Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Libya Updates March 30 , 2014 -- Libya poised to retake oil ports from rebels in move that could split country Rebels blockading ports in the eastern province of Cyrenaica say they will form a breakaway state if government forces attack , security or lack thereof continue to plague forgotten Libya .....
Wafa gas supplies again disrupted
By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 29 March 2014:
Gas supplies form the Wafa field have again been disrupted five weeks after an earlier pipeline blockage ended.
“Yesterday morning we recorded a stoppage normally caused by tuning down a tap,” NOC spokesman Mohammed Al-Harari told the Libya Herald. “We don’t know who is behind the blockade, or why,” he said.
Other reports, however, claim that those responsible this time are ZIntani Petroleum Facilities Guards at the pipeline’s valve station No. 5 near Derj.
The same valve was turned off in mid-February by “young Zintanis” according to reliable sources both in Zintan itself and at the Mellitah gas complex on the coast where the gas is treated.
The disruption is likely to affect electricity production at the gas-fired Ruwais power station in the Jebel Nafusa. Additionally, protestors from nearby Hawamid have been demonstrating at the station complaining of neglect and have threatened to the shut down the Ruwais power station as of Monday if their grievances are not addressed.
This week GECOL warned that there could be power cuts in Tripoli because of proser production problems.
Explosions in Benghazi destroy cars, cigarette kiosk
By Noora Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 29 March 2014:
Two separate overnight explosions in Benghazi have destroyed a number of vehicles outside a car showroom in Hay Al-Salam and a cigarette stall in Sabri district.
A bomb was placed underneath one of the vehicles parked outside a showroom belonging to Jalal Al-Surmani. So far there are no clues as who was involved or the reasons.
The kiosk attack was the second it has suffered. There have been a number of attacks on such kiosks over the past year, mainly in Benghazi and Derna, some being blown up, others burned down. Salafists, who view smoking as haram, are widely seen as being behind the attacks.
That may again be the reason in this case. However, it is also reported that the brother of the kiosk owner was Essam Mohamed Salah Al-Owjali, the head of the Ministry of Health’s Inspection and Follow-Up Department for east Libya, who was murdered in Benghazi just over a fortnight ago. Whether the two incidents are connected is unknown.
Another Egyptian Christian found murdered in Bengahzi
By Noora Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 29 March 2014:
Another Egyptian Christian has been murdered in Benghazi. The body of Jad Abdulmasahi Abdulmalik was taken to Benghazi Medical Centre this morning having been found in Gwarsha district. In his later 30s, according to a source at the hospital, he had been shot several times, including in the head.
The Egyptian foreign ministry says he was shot by a armed group while unloading vegetables at a shop.
At the beginning of this month, an Egyptian Christian was found shot dead in Jarutha 30 kilometres from Benghazi, the day after another was shot at his grocery stall in Majouri district. Just over a month ago, seven Egyptian Christians were found executed in the same Jaroutha area.
There appears to be a campaign against Egyptian Christians being carried out across the country, although it is unknown whether it is coordinated or who is behind it. There have been suggestions that Egyptian militants could be involved, but this cannot be verified.
Last month, the Egyptian Coptic church in Tripoli was closed after the priest was grabbed by assailants who threatened to kill him and his family if he did not immediately leave the country.
The Coptic church in Benghazi was already closed following arson attacks a year ago.
Morning Glory takes temporary berth in Khoms
By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab and Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 28 March 2014:
The oil tanker Morning Glory involved in illegally loading Libya oil docked at Khoms port yesterday.
According to senior port official it would probably head on to Zawia “in two or three days” to unload its cargo, but admitted he was unsure as to when exactly it would leave.
According to another source at the port, the vessel which has been making a circuitous progress along Libya’s western coast since it was handed over by the US navy to the Libyan navy six days ago, sailed from Tripoli because of problems docking there.
According to the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, there were fears for the tanker’s safety in Tripoli’s port. However, the vessel’s size is believed to have been the real reason for it heading to Khoms. With its deep water berths, it is designed and equipped to accommodate ships of such size.
The source confirmed also that the tanker, which the Libyan judicial authorities reportedly plan to formally confiscate, could be moved at any time to Zawia oil port.
There are reports, however, that the oil will be transferred to another tanker and exported. This would avoid anyone trying to claim it if it delivered the cargo to a foreign port.
However as one western ambassador in Tripoli noted yesterday, “no one is going to want to claim it. They would be admitting their part in stealing the oil and be open to prosecution”.
Libya poised to retake oil ports from rebels in move that could split country
Rebels blockading ports in the eastern province of Cyrenaica say they will form a breakaway state if government forces attack
Rebels vehicles are deployed to maintain the blockade of oil ports to the east of city of Sirte. Photograph: Reuters
Libyan government forces are poised to attack rebels blockading key oil ports this weekend in an offensive that risks splitting the country apart.
A deadline for rebels in the eastern province of Cyrenaica to hand over the ports, blockaded since last summer, has passed with the opposition still in control and vowing to form a breakaway state if attacked.
Rebel militias are dug in along Red Wadi, a valley preventing access along Libya's coastal highway to three blockaded ports. "The deadline is already over," said Osama Buera, a spokesman for the rebel Cyrenaica Political Bureau. "The central authorities in Tripoli are in a weak position. We still encourage a serious dialogue, otherwise we will just break away declaring the independence of new Cyrenaica."
Meanwhile, militias in the western mountain town of Zintan have cut one of Libya's last remaining pipelines, further choking production and leaving the government facing rebellion on two fronts.
The blockade, which has robbed the government of one of its only sources of revenue, is the most serious crisis Libya has faced since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi three years ago. It has left some observers predicting disaster. "Libya is teetering on the brink of failure," said Sarah Lean Whitson of Human Rights Watch.
Militias and tribes in both eastern and western oil-producing regions demand a bigger share of cash, echoing complaints that the economy is in chaos despite Libya having Africa's largest oil reserves.
Earlier this month, US special forces captured a renegade tanker off Cyprus after Cyrenaica rebels tried to sell oil independently. Washington insisted it supported the elected authorities.
The episode triggered a political crisis in Libya, with congress firing the prime minister, Ali Zeidan, and ordering the pro-government Libya Shield militias to mobilise. The two-week deadline set by the president of congress, Nur Abu Sahmain, for the ports to be unblocked or face attack expired on Friday.
Libya Shield militias led by forces from thecoastal city of Misrata are ready to attack, having already fought against rebels earlier this month. "The deadline has passed, they [the rebels] were supposed to hand the ports over." said Anwar Sawan, a Misrata community leader. "Weapons are the only resort if they don't hand them over."
With both sides mobilising, tension is high across Libya. Most international airlines, including British Airways, have suspended flights to Tripoli international airport, controlled by a Zintan militia, after rockets struck the runway. "We have no idea when the planes will be back. We will wait and see," said a travel agent at the half-empty airport
Nightly skirmishes between militias along the airport road have emptied the streets and left many fearful.
"Everyone is worried about the militias," said Abdullah Abdul Masen Bashir, the owner of Tripoli's most successful honey shop . Normally, his shelves would be groaning with the spring harvest from the eastern Green mountains, but the de facto frontline near the border of Cyrenaica has cut deliveries. "My shop should be full. It was a very good year. The conditions were right, just the amount of rain, but nothing has arrived," he said.
The Islamist-led congress is also under fire for having stayed in office beyond its original mandate, which expired last month. Opposition television stations now run a small icon showing a "red card" calling for parliament to be dissolved.
Strikes in refineries have caused petrol shortages in the capital and, with the country awash with weapons and lacking an effective police force, there has been a spate of high-profile bank robberies. BP this month became the latest major oil company to pull out of Libya.
Zeidan, who fled into exile after his dismissal, claiming his life was under threat, called this week for direct foreign intervention. "Any means to have security will be accepted in Libya. We should have forces that are part of the United Nations, regional or Middle Eastern troops," he told CNN.
Many citizens feel the same way, despairing of the worsening violence and the prospect of civil war. "We are becoming fractured because of the failure of the centre," said the Tripoli art historian Yousef Alkhaaki. "Without the intervention of the international community, we are doomed."
Diplomats say there is no appetite for the deployment of peacekeepers, although a dozen British army officers are in Tripoli preparing Libyan recruits for training next month at a base in Cambridgeshire.
Libyans are losing faith in democracy, after the failure of congress to tackle corruption, economic malaise and militia violence. Last month, just 500,000 voters, or 15% of the electorate, turned out to elect an assembly to write Libya's constitution.