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News, February 2019
30 Libyans Killed, 111 Injured in Murzuk Air Strike and Clashes, Haftar's Forces Gain Control of Al-Sharara Oil Field
February 10, 2019
23 killed over 91 injured in recent southern region clashes, Murzuk Hospital confirms
The Libya Observer, February 10, 2019 - Written by: SafaAlharathy
A source at Murzuk General Hospital confirmed Saturday that the fresh clashes in the south have claimed the lives of 23 people in addition to 91 others injured; 14 of them were taken for treatment to Tripoli, clarifying that the hospital did not receive any new cases since Friday.
The source underlined that the hospital did not receive any support from the Ministry of Health, noting that patients requiring surgical intervention have lost their lives because of the lack of means and doctors.
"The only assistance received was from the Red Cross and the World Health Organization," the source added.
Airstrike kills seven Tabu tribesmen in Murzuk town
Libyan Express, February 04, 2019 - Written By: AbdullahBenIbrahim
Seven Tabu tribe members were killed and more than 20 others wounded in an airstrike conducted by Dignity Operation air force on the southern town of Murzuk on Sunday.
Sources from the town said the airstrike targeted a group of civilians who were protesting the presence of warlord Khalifa Haftar’s armed groups in their town.
The airstrike came as ground fighters of Dignity Operation prepare for a massive offensive on the town.
Tabu tribe accuses the warlord of ethnic cleansing and discrimination against its members in the south.
A Tabu activist said Haftar’s armed groups are backed by Sudanese rebel fighters in their offensive in the south.
Tabu tribe has demanded the Presidential Council and the UN mission in Libya to intervene to stop what it described the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Tabu community.
Warlord Khalifa Haftar launched a military operation in mid-January to control the southern Libyan towns and cities under the slogan of "fighting terrorism and securing borders." However, politicians and analysts following the Libyan file considered his operation an attempt to extend his influence and put his hands on the country's oil resources in that region.
Residents of Murzuk protest against Dignity Operation acts
Libya Observer, February 03, 2019 - Written by: SafaAlharathy
Residents of Murzuk town, south of Libya, held a protest against what they called the "blood guard militia" of Dignity Operation in Ghadwa.
The protesters called to stop the "systematic ethnic cleansing" carried out by these militias, holding the leadership of the Dignity Operation the responsibility for the serious repercussions that this could have for the region, demanding the withdrawal of militias from Ghadwa.
Haftar’s forces gain control of Libya’s largest oil field
Libyan forces from the country's east claim they have taken control of Libya's largest oil field, as they battle rival forces loyal to the UN-recognised, Tripoli-based government.
The self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in fractured Libya's east, seized control of the Al-Sharara field aspart of an expansion of control over Libya's oil revenues.
In a statement, LNA spokesman Ahmed Mesmari says the move was taken in order to provide security to an area that was previously lawless.
He added that it was made in collaboration with local tribes, and grievances over salaries would be addressed.
While Mesmari claimed the installation was largely seized without violence, other local reports suggest five people were killed and 16 injured in the fighting.
The Al-Sharara field has been closed by the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) since December, after it was seized by local tribes demanding the Tripoli government did more to support the area and lift it out of poverty.
Haftar forces, which already control of large portions of Libyan oil including the “oil crescent” in the north, moved south last month in what was billed as an operation to clear out terrorists and militias.
The southward move was assisted on Sunday by French air forces, whose warplanes reportedly bombed 40 rebel pickup trucks as they crossed into northern Chad from Libya while allegedly fleeing the LNA offensive.
France's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Haftar's operation had “eliminated terrorist targets” and was a way to “durably hinder the activities of human traffickers”.
In January the United Nations Mission Support in Libya (UNSMIL) expressed a “deep concern” about the armed forces mobilization and the potential consequences. It called upon all parties to “exercise maximum restraint” and prevent risk of growing imminent conflict.
The fighting could potentially impact UN plans to convene a national conference, possibly next month, aiming to lead to either parliamentary or presidential elections and a new constitution. A date and venue for the conference has yet to be established by the UN, which is still trying to win an agreement on the agenda of the meeting and who will be attending.
Haftar's forces strike El Feel oilfield, Libya's Presidential Council condemns it as "terrorist act"
February 09, 2019, By: AbdulkaderAssad
The self-styled army's Air Force - under Khalifa Haftar's command - has carried out an airstrike on El Feel oilfield in southwestern Libya, hitting the runway as a Libyan Airlines airplane was preparing to transport sick and wounded people for treatment in Tripoli.
According to sources from the scene, no casualties were reported and the strike hit the runway of El Feel oilfield.
The attack on a civilian plane was rendered by the Presidential Council (PC) as a terrorist act that is punishable by Libyan and international laws.
"We condemn in the strongest terms this attack by the General Command of eastern Libya on Libyan civilians and we consider it a terrorist act and a crime against humanity." The PC said in a statement Saturday, following the attack.
The PC also said that it had instructed the Foreign Ministry to document the attack and present it to the United Nations Security Council.
"Those responsible for this attack are subject to punishment by law and shall be held accountable. This is an attempt to deprive Libyans of their oil resources and to drag Libya backward into chaos and war." The statement reads.
Meanwhile, Haftar's Air Force said the strike came as an implementation of a Thursday no-fly zone order in southern Libya.
Haftar's warplanes also bombarded a civilian residential area in Murzuq town - mostly Tubu-inhabited - in southern Libya on Friday causing material damage only.
Last Monday, 7 people were killed and 22 were injured in an airstrike on Murzuq town by Haftar's warplanes.
Haftar's forces launched a military operation in southern Libya and had been using, according to sources, Sudanese Justice and Equality rebels as fighters in some southern districts. Many have been injured and some have been killed in different areas in the south since the start of the operation, with some describing it as "ethnic cleansing of Tubu tribespeople."
Rival Forces Clash For Control Over Libya’s Largest Oil Field
Oil Price, By Tsvetana Paraskova - Feb 08, 2019
Rival army forces—one loyal to the UN-backed Libyan government and another to a strongman from the east—are fighting for control over Libya’s largest oil field, Sharara, which has been shut in for two months after it was occupied by an armed group in early December.
Last month, forces loyal to eastern strongman General Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) said that they had started a military operation to secure oil sites and facilities in Libya’s south, where Sharara is located.
Then earlier this week, a unit of forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli was sent south to secure the Sharara oil field. A unit of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) of the Libyan government of national accord, supported by the United Nations, is heading to Sharara, Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV reported on Wednesday.
The Sharara oil field has the capacity to pump 340,000 bpd, but has been under force majeure since December 9, 2018 after armed militia and tribesmen seized control and demanded ransom to re-open it.
Two months later, Sharara remains offline, and Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC), which refuses to yield to ransom demands, said in December that “Oil production will now only restart at Sharara after alternative security arrangements are put in place.”
On Wednesday, officials said that General Haftar’s LNA had taken control over Sharara.
NOC issued a statement on Friday, urging “all parties to avoid an escalation of hostilities and actions that may endanger staff or infrastructure at Libya’s largest and most important field.”
“The Sharara field manager has communicated with all parties in the vicinity of the site, urging restraint,” NOC said, while the corporation’s chairman Mustafa Sanalla added:
“We urge all parties to avoid conflict and the politicization of key infrastructure. Any damage to the field could have serious consequences for the sector, the environment and the national economy. Obviously, normal operations cannot restart until security is restored.”
Tribesmen, Warlords, Government Troops Face Off at Libya’s Largest Oil Field
AFP/Abdullah DOMA, 8 Feb 2019
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) on Friday urged all factions to stand down from a military confrontation as tribesmen and government troops occupied different parts of El Sharara, the country’s largest oil field.
The NOC said operations at the oil field will remain suspended until the safety of its employees can be guaranteed.
“Worker safety remains our primary concern. We urge all parties to avoid conflict and the politicization of key infrastructure,” said NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla in a statement on Friday.
Several armed parties are camped in different parts of El Sharara, doing their level best to politicize this vital element of Libya’s infrastructure. Armed tribesmen rolled into the oilfield in December, angry at the government in Tripoli for not addressing their impoverished condition.
After former U.S. President Barack Obama’s disastrous intervention, Libyans found themselves with a choice of several governments to be angry at. Warlord Khalifa Haftar, the dominant force in eastern Libya and aspiring ruler of the entire country, soon made a play to add El Sharara to his impressive oil portfolio and claimed he was able to conquer the vast oil field without a fight. Local media reported that at least five people were killed while Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) swept peacefully into town.
The rival Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, the one recognized by the United Nations and the international community, denounced Haftar’s land grab and sent its own forces to El Sharara. The LNA claimed it has total control of the region and implied it would shoot down aircraft that attempt to land at the nearby airfield without permission, which would prevent the NOC from bringing in security forces.
On the other hand, an engineer working at El Sharara told Reuters the LNA actually controls only one pumping substation about 12 miles from the main field while armed tribesmen and demonstrators occupy the rest of the region.
The El Sharara field, which is normally good for about 315,000 barrels of oil per day, has been shut down ever since tribesmen and protesters arrived on December 8. Libyan oil production overall is still only a little over half of its peak production before Obama’s intervention. The NOC has ambitions to restore full national production by 2021, but that obviously will not be possible unless the country’s largest oilfield is secured.
The timing of the El Sharara crisis is most inconvenient because the GNA is struggling to hold municipal elections in March and national elections later this year in a bid to unify the country. The government was forced to admit this week that it cannot afford to hold elections in 69 of Libya’s 120 municipal councils.
Haftar’s troops reportedly exchanged fire with GNA forces on Thursday. If he can lock down El Sharara and add it to the “oil crescent” he already controls, he will have a stranglehold on the Libyan economy and a plausible shot at making elections irrelevant by seizing control of the entire country.
Egypt secretly backs Gaddafi’s son in Libya elections
Middle East Monitor, February 7, 2019 at 9:51 am
Egypt is reported to have led covert efforts to support Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in the upcoming presidential elections in Libya slated for later this year.
According to reports, Egyptian sovereign bodies are overseeing the moves in an attempt to strengthen Saif Al-Islam’s status in the country.
The Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies quoted sources as saying that Ahmad Qadhaf Al-Dam, Gaddafi’s uncle, has been holding meetings with Libyan tribal leaders in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, in order to mobilise their support for Saif Al-Islam based on understandings supported by the Egyptian General Intelligence Service.
According to the sources, the meetings have paved the way for the organisation of a tribal conference on 7 February in Ras Lanuf, east of Sirte, to discuss the Libyan elections.
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