Control of Libya requires securing its export ports, as shown below:
Production prior to 2011 was 1,650,000 barrels of oil per day. In 2016, it was 500,000 barrels per day. There is an enormous wealth created by the export of oil. With 46 billion barrels of oil, these assets will create income for decades to come.
In late 2016, it looked like the beginnings of a re-unified Libya could become a reality, under the UN Peace Accords. In concept the accords were to create a new government, the GNA government, based on the Tobruk and Tripoli based governments. However, this could only become a reality if the Tobruk government, principally Khalfa Haftar, believed he could not conquer the rest of Libya, and was content with sharing power with the GNA government in Tripoli. So, peace depends on Haftar diminished capacity to extend his reach to the west, making peace the best option.
Saudi Arabia swung open its doors to Donald Trump knowing exactly what would appeal to him- deals for more goods and services. His ego and naivete were on full display, as he took credit for the blockade of Qatar as an extension of this anti-terrorist policies in his tweets. It is now spilling over to the Libyan conflict. The Chairman of the Libyan National Oil Company, in an OpEd article in the New York Times, wrote:
The latest incident was triggered by the recent, sudden souring of relations between Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain on the other. One of the several groups that purport to be Libya’s rightful government is using that dispute as a pretext to seize control of the country’s oil and gas exports: It has accused the National Oil Corporation, the internationally recognized body responsible for managing these resources, of working in the service of Qatar by diverting oil revenues to it via an N.O.C. customer. I am the N.O.C.’s chairman, and these allegations are false. But they shine a bright light on Libya’s current tragedy. Since the revolution of 2011, the country’s oil and gas resources have been held hostage to both its fractious politics and power struggles in the Middle East.
It is not explicitly stated, but this is a reference to the Tobruk based government. The Chairman goes on to suggest Libya’s National Oil Company be given more authority to protect it from being involved in the political infighting.
The Tobruk government did not have complete control of Benghazi. The UAE, in violation of the UN Peace Accords, has supplied Haftar with military equipment to defeat Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB). One can see why the UAE would want to shut down Al Jazeera, as they seem to be the only ones with correspondents on the ground to observe the fighting in Benghazi. According to the article (see links below):
The UN’s Libya Sanctions Committee report, released on Friday [23-Jun-17} , reveals the UAE has supplied attack helicopters and other military aircraft to Haftar’s forces. “The United Arab Emirates have been providing both material support and direct support to LNA, which have significantly increased the air support available to LNA,” said the report by a UN panel of experts. The report provides rare insight into foreign funding of armed groups in Libya, which many say has exacerbated the conflict.
The US and the EU countries have pledged support to eventual re-unification through the UN efforts. The selection of an impartial and highly experienced UN Special Envoy to Libya, is typically done through discussions among representatives of the Security Council, and then announced by the Secretary General, after everyone is in agreement. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, rejected the selection of special envoy based on nationality, as she stated on February 11, 2017:
“For too long the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley said.
It was a very strange and antagonistic statement. But, Trump was scheduled to meet with Israel PM Netanyahu at the White House on the following day. The Secretary-General quickly responded, stating they were interested in the best negotiator for the conflict, irrespective of their country, and neither the Israels nor the Palestinians had any participation in the talks. Fortunately, another very qualified special envoy has been selected. It seemed like Washington politics had meddled in what should have been a routine appointment. That’s just my opinion.
If the conflict in Libya is seen, not just as the Tobruk-based east government, verses GNA/GNC west side government, but as a larger conflict of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and others verses Qatar, Iran, Turkey and Russia, where does this leave the US and our allies?
— Human Suffering
The administrative breakdown in Libya has created enormous human suffering. During Gaddafi’s era, immigrants received work visas as applied by their sponsors, with set wages and approved by the government. This system has broken down, and employers are now taking advantage of workers, charging them for expenses, equal to their wages.
Also, migrants are being lured across the Libyan sounthern boundary with the false promise of being able to migrate to Europe, only to be sold as slaves or ransomed. See BBC link.
— The Path Forward
The only path forward is re-unification through UN Negotiations. On the Tobruk side, Chief of the Army, Haftar must not be allowed to purchase arms and escalate the war. The conflict in Libya will only become worse if the US turns a blind eye towards the arming of the Tobruk government by the Saudi supporters. Washington and the EU need to work jointly on the the massive refugee problem.
This is a rapidly developing story. To follow it, it is best to do a Google search on the news. The latest story to appear, is the release of Saif al-Islam Gadaffi and some discussion that he could play a some leadership role. I have very serious doubts. The areas under control by the various rival groups seems to change regularly. The New York Times, The Guardian and Al Jazeera seem to be the best sources of information.
New York Times: How to Save Libya From Itself? Protect Its Oil From Its Politics, Mustafa Sanalla, Chairman of the Libyan National Oil Company