News / Middle East

Violence Escalates as Libya Faces Oil Standoff

Violence Escalates As Libya Faces Oil Standoffi
X
January 09, 2014 10:43 PM
A standoff between Libya’s central government and militias who control oil fields threatens to escalate into conflict, after the rebels said they would sell oil directly on the world market despite a government ban. Militias in the east and south are demanding autonomy, threatening to derail Libya’s path to stability following the overthrow of Muammar Gadhafi in 2011. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, the lawlessness is feeding violence across the country.
Henry Ridgwell
A standoff between Libya’s central government and militias who control oil fields threatens to escalate into conflict, after the rebels said they would sell oil directly to the world market despite a government ban. Militias in the east and south are demanding autonomy, threatening to derail Libya’s path to stability following the overthrow of Muammar Gadhafi in 2011. The lawlessness is feeding violence across the country.

The lines of cars waiting for gasoline snake through the streets of Tripoli.  Libya may have among the world’s biggest oil reserves - but people are waiting for hours or even days to buy fuel. Among them is Tripoli resident Fatima.

Fatima says she has been waiting for days now. "This country… we will not be able to live here... the situation worsens every day," she says.

Militias in the east have blockaded ports and refineries - starving the country of its one primary source of cash - oil exports. Production is less than a fifth of the pre-revolution level of 1.6 million barrels per day.

Ibrahim al-Jathran, who leads the Benghazi-based militia that has led the oil blockade, says they stopped the oil shipments because the oil money goes out and comes back to suppress and terrify Libyan citizens.

Jathran’s militia has declared its own autonomous government in the east and is trying to sell oil directly on the world market - risking confrontation with Libya's navy.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has rejected giving any autonomy to the militias. But he has few options, says John Hamilton of analyst group Cross-Border Information.

“There’s really no prospect of the government moving against them militarily, that would be a disaster. They’ve tried bribing them, they’ve tried persuading them. The government can’t meet their political demands and so it’s a deadlock,” he said.

That deadlock must be broken if Libya is to become a stable democracy, says former U.S. diplomat Ethan Chorin, author of a book on the Libyan revolution titled Exit the Colonel.

“If things keep going in this direction then some form of federalism is not only inevitable, but probably a good idea,” said Chorin.

Compounding economic, political woes

Escalating violence is compounding Libya’s economic and political woes. This month a Briton and a New Zealander were shot dead near Tripoli.  In December, Libya’s first suicide bomb attack near Benghazi killed seven soldiers.

Ethan Chorin says the deteriorating security situation can be traced to the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, in which U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

“Which essentially turned much of the east into a no-man’s land, not only for Westerners but for the central government. And certainly there are a collection of criminal and former regimist and Islamist factions that are taking advantage of the chaos,” he said.

That lawlessness has turned parts of Libya into a haven for militants, says Professor Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics.

“Libya has emerged now as a major base, a flow, of fighters and arms to west Africa, to north Africa, even to Syria,” said Gerges,

Bringing Libya’s factions and heavily-armed militias together under one flag continues to pose a great challenge - and analysts say the consequences of failure would impact the entire region.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

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