09/15/2016, 17.15
Send to a friend

As anger mounts in Libya against the US and Europe, General Haftar benefits

Libya’s factions are increasingly restive. Oil terminals are in the hands of Tobruk government general. Street and social media protests attack foreign interference. Tribal leaders fully back Haftar in protecting Libya's assets.

Tripoli (AsiaNews) – Anger is growing among Libyan factions after the United States and five European countries condemned the Libyan National Army (LNA) for seizing the oil-producing crescent region.

Tobruk government-backed General Khalifa Haftar and his forces took over the oil terminals a few days ago. Demonstrations took place yesterday afternoon in Tobruk and Zintan against what protesters call foreign interference. In Zintan, militia leaders have threatened to close again access to the coastal road.

Anti-US protest also hit social media as activists and civilians call for dissent to spread to every corner of Libya. Sources in Benghazi told AsiaNews that many Libyans are angry at the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom for calling on the LNA to pull back from the oil crescent "without preconditions".

For General Khalifa Haftar this has been a boon, as he can use "Western condemnations to gain greater popularity" talking about "national dignity" and rejecting "any American and European interference."

Such a strategy worked well for former leader Muammar Gaddafi who claimed to be the guarantor of national independence and sovereignty against direct or indirect foreign occupation.

Haftar has imposed a ban on oil exports without coordination and permission of the Presidential Council.

Benghazi resident Omar El Ghani told AsiaNews that "ordinary people are very satisfied with Haftar’s overall behaviour and disappointed with the West".

The Libyan military leader also found full support "against foreign interference" among Cyrenaica’s tribal chiefs who criticised the United States and European countries for their condemnation.

In a statement released yesterday, tribal leaders pointed out that whilst respecting "the interests of Western countries in Libya, this does not mean that they have the right to dictate the occupation or the return [of oil wells]". In an official statement, they give their full support to "General Khalifa Haftar and the LNA" who have the right to "protect Libyan assets".

Cyrenaican tribal leaders ask why US and Europe, who are now ready to condemn, were silent when Libyan oil was robbed by Ajdabiya-based militia chief Ibrahim Jadhran as head of the Petroleum Defence Guards (PDG) who had declared the autonomy of the eastern part of the country.

Former Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril and Colonel Idris Madi also criticised Western interference. The latter hailed the takeover of the terminals as a major victory for all Libyans.

Meanwhile, demonstrations continued this morning following the false news that Italy was planning to send troops after Italian Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti said that Italy would set up a field hospital in Misrata to treat those wounded fighting against the Islamic State in Sirte. In addition to doctors and medical staff, soldiers would be deployed to protect the facility.

UN special envoy for Libya Martin Kobler warned of the danger that the country might collapse if oil exports are interrupted.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the UN Security Council on Libya, he also recognized the need to legitimise the General Haftar. "I have always said that Gen Haftar must have a role," said Mr Kobler. "I would like to sit together with him and discuss it."

For his part, Presidential Council Chairman Fayez al-Sarraj today called on all parties to “sit down urgently” in order "to resolve with courage and responsibility the crisis facing the country," noting that “the current situation in Libya is one of the most dangerous." (PB)

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”