On April 19, the U.S. Treasury issued sanctions against Khalifa Ghweil, head of Libya’s Islamist-dominated government based in Tripoli. Ghweil is responsible for policies that “threaten the peace, security, or stability of Libya,” according to the Treasury Department. Around 70 members of the Tripoli government, known as the General National Congress, voted to cede power to the U.N.-backed unity government that arrived in Tripoli in March. But Ghweil has refused to recognize the new body’s authority. A rival government based in Tobruk, which split with the GNC in 2014, also has yet to endorse the new government. The following is a Treasury press release on the sanctions against Ghweil.

LibyaThe U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today sanctioned Khalifa Ghweil (Ghweil) pursuant to a new Executive Order (E.O.) “Blocking Property and Suspending Entry into the United States of Persons Contributing to the Situation in Libya,” which imposes sanctions against individuals or entities that, among other things, threaten the peace, security, or stability of Libya or obstruct or undermine the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).  As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of Ghweil that are within the jurisdiction of the United States or in the control of U.S. persons are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with him.  Today’s action also complements the European Union’s designation of Ghweil on April 1, 2016 for undermining the political transition in Libya. 

“Treasury is committed to using all tools at our disposal to support Libya's Government of National Accord, as it works to build a safer and more stable country for the Libyan people,” said Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  “The people of Libya have long endured the consequences of violence and instability, and we will oppose attempts to undermine or destabilize the Government of National Accord at this critical time.”

Ghweil purports to be the Prime Minister and Defense Minister of the “National Salvation Government,” which is aligned with the unrecognized Libyan General National Congress, and he has actively worked to obstruct the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement establishing the GNA.  OFAC designated Ghweil today for being responsible for, or complicit in, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Libya, including through the supply of arms and related materiel, and for being complicit in actions or policies that obstruct, undermine, delay, impede, or pose a significant risk of obstructing, undermining, delaying, or impeding, the adoption of or political transition to the GNA or a successor government.

In early January 2016, Ghweil’s Ministry of Defense urged all of its affiliates not to listen to any orders from the GNA, which the Ministry called an illegal body and stated that all who contradicted the decision of the Ministry would be punished.  

In mid-January 2016, Ghweil purported to order the arrest of members of the security team appointed by GNA Prime Minister Fayez Serraj.  In late January 2016, Ghweil, in his purported role as Prime Minister of the “National Salvation Government,” issued a general mobilization statement that included restrictions on the movements of diplomats and other foreigners. 

In late March 2016, Ghweil’s office issued a statement, which was posted on the Tripoli National Salvation Government website, asserting that security forces inside and outside the capital should reject all attempts to allow the entry of any government with which Libyans did not agree and to arrest anyone who tries to destabilize the capital or any other Libyan city.  Ghweil also announced his rejection of allowing GNA Prime Minister Serraj’s government entry into Tripoli and issued a statement in which he declared a state of emergency in the country.

Click here for more information on the new sanctions

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