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article imageOp-Ed: Six countries issue statement on Haftar's seizure of Libyan ports

By Ken Hanly     Sep 12, 2016 in Politics
The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. issued a joint statement condemning the seizure of the four oil ports, Zuwetina, Ras Lanuf, Es Sidra, and Brega by forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA).
The LNA are the armed forces of PM Al-Thinni's House of Representatives (HoR) government. Many parts of the statement echo those found in the statement of Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) that I discussed in a recent article.
The six-country statement is like that of Kobler in demanding an immediate ceasefire and for the parties to refrain from any further hostilities. This would preclude either GNA forces or those of the PFG from a counter-attack to retake the ports. There have been tweets claiming a counter-attack is already underway but these have not been confirmed and some claim even that they are fake. We will see. There is division among the PC but at least one statement asked that the defense minister should give orders to retake the ports. There appear to be a number of conflicting statements. In any event it seems a bit odd to rule out taking back the ports as they were removed from the control of the GNA or at least the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) who recognize the GNA and had an agreement with the GNA..
The statement does call on all military forces that had moved into the oil crescent area to withdraw immediately without preconditions. However, no consequences are spelled out as to what will happen if the demand is not met. As with the Kobler statement, the six cannot bring themselves to write the name of Khalifa Haftar as being responsible for the seizure. They cannot for some reason talk of the Petroleum Facilities Guard either.
As with the Kobler statement, the six stress that the Presidency Council is the sole steward of the oil resources. Of course, both sides say that the oil belongs to the Libyan people. The statement goes on: "Oil infrastructure, production, and export must remain under the exclusive control of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) acting under the GNA’s authority." Haftar will find it difficult if not impossible to export oil through the eastern-based National Oil Company. However, he can use his possession of the ports as a lever for bargaining with the GNA if he wishes to do so.
The six nations urge the creation of a unified capable national security force under GNA authority and peaceful cooperation among Libya's armed forces which should be unified into one professional military force. However, it is not clear how this can be done and Haftar is opposed to unifying with militias associated with the GNA many of whom he considers his enemies.
The statement mentions UN Security Council Resolution 2259: which concerns measures against illegal oil exports and activities that could damage the NOC among other institutions. Section 10 of the resolution is particularly relevant to the situation: 10. Confirms that those individuals and entities engaging in or providing support for acts that threaten the peace, stability or security of Libya, or that obstruct or undermine the successful completion of the political transition to a stable, secure and prosperous Libya under a Government of National Accord, must be held strictly accountable, and in this regard, recalls the travel ban and asset freeze measures reaffirmed in paragraph 11 of resolution 2213.
The statement says that the six countries are intent on enforcing the resolution including the provisions of section 10. Surely Haftar's actions threaten the peace security and stability of LIbya and undermine the successful completion of the political transition. Individuals such as Haftar must be held strictly accountable and subject to travel bans and asset freezes. Yet Haftar's name is not even mentioned. The six countries ignore their own obligations as set forth in the resolution they vow to uphold.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Khalifa Haftar, Libyan oil crescent, Libyan Government of National Accord
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