The United States renews calls for a political solution in Libya as it slaps sanctions over smuggling out of the war-torn nation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, US, August 5, 2020.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, US, August 5, 2020. (Reuters)

The United States has imposed sanctions on three individuals and a Malta-based company, accusing them of acting as a network of smugglers and contributing to instability in Libya.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said it blacklisted Faysal al Wadi, accusing the Libyan national of having smuggled drugs and Libyan fuel into Malta.

Also blacklisted were two associates, Musbah Mohamad M Wadi and Nourddin Milood M Musbah, Malta-based company Alwefaq Ltd, and the vessel Maraya, which the Treasury said Wadi used in his alleged smuggling operations.

'Driver of conflict'

The Treasury said that "competition for control of smuggling routes, oil facilities, and transport nodes is a key driver of conflict in Libya and deprives the Libyan people of economic resources."

Thursday's action freezes any US assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.

"Faysal al Wadi and his associates have smuggled fuel from Libya and used Libya as a transit zone to smuggle illicit drugs," said Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich.

"The United States is committed to exposing illicit networks exploiting Libya’s resources for their own profit while hurting the Libyan people," he added.

Political solution

The United States renewed calls for a political solution in Libya.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the crisis in a call with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry of Egypt, a top backer of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar.

Pompeo and Shoukry discussed the "importance of supporting a UN-brokered ceasefire in Libya through political and economic talks," the State Department said.

Eastern Libya

The talks came as Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey, the crucial backer of Libya's UN-recognised government, visited Tripoli.

Cavusoglu said a ceasefire should see the Government of National Accord exerting control of areas held by warlord Haftar, who has suffered losses but still controls eastern Libya.

READ MORE: Turkey, Russia agree to push for Libya truce

Continuing conflict

Libya descended into chaos after the NATO-backed overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. 

Since 2014, it has been split, with an internationally recognised government controlling the capital, Tripoli, and the northwest, while Haftar in Benghazi rules the east. 

Haftar's violent bid to seize Tripoli has been backed by US allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as well as Russian mercenaries.

READ MORE: Libyan war: Where key international players stand

The White House on Tuesday called for a solution that includes a withdrawal of all foreign military personnel.

The United States recognises the Tripoli government but President Donald Trump caused confusion last year by praising Haftar.

READ MORE: Russia sent more equipment to Libyan front lines: US military

Source: TRTWorld and agencies