News / Middle East

    US Forces Hand Over Seized Oil Tanker to Libya

    FILE - A North Korean-flagged tanker is docked at the Es Sider export terminal in Ras Lanuf, Libya, March 8, 2014.
    FILE - A North Korean-flagged tanker is docked at the Es Sider export terminal in Ras Lanuf, Libya, March 8, 2014.
    Reuters
    The U.S. Navy handed over to Libyan authorities on Saturday an oil tanker carrying crude that had been loaded at a port controlled by armed rebels in defiance of Tripoli's government.
     
    The Morning Glory tanker was due to arrive later on Saturday at Libya's government-controlled Zawiya port after being seized by U.S. commandos and escorted back through international waters by the U.S. Navy, Libyan officials said.
     
    Hours before the handover, at least 16 people were wounded when Libyan rebels occupying three eastern oil ports clashed with troops and attacked an army base, where pro-government forces had been preparing to break the rebel blockade.
     
    Anti-aircraft gunfire and explosions were heard overnight and after dawn on Saturday in Ajdabiya, the hometown of rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran, whose fighters seized the ports last summer to demand a greater share in Libya's oil resources.
     
    The struggle for control of Libya's vital petroleum resources is one of the key challenges facing the weak central government, which has still failed to secure the North African country three years after the fall of Moammer Gadhafi.
     
    Brigades of former anti-Gadhafi rebels and militias refuse to disarm and often use armed force or control of oil facilities to make demands on a state whose army is still in training.
     
    U.S. special forces boarded and seized the Morning Glory tanker last Sunday off Cyprus, days after it left Libya with a cargo of crude from one port, Es Sider, occupied by Jathran's men who had vowed to export oil themselves to resist Tripoli.
     
    “The handover took place in international waters off the coast of Libya, and the Government of Libya and its security forces are now in control of the vessel,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.
     
    Once the Morning Glory docks, crude from the tanker will be fed into Zawiya refinery, which has been forced to lower its production because of a protest at another oil facility, the El Sharara oilfield, officials at Zawiya port said.
     
    Zawiya port is 55 km (34 miles) west of the capital Tripoli.
     
    The Tripoli government gave Jathran a two-week deadline on March 12 to end his port blockade or face a military assault, though analysts say Libya's nascent armed forces may struggle to carry out that threat.
     
    Jathran's self-declared Cyrenaica government is demanding more autonomy for his eastern region. Attempts to broker a deal between the rebels and Tripoli have so far failed.
     
    LANA state news agency said tribal community leaders helped stop the fighting earlier on Saturday between the rebels and Libyan soldiers. But the agency reported 16 people were wounded.
     
    Split, rivalries
     
    After months of threats, Jathran's federalist gunmen managed to load crude onto the Morning Glory tanker. The ship left port  and escaped Libya's navy, embarrassing Tripoli's government and prompting parliament to sack Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.
     
    The seizure of the tanker in international waters was a rare boost for the government, which has struggled to end a standoff that has cost the state more than $7 billion in lost revenue.
     
    The three rebel-held ports account for around 700,000 barrels per day of Libya's oil export capacity, or around half of its total petroleum shipments.
     
    The town where Saturday's battle broke out, Ajdabiya, is divided between Jathran supporters and those who fear his oil blockade will lead to the collapse of the state.
     
    But any major assault on the three ports may bolster support for Jathran's cause for a federalist state.
     
    Tripoli's government is also stymied by infighting among Islamists, secular parties and tribes that has delayed Libya's transition to democracy since the fall of Gadhafi, whose one-man rule left few state institutions.
     
    Western governments, which backed NATO's air strikes to help the 2011 anti-Gadhafi revolt, are training Libya's armed forces and are pressing the factions to reach a political settlement.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Nancy H Franco from: Philadelphia PA USA
    March 23, 2014 2:30 AM
    I believe this is yours. Boy ya think you would notice something this large missing wouldn't ya.

    I sincerely wish that the new Libya will continue to lead the way in providing health care for every citizen and make this the most important goal of this new millennium. I believe we can work together in the fight to provide safe clean affordable health care for every person an achievable reality, we have learned much from your health care ideals and we have employed these ideals in our new health care system. I think we can continue to learn and work together to make this an even better place for us all to live and prosper. Peace Grace Be Careful See Ya Later

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora