Libyan Petroleum Facilities Guards said to reach agreement with Libyan National Army

Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) head Ibrahim Jadhran has apparently agreed to support the Libyan National Army (LNA) under commander-in-chief Khalifa Haftar in its plan to liberate Sirte from the Islamic State, according to the Libya Herald.

This decision follows negotiations in the oil export port of Ras Lanuf with the commander of the Saiqa Special Forces, Wanis Bukhamada. The LNA forces had just arrived earlier in the day in Ras Lanuf. The town is only 60 kilometers from Bin Jawad, the eastern limit of control of the Islamic State. There are also said to be a number of LNA aircraft at the Ras Lanuf airport. The PFG will be put at the disposal of the LNA under the agreement.
There is a two-pronged operation from the south and the east. LNA-allied forces are now in Zillah about 140 kilometers to the south of Ras Lanuf. There were clashes near Zilla between Islamist militia associated with Misrata and rebels from Sudan loyal to Haftar. The objective of Haftar and his allies may be to secure nearby oil fields.
Jadhran has been a bitter foe of Haftar and many had feared that there would be battles between the PFG and the LNA for control of the oil fields. Apparently Bukhamada who is highly regarded was specifically sent to head off such a battle. He earlier had talks with Salah Al-Ataiwish head of the Magharba tribe to which he belongs. Al-Ataiwish favors the LNA offensive against Sirte adding pressure on Jadrhan to come to terms. A Magharba delegation in Benghazi also had talks today with boycotting Presidential Council member Ali Gatrani in which they affirmed their support of the LNA. Gatrani is a Haftar loyalist.
The position of Jadhran is not clear. He had recently been fired by the Al-Thinni HoR government and also Haftar, but he and the PFG ignored the order. Jadhran supported the GNA and the Presidency Council led by PM Faiez Serraj. He also supported the Tripoli-based National Oil Company. Perhaps he has changed his position and reconciled with the HoR. Perhaps the LNA has agreed that he remain as head of the PFG as long as he does not support the GNA and its NOC. The Herald article does not clarify these aspects of the situation.
The PC had demanded that any attack on the Islamic State be under the auspices of a unified command set out by them as commander in chief of the army as described in this tweet:Mohamed Eljarh
‏@Eljarh #Libya PC takes 1st decision as Commander in Chief of Armed Forces to form Joint Ops Room for #Sirte western front
The description of the PC as "Commander in Chief of Armed Forces" as set out in the Libya Political Agreement (LPA) in section 8 of the additional provisions will infuriate members of the HoR and Haftar loyalists. Even those members of the HoR who support the GNA wanted the section deleted. Now it is activated there will be even more conflict between the HoR and the GNA. Kobler has not explained how he hopes to get the HoR to vote confidence in the GNA. Until he gets the vote of confidence, there is no legislature of the GNA since the HoR is its legislature. There was to be a meeting of the HoR in Ghadames on Wednesday but it appears not to have taken place. Recent developments are creating even more conflict between the GNA and the HoR with no sign of any reconciliation.
The decision of the PFG will be a blow to the Presidency Council. The Misratan forces have said they will obey the PC order. They were planning a separate assault to liberate Sirte. While they paused the Islamic State launched its own offensive towards Misrata and the South driving back Misrata militia. There is supposed to be a counter-offensive today. So far there have not been clashes between the LNA and the Islamic State in the areas west of Sirte controlled by the Islamic State but that should happen soon. Haftar may have been anxious to control the oil ports guarded by the PFG before venturing further to the west.


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