Op-Ed: Libyan government planes bomb own oil company's tanker

Posted Jan 6, 2015 by Ken Hanly
The Libyan Air Force bombed an oil tanker operated by Greece but leased by the Libyan National Oil Company(NOC) killing two members of the crew.
UN envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon addresses a press conference in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Sept...
UN envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon addresses a press conference in the Libyan capital Tripoli on September 11, 2014
Mahmud Turkia, AFP/File
A spokesperson for the Libyan military said that the movements of the ship in the port of Derna aroused suspicions. Derna is governed by radical Islamists.The NOC claimed that the ship had been delivering fuel to industrial facilities and that authorities had been kept informed of this. However, military authorities said that the ship had been asked to stop twice but refused to do so.
Colonel Ahmed Mesmari said the tanker was targeted because it had failed to submit to an inspection before entering the port. He claims the vessel was to dock at a power plant but instead took a different route that entered a "military zone". This is not the first time that the Libyan military has attacked Derna. Last year it bombed the city several times targeting militant groups there. When Gadaffi did this sort of thing he was said to be bombing his own people and western countries were quick to denounce the actions and even mounted an international campaign to create a no-fly zone supposedly to protect civilians but actually intended to degrade Gadaffi's armed forces and eventually help the rebels produce regime change.
Don't expect this to happen this time around. The internationally recognized government in Tobruk has bombed Tripoli numerous times including the one functioning airport. CIA-linked General Khalifa Haftar whose Operation Dignity involved attacking and burning the parliament buildings, produced the backlash that now sees a rival government based in Tripoli ruling much of the country.
Now he is heading the attack on the Tripoli government with the blessing of the Tobruk government. The prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni was also prime minister of the parliament during the Operation Dignity attack on the former parliament. He then called the action illegal and a warrant was put out for Haftar's arrest. Now Haftar has the green light from this same Al-Thinni to liberate Benghazi and Tripoli. The UN has called for the attacks and bombings to stop but to no avail. Don't expect western countries to do anything except perhaps intervene on the side of the Tobruk government as France would like to do and Egypt and the UAE are already doing.
On November 6th, the Libyan Supreme Court declared that the June elections for the House of Representatives (HoR) were unconstitutional and that the HoR parliament in Tobruk should be dissolved. The Tobruk government immediately rejected the decision. This is in contrast to the reaction to the Supreme Court decision when the Islamist supported Prime Minister for the Libyan Parliament, Ahmed Maiteg, was declared to have been illegally elected. This decision left Al Thinni as the recognized prime minister of Libya. The defeated Islamist candidate accepted the decision. Al Thinni and his government welcomed that decision.
The UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, has for some time been attempting to gather the conflicting parties together to try to find a political solution to the crisis.There was to be a dialogue originally set for January 6th somewhere outside of Libya that would seek a peaceful solution to the conflict but now that dialogue has been postponed indefinitely: The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Sunday indefinitely postponed the conference of the Libyan dialogue among the country's political parties, which was set to be held on Jan. 5, according to a Libyan parliament member.
Expect the internationally-recognized Libyan government in Tobruk to continue to bomb its own people with at most a few bleats of disapproval from the UN and perhaps even from some western countries. The drumbeat stressing the narrative of Libya as a danger to the whole region because of the presence of radical Islamists in the country will increase in volume. This narrative fits in perfectly with General Khalifa's claim that his opponents are Islamic terrorists. We have heard that refrain once before from one Colonel Gadaffi:Muammar Gaddafi's insistent claim that al-Qaida is behind the Libyan uprising – made in all his public appearances since the crisis began – has been dismissed at home and abroad as propaganda.
But Gaddafi's preoccupation with the jihadi group is genuine and reflects years of repression and counter-terrorist co-operation, which has enhanced his value to the US and other western governments.
Of course, there is no denying there are radical Islamists in Libya in fact some of the same ones who were there when Gadaffi ruled. However now as then the opponents of the Libyan government are of many different political stripes. What they all have in common is opposition to the recognized government. The only difference this time around is that most in the west and in the Arab world would like to see the Tobruk government stay in power rather than support regime change. What could be better than a government with a CIA-linked general, Khalifa Haftar, being head of a campaign that he claims will rid Libya of Islamist terrorists?