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Libya’s Haftar says wants to control Tripoli, not oil

Published: July 6, 2019
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Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) General Khalifa Haftar said yesterday that his main focus is taking control of the Libyan capital Tripoli and expelling militias from the city, explaining that he does not only care about the army’s exportation of oil.

In a letter to US news agency Bloomberg, Haftar said that the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation currently enjoys exclusive export rights for Libyan crude oil.

Haftar denied accusations that the LNA seized the airports of the oil company, but stressed the right to use them if necessary. He also vowed to continue to protect all oil facilities, according to Libyan newspaper Al-Marsad.

He did, however, urge the state oil producer not to use its resources to “support terrorists and armed militias, and to avoid interfering” with his army or working against it.

“The army is not a trader. It does not legally or illegally sell oil,” Haftar explained, adding: “The biggest concern of some countries, especially those concerned with the global economy, is the impact of our military operations on oil production, but the reality has proved that these fears are unjustified.”

Meanwhile, spokesman for the LNA Major General Ahmed Al-Mismari announced on Thursday via his official Facebook page that “the ground defence shot down an L39 aircraft, resulting in the death of its commander after taking off from the Air Academy Misurata to raid security officers in the city of Tarhunah”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed the need for a ceasefire in Libya and the start of dialogue between parties, blaming the 2011 bombing of the country by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) for the current situation in Libya.

“We have agreed to continue coordination to resolve the crisis in Libya, where the situation is unfortunately deteriorating; terrorist activity is growing and the number of victims is increasing,” Putin said during a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

“In general, we need to remember how things started and who ruined the situation in Libya. I suppose this was a NATO decision when the European aircrafts bombed Libya. This resulted in the destruction of Libya and we can see chaos and conflict among different armed groups,” Putin added, expressing his concern about the flow of extremist fighters from Syria’s Idlib to Libya and pointing out that this constitutes a threat to everyone.

Sources from Sky News Arabia claim that the transfer of extremist fighters from Syria’s Idlib to Libya is carried out via Turkish territories by Libyan Wings Airlines airplanes owned by Abdelhakim Belhaj, one of the leaders of the Libyan militias who currently resides in Turkey.

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The United Nations Security Council has called on Libya's warring parties to commit to a ceasefire after a deadly air raid on a detention centre for migrants and refugees near the capital, Tripoli.  "The members of the Security Council stressed the need for all parties to urgently de-escalate the situation and to commit to a ceasefire," the 15-member body said in a joint statement on Friday. "Lasting peace and stability in Libya will come only through a political solution."

We've noted before that Libya's new civil war has increasingly come out in the open as in reality an international proxy war, with even the White House in the past months "switching" support from the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli to the renegade General Khalifa Haftar, whose LNA forces have for months laid siege to the capital in an attempt to wrest the country from GNA authority.

Libya’s UN-backed internationally recognized government has suspended the Libyan operations of as many as 40 foreign companies, including those of France’s oil and gas supermajor Total, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing a government official.  

In a sharp reversal of longstanding US policy which recognizes only the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli as the legitimate authority over Libya, the White House on Friday said President Trump spoke by phone this week to Benghazi based commander Kalifa Haftar, pledging support to the general and his Libyan National Army (LNA) as it lays siege to the capital.

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