Last week forces of the eastern-based General Khalifa Haftar were able to take over the four main ports of the Libyan Oil Crescent, Ras Lanuf, Brega, Es Sidra, and Zuwetina. There was little resistance from the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) who had control of the ports. The PFG under its leader Ibrahim Jadhran had reached a deal with the GNA to reopen the ports. Jadhran supports the GNA. Jadhran and Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army and loyal to the rival to the GNA the government of the House of Representatives (HoR), are mortal enemies.
When Haftar seized the ports, many, including Martin Kobler UN envoy to Libya and a number of western nations thought that export of oil would be delayed. However, Hafter turned over the ports to the NOC even though he does not recognize the GNA. However, it seems that now the remaining PFG forces loyal to Jadhran have launched a counter-attack on Haftar aimed at retaking the ports.
Mohamed Ibset, spokesperson for Haftar's forces said:"The Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) launched an offensive this morning and (our forces) are fighting them in Ras Lanuf." The PFG said it had launched counterattacks on two of the oil ports. A spokesperson said: "We attacked Al-Sidra and Ras Lanuf, and Haftar's forces are trying to hit us with their warplanes." Muftah al-Muqarief, who is in charge of oil guards loyal to Haftar said the counter-attack was launched from the west by "militias backed by outlaws". He said the attacks had been repelled and the attackers were being chased, with some being captured. However, there is no independent confirmation of these reports. It may take some time before the situation becomes clear. There are reports that the PFG forces were attacked by foreign airplanes. Some reports also suggest the counter-attack was repelled.
The Libyan ambassador from the UK, Peter Millet said in a tweet that the two sides should show restraint. There had been optimism that oil exports and production were about to increase providing badly need revenue to Libya.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.