News / Middle East

Libya's Political Tensions Appear Headed Towards a Showdown

Libyan's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks to the media during a press conference in Rabat, Morocco, Oct. 8, 2013
Libyan's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks to the media during a press conference in Rabat, Morocco, Oct. 8, 2013
Political tensions in Libya which have left the country paralyzed appear to be heading towards a showdown.  Libya’s fractious parliamentarians have given the country’s beleaguered Prime Minister Ali Zeidan an ultimatum to resolve a dispute with wayward militias over the closure of vital eastern oil terminals politically,  or use military force to get the oil flowing again.
 
Zeidan, who has been locked in a standoff with militias who have closed the oil terminals, has vacillated between offering optimistic predictions of resolving the dispute, and dire warnings of the financial dangers of the oil blockade. Analysts say in any case it’s unclear whether Zeidan has enough control over Libya’s fledgling security forces to force eastern militias to lift the blockades.   
 
Last week, he announced the export terminals in the eastern Libyan towns of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider and Zueitina, which collectively account for 60 percent of Libya’s oil exports, would reopen after tribal elders brokered negotiations between blockade leaders and the government. But the ports have remained shuttered, dealing a severe political blow to onetime human rights lawyer Zeidan.
 
The leader of the blockade, Ibrahim al-Jathran, who once oversaw the Petroleum Facilities Guard assigned to defend the facilities his supporters have blockaded since July, refused to reopen the key oil-exporting ports until the Tripoli government recognizes eastern Libya, known by federalists as Cyrenaica, as a semi-autonomous region. Al-Jathran has demanded also that Cyrenaica receives the lion share of Libyan oil revenue.
 
The continuation of the Libyan lockout prompted jitters on the oil market with oil futures fluctuating wildly. Last week, on Zeidan’s announcement that the ports would reopen, Brent crude futures fell back 2.5 percent. This week they gained as much as $1.97 to $110.80 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
 
“International oil markets are apprehensive,” the U.S. political risk consultancy Stratfor observed in a note to clients, adding, “Tripoli still faces significant challenges in guaranteeing and protecting its energy industry.” The consultancy described al-Jathran as “an intractable adversary with a desire for embarrassing Prime Minister Zeidan and his government in Tripoli.”
 
Parliament moves against Zeidan

The ultimatum set by lawmakers is being seen by some analysts as an ambush for Zeidan, who has been at loggerheads with the Libya’s parliament the General National Congress, or GNC since militias managed briefly to abduct him in October. The prime minister accused political foes inside the GNC of being behind the kidnapping. 
 
Libyan commentator Hafed al-Ghwell, a World Bank adviser, argues the ultimatum given to Zeidan is part of “an active tug of war between the GNC and the government these days.”
 
Libya’s Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi said earlier this month the country had lost more than $7 billion because of the blockades that began July 28, a devastating setback for Libya, which relies on oil exports for nearly all of its foreign revenues. He warned that Algerian and Nigerian producers are now securing Libya’s customers. The British risk consultancy Oxford Analytica cautioned last week that a continued blockade could mean that Libya loses its status as a leading oil producer.  “Libya’s position on the world oil market is slipping,” it said.  Libya’s output has fallen from 1.4 million barrels a day before the uprising that ousted Moammar Gadhafi to 210,000 barrels a day currently.
 
Blockade leader al-Jathran has laid down three conditions for reopening the terminals: an investigation into alleged illegal crude sales by corrupt government officials, the establishment of an independent committee to monitor crude exports, and more development projects for Cyrenaica. He and other federalism advocates in oil-rich eastern Libya announced in November the formation of their own regional administration.
 
A federal system was observed for most of the reign of King Idris, who ruled from 1951, after decolonization, until Gadhafi overthrew him in 1969. Federalists say the central government in Tripoli should only control defense, central banking and foreign policy.
 
The blockade is adding to public disaffection with the Zeidan government and disenchantment with the political process.  The country is due early next year to vote on a 60-member committee tasked with drafting a new constitution, but the December 15 deadline for registration has had to be put back by the country’s election commission because only 393,522 voters registered, a tenth of those eligible, and a massive drop from the nearly 2.7 million who registered to vote in the GNC elections 18 months ago.
 
“Zeidan’s government seems to be going nowhere, and it is very difficult to determine the degree of support he has among political groups and the public,” according to Karim Mezran, senior fellow with the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the US-based think tank the Atlantic Council.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jennifer from: adelaide
December 20, 2013 3:00 PM
Libya is so fortunate to have oil revenue. It's such a pity that a system of fair agreements and transparency re conduct of officials aren't yet in place.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid