blown civil war and force militant leaders to negotiate, US officials said.
Three years after Muammar Gaddafi’s downfall, outside intervention has exacerbated the fighting, with Qatar and, to some degree, Turkey supporting Islamist-linked forces and Egypt and the United Arab Emirates backing more secular rivals.
US sanctions would be separate from potential United Nations sanctions that aim to pressure Libyan factions and militias to take part in UN-backed political negotiations to be led by UN envoy Bernardino Leon.
The possibility of using UN sanctions to help bring about political talks has been aired publicly. The consideration of separate US sanctions has not been previously disclosed.
US officials declined to say who they might target with sanctions or why they felt it necessary to look at US penalties separate from the United Nations. Nor would they detail what sanctions they would propose.
If applied, the United Nations sanctions would target individuals or groups involved in the fighting, rather than their foreign backers, and would freeze their assets as well as impose travel bans.
Libya is in chaos with two rival governments and parliaments struggling for power and control of its oil wealth.