Libya Faces Water Crisis as Gunmen Control Man-Made River Flow, Demand Prisoner Release

24 Oct 2017 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
WARRENTON VA, United States

Libya is balanced on the edge of a water crisis as an armed group of Gadhafi-ist rebels remain in control of the main control room of the southern water pipeline system of the country’s Great Man-Made River.

The armed group has also threatened to explode gas pipelines and infrastructure.

Video footage has emerged which shows the armed, led by Khalifa Ehneish, commander of the country’s self-styled “Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya” standing inside the water system’s main control room issuing demands for the country's Special Deterrence Force (SDF) to release his brother, Al-Mabruk Ehneish.

Al-Mabruk Ehneish is accused of commanding an armed group of 120 members, and leading "a resistance movement called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya led by some supporters of the former (Muammar Gaddafi) regime," with the aim of "destabilizing the security of the country and changing the system of governance," according to the Special Deterrent Force.

The SDF said 21 October that they had stopped a plan to take control of Tripoli by “armed groups of the supporters of the former regime and mercenaries from Sudan's Justice and Equality Movement”, and detained Al-Mabruk Ehneish and some Sudanese nationals.

The administration of the Man-Made River Hasawna system reported 21 October that a fire broke in one of the power units that feeds 24 water. It is reported that the group had initially granted the SDF 72 hours to release Al-Mabruk Ehneish, or else they would “burn” the water system in southern Libya although it cannot yet be confirmed whether the fire was an accident or a manifestation of the threatened sabotage.

It is reported that the group has followed through, 22 October, on a further threat to cut off the road from the south-western oasis city of Sebha to Tripoli although the route has subsequently reopened to traffic.

The $33 billion USD water system, built by then Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi to tap into a vast underground aquifer in the Sahara desert to sustain the arid country, was hailed as an engineering masterpiece when it was completed in the 1990s after more than a decade of construction. It supplies western and eastern Libya with fresh water from the south.

The water comes from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, the largest in the world, covering 1 million square kilometers 488-762 meters under the Sahara Desert. The water is carried from the desert through a network of gigantic concrete tunnels over 5,000 kilometers long and buried 3-4 meters under the sand and supplies around three-quarters of the municipal water supply of Tripoli.