Saturday, September 17, 2016

First reactions to Haftar's seizure of four oil ports muted

The Petroleum Facilities Guards(PFG) had an agreement with the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) to open three oil crescent ports for export Es Sidra, Ras Lanuf and Zuwetina.

You would think that the seizure of at least two of the three ports, Es Sidra, and Ras Lanuf, by the Libyan National Army commanded by General Khalifa Haftar, would bring immediate condemnation. Haftar does not recognize the Tripoli-based NOC nor the GNA but the rival House of Representatives government of PM Al-Thinni. The agreement with the PFG is useless and the NOC must strike a deal with Haftar and the rival government. Whatever his past misdeeds, leader of the PFG Ibrahim Jodhran, recognized the GNA and cooperated with them. Haftar has never done so. The lack of quick response to the events is overwhelming. As I write this there still seems to be no response from the EU or the United States.
Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General issued a tweet that failed either to condemn the attacks or even mention General Haftar: "worried about reported fighting in the oil crescent will add to division and further restricting oil exports. oil belongs to ALL libyans." He is right to be worried since up to now Haftar has not recognized the GNA or its national oil company, NOC. The deal with the PFG is as good as dead. However, surely he should have condemned the unprovoked act which is obviously designed to give Haftar more power in negotiating with the GNA and UN. The UN shows that it fears to challenge Haftar. Is it any wonder that Haftar goes on increasing his power in the east and ignoring the UN and the GNA? He refuses even to talk to Kobler. Yet Kobler insists that Haftar must be "part of the solution": "The UN envoy has previously called for the formation of a united Libyan army that would include Haftar. "He must be part of a solution," said Kobler."
The international cheerleaders of the GNA, the EU the U.S. and others have so far been silent. Only the GNA itself has issued a statement on the official page of the media office. The statement notes that foreign mercenaries had taken part in the attacks along with Haftar's forces. The statement said the attack was a violation of Libyan sovereignty and urged all national forces to confront the attack. According to the statement an attack was launched on the port of Brega as well.
An LNA spokesperson has issued tweets that say the army will not interfere in the export of oil : "Col. Mismari: Army will not interfere in affairs, exports or make deals. Oil to be a strictly civilian domain #Libya" And another: LNA says #Libya Natl Oil Corp to take control over ports w/o army interference in operations. The problem is that the NOC involved is not specified nor is the government that is the civilian domain spoken of. Haftar and the LNA take the Al-Thinni government not the GNA as the legitimate government of the LNA.
All talk of the pressing need for the GNA to present a new cabinet to be voted on by the HoR is gone. The Libya Political Agreement appears to be forgotten. The pressing issue is to strike a deal with Haftar at a cost that is continually rising.

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