Monday, May 23, 2016

Haftar gains control of 14 oil fields in Libya

According to a report in the Libya Herald, the minister of defence in the Government of National Accord (GNA), Mahdi Barghathi, flew to Tripoli from Ras Lanuf where he just finished talks with Ibrahim Jodhran, head of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG).

The Herald reports:
He flew into Mitiga from Ras Lanuf where yesterday he had further talks with Ibrahim Jadhran, the commander of the Petroleum Facilities’ Guards (PFG) in the central region. The meeting coincided with reports that the Libyan National Army, under the control of Khalifa Hafter, has now taken control of more than a dozen oil fields in the Sirte basin that before the so-called Islamic State started raiding them had been secured by the PFG.The Libya Observer earlier reported that Haftar had seized 14 oil fields in the Mirada and Zilla basins.
Jadhran supports the GNA and is opposed to Haftar, who in turn opposes Jadhran and Barghathi, even though he is or was part of Operation Dignity. The Haftar-led military operation started in May 2014 and is intended to clear Libya of Islamists who are his enemies, including those in Misrata who are fighting the Islamic State. GNA ministers are heading to Tripoli to start working from there. Apparently Barghathi left Benghazi and Ras Lanuf without "permission from Haftar." Haftar has twice kept prime minister of the HoR, Al-Thinni, from flying out of Libya.
When Barghathi left Benghazi he went to Sidra to inspect PFG forces. Jhadran welcomed him and along with his forces pledged loyalty to Barghatti. Barghatti warned that the battle against the Islamic State could turn into a civil war. If the PFG support the GNA and Barghatti, this will mean that Haftar has yet to secure the three oil ports in the crescent that are guarded by the PFG. Some analysts report that the LNA under Haftar will not attack Sirte until it has secured the oil fields. No doubt Haftar would also like to secure the oil ports guarded by the PFG. There have been reports that Jodhran had been replaced by the Al-Thinni government, but if this report is true it has not taken effect. The situation is confusing in that there are conflicting reports. Not long ago a report was issued that an agreement had been struck between the PFG and the LNA but this account contradicts other reports such as the one just discussed. The LNA is in the area of the ports but so far there is no sign of any clashes between the LNA and the PFG. There are no clashes with the Islamic State either which is only a few miles to the west. Haftar is busy attacking the Shura Council fighters in Derna who had been instrumental in driving IS from Derna. He may wait until he has defeated them and secured more oil ports before attacking the IS, unless the Misrata militia whom he considers his enemies gain too much ground. Haftar no doubt wants the HoR government to control as much territory as it can.


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