by WorldTribune Staff, September 14, 2016
An offensive into Libya’s “oil crescent” by Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has been condemned by the U.S. and its main European allies.
“The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States condemn this weekend’s attacks on Zueitina, Ras Lanuf, Es Sider and Brega oil terminals in Libya,” they said, in a statement.
Haftar, a former resident of Vienna, Va. who reportedly receives considerable support from foreign backers, particularly the UAE and Egypt, is unhappy with the lineup of the GNA. Some analysts say that his foreign backing has made him less willing to compromise on a unity government.
“Basically he doesn’t want to have any rivals in the east and he considers everyone, even loosely associated with political Islam, as terrorists,” Mattia Toaldo, a senior policy fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Middle East Eye. “Much like his Egyptian patrons.”
In their statement, the U.S. and its allies insisted Libya’s oil belongs to its people, and should be administered by the Tripoli-based GNA.
Haftar’s forces, based in the country’s east, over the past weekend took control of the key oil exporting towns from Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
“We call for all military forces that have moved into the oil crescent to withdraw immediately, without preconditions,” the world powers said, reiterating their support for the GNA and demanding an “immediate ceasefire.”
The LNA’s offensive to seize the oil ports is the first time Haftar’s forces have come into direct conflict with GNA forces since the unity government’s formation in March.
The prospect of Haftar obtaining a stranglehold on Libya’s main export has raised renewed fears of a permanent east-west split or civil war.