Libya "Losing Control of Oil Fields to Jihadists"

After Gadhafi’s fall, Ghaithi found himself at the top of the country’s military leadership. But Libya’s Islamist current had a quarrel with the country’s new leadership. The Islamists saw that some were attempting to “secularize the state.” These differences resulted in Ghaithi’s dismissal from his post after Defense Minister Mohammad al-Barghouthi accused Ghaithi of trying to assassinate him. Ghaithi denied the charge.

Ghaithi’s announcement about the establishment of the Barqa province with its capital Benghazi came after a meeting of armed groups and political organizations that support Barqa seceding from the central authority in Tripoli. Ghaithi read the meeting’s final statement, which said there was an agreement to form a political office tasked with administering the territory and supervising the institutions. The statement also specified the powers of the president of the province and appointed Ibrahim Saeed Jizran as that president.

Although some Arab tribes in Libya’s eastern region announced that they reject secession and refused to participate in the meeting, observers warn that the conflict between the advocates of federalism and the central government may get worse because of the conflict over oil.

That was embodied on the ground through the establishment of armed groups that support the federal system and that control a number of oil installations as well as the oil export port. Moreover, an armed group contacted international oil companies with the intention to start selling Libyan oil on behalf of the new federation. A foreign oil company has confirmed being contacted by the Barqa federal spokesmen in order to sell oil shipments through the Sidra oil port in Ras Lanuf. The latter is under the control of groups that support Barqa becoming a federal province.

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