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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.