The Battle for Libya’s Southern Frontier

The battle for Libya’s southern frontier

Gunmen have made a fortune there as mercenaries, smugglers and robbers

The internecine fighting in Libya is often reduced to east versus west: Khalifa Haftar, the warlord who controls the former, against a United Nations-backed government in the latter.

But this year’s most important fighting is some 600km south of the capital, Tripoli. Last month General Haftar [Hiftar] sent his Libyan National Army (LNA) to pacify Fezzan, a vast expanse of desert plagued by ethnic and tribal feuds. It has already taken the town of Sabha, home to perhaps one-fifth of the area’s population. Now it is fighting for a bigger prize 200km to the south-west: the Sharara oilfield.

Before going offline in December it pumped 315,000 barrels per day (b/d). That was about a third of the country’s output, which had been at a five-year high. Then the tribesmen tasked with guarding the facility took it over to demand better pay.

The closure mothballed the nearby “Elephant” [El Feel, El Fil] oilfield, which relies on Sharara for electricity. That took another 73,000 b/d out of production.

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(Source: The Economist)

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