Libya "Losing Control of Oil Fields to Jihadists"

By Al-Monitor, translated from El-Khabar (Algeria). Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Libya Business News.

The resignation of Libya’s Interior Minister Col. Mohammad al-Sheikh on Aug.18 after less than two months in office revealed the size of the political turmoil in Libya.

A group calling itself the Barqa Youth Movement has declared the eastern area to be an autonomous federal province within the framework of the Libyan state. The movement’s statement said that Islamic Sharia “is the source of legislation in the province,” declared the appointment of a temporary president for the province, and declared the establishment of a defense force that would protect the province and maintain security.

It is not the first time that the establishment of the Barqa province with its capital Benghazi has been announced since the overthrow of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Political activist, former detainee and member of the National Transitional Council, Ahmed Zubair al-Sanusi, had already announced the secession of the eastern region. But the move failed when it triggered demonstrations rejecting it.

However, the recent announcement by the Barqa Youth Movement is different because of the figures who stand behind it. Most of those figures are leaders of armed groups that have demonstrated their ability to control the ground. The figures include Al-Saddiq al-Ghaithi, the former proxy assistant secretary to the Libyan defense minister who was in charge of securing the country’s borders and its oil installations.

Al-Saddiq al-Ghaithi … from the Mujahideen Brigades … to protect the oil installations?

Those in Libya who know Ghaithi assert that he used to be an activist in the Islamic jihadist movement years ago and that he was imprisoned by the former regime. He was also a close associate to Abdul Hakim Belhadj, a leader in the Mujahideen Brigades, which belong to the Islamic Fighting Group.

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