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Libya Tries Again To End The Civil War And Resume Steady Oil Production

The City of Tripoli, the Capital of Libya.

There was a recent rebound in international oil prices. This was partially attributed to another shutdown at the largest oilfield in Libya. The Sharara was forced off line, by a group that blocked a pipeline linking it to an oil terminal. The field had only just returned to production, after a week-long stoppage ending in early April.

It seemed to be another indication that the supply of oil from Libya, can no longer be relied on for a regular flow of crude. The apparent lack of a viable political solution, started another year of chaos for a country fractured by civil war.

Demonstrations in Bayda, Libya in July 2011.

Libyan oil production has been sporadic, but had averaged 700,000 barrels per day (bpd). The interruption of flow of oil from the Sharara field, reduces this output by 220,000 bpd. Militants and protesters have repeatedly, shut down the pipelines that pumps oil from the area.

Total oil produced for the country was 683,000 bpd in February and only 622,000 bpd in March. The decline is directly attributable to the constant struggle, for control over this strategic resource.

Muammar Gaddafi was the “leader of the revolution” until his overthrow in 2011

The present disintegration, is a direct result in the violent overthrow of the Gaddafi government which occurred in 2011. Rebels supported by the forces of NATO (North American Treat Organization) were finally able to topple the authoritarian leader, in the civil war that broke out that year.

Muammar Gaddafi had been the de facto leader of Libya, since the coup d’etat against King Idris I in 1969. He and his fellow military officers, overthrew the monarchy in a nonviolent revolution.

After the death of President Gaddafi, Libya was plunged into chaos with militias taking over various parts of the country. In addition, there was the establishment of two rival governments and parliaments.

Even former United States President Barack Obama, has finally acknowledged that the worse mistake of his presidency, was a lack of planning for the what would happen following the overthrown of the longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Tripoli’s central business district, where many Libyan and international companies have offices.

Obama still wants to place most of the blame on former United Kingdom Prime Minister, David Cameron and other European Union leaders for the ongoing chaos.

Libya currently has three different political centers of power.

There is the United Nations (UN) backed Presidential Council based in the capital of Tripoli. It is headed by Fayaz al-Sarraj. The Council presides over the Government of National Accord (GNA).

The second rival government also based in Tripoli, is the Government of National Salvation, which controls what is left of the General National Congress (GNS). It was last elected in 2012. It is headed by Prime Minister Khalifa Ghwell.

City of Tobruk, Libya

The GNS has failed to gain control over relevant government institutions, that would be necessary in running Libya.

The third faction comprises the various authorities in the east of the country, centered around Tobruk.

This group is comprised of The House of Representatives led by Ageela Saleh, which has up to this point, refused to approve a national accord with officials in Tripoli. He is insisting on changes to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA).

General Haftar along with Saleh control this part of Libya. The general has been increasing his participation in the government, since his troops were able to secure a number of victories against Islamic militants. He has also been able to seize a number of oil terminals in the north of the country, along the coast.

Libya on a World Map.

Saleh has been the president of the House of Representatives since August of 2014. Since he has been blamed for blocking political progress, his government has been subject to sanctions from both the European Union and the United States.

The political deadlock between the factions, has led to a military standoff between forces in the east and the west.

In addition, parts of Libya are outside any governmental control. These fall under the influence of various rebel groups, tribal militias and Islamist radicals.

In March of this year, the embattled Prime Minister Fayaz al-Sarraj asked the UN, the European Union and the League of Arab States, to intervene and prevent renewed violence in the civil war.

Fayez al-Sarraj
Prime Minister of Libya

This week the warring factions are attempting to reach an agreement to end years of fighting. In a deal negotiated by Italy, another effort will be made to reunify,what has practically become a failed state.

The House of Representatives and the head of state council Abdulrahman Sewehli, both announced an agreement has finally been made.

The former had refused to recognize the authority of the government in Tripoli, since its inception in 2015. This has in turn has led to a civil war and ongoing chaos.

Aguila Saleh Issa

A peace agreement however fragile, will have a major impact on the last major migrant route to Europe. Libya is the main launching point for migrants and refugees coming not only from Africa, but from other regions as well.

The numbers of arrivals is surging once again. Some 27,000 have arrived in Italy, as of early April alone. It is 24% more than the same period for last year.

Italy is taking a harder line on migrants, because a greater share of the arrivals are no longer moving further north. Security at the border with Austria, France and Switzerland is forcing more newcomers to remain in Italy.

General Khalifa Haftar

This is reflected in the number of Italian asylum applications, that have risen precipitously from 83,530 in 2015 to 122,960 in 2016.

As part of the peace plan, Italy has agreed to equip and train Libyans to stem the flow of migrants. The idea is to apprehend the would be emigrants, before they take to the high seas. This will finally block access for the desperate and disadvantaged, that have been streaming into Europe since 2014.

Libya is a predominantly desert country. Up to 90% of the land area is covered in desert.

There is no doubt if the present peace plan is put into place, thousands of migrants will become trapped in Libya, where the rule of law has all but vanished.

The new agreement will however, provide the first step in piecing the country back together again. After nearly seven years of economic disorder and political disunity, Libya has another opportunity to unite the various factions of the nation.

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