Libya's internationally backed government urged its forces on Sunday to act
after two oil terminals fell to rival troops, raising fears of further violence
in a country already gripped by turmoil.
came after forces loyal to the unrecognised eastern authority seized two key
Tripoli-based Government of National Accord called on all forces loyal to it to
"protect and defend" the ports against what it called "flagrant
aggression" of Libyan sovereignty.
Mediterranean ports are in Libya's "oil crescent", and seen as a
vital source of income for the GNA which is struggling to assert its authority.
controlled by guards allied to the GNA, the ports of Al-Sidra and Ras Lanuf
were seized by forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar.
the most powerful military figures in Libya, Haftar is allied with a rival
authority to the GNA based in the east.
Mesmari, a spokesperson for Haftar's forces, told a press conference that another
oil terminal at Zuwaytina was not yet under their control.
with pro-GNA forces, allied to guards defending the facilities, confirmed that
Haftar's fighters were in control of Al-Sidra and Ras Lanuf.
El-Ouraybi, a spokesman for the eastern authority, told AFP the attack was
aimed at "regaining full control of the oil crescent".
government calls on all the people of the oil crescent area - including those
who were in the oil installations guards - to join the army or return to their
homes," he said.
GNA on Facebook urged all "military forces" loyal to the unity
government "to protect and defend the oil installations and terminals and
to carry out their military and national duties bravely and without hesitation".
also called on Haftar's forces to "immediately withdraw from all the sites
they have attacked".
and Al-Sidra are together capable of handling 700 000 barrels of oil per day
but had been closed for months after jihadist attacks.
'Blow to oil industry'
July, the oil installation guards announced the reopening of the two ports
after an agreement with the unity government to resume oil exports.
been closed following attacks in January by the Islamic State group, who took
advantage of turmoil after the 2011 uprising to gain a foothold in the country.
weeks, pro-GNA forces backed by US air strikes have been pressing a months-long
campaign to expel the last IS jihadists from what was their North African
the city of Sirte in June last year, sparking fears they would use the city
west of the oil crescent as a launchpad for attacks in Europe.
forces have since 2014 been fighting jihadists in the second city of Benghazi
northeast of the oil-rich crescent.
Libya envoy Martin Kobler said on Twitter he was worried about the fighting.
belongs to ALL Libyans," he tweeted. "Conflicts can only be solved
through dialogue, not violence. Urge all parties to sit 2gether."
Toaldo, a Libya expert with the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the
seizure of the terminals could deal a fatal blow to Libya's oil sector.
there is a very quick mediation, this could lead to conflict and a final blow
to Libya's oil industry," Toaldo said.
Libya's main natural resource with reserves estimated at 48 billion barrels,
the largest in Africa.
2010 the country's production has plummeted from 1.5 million bpd to just 200 000
oil sector is managed by the National Oil Company which is split into two rival
branches, one allied to the GNA and the other to the authority in the east.
pro-GNA forces expel ISIS from Sirte and there is no buffer between them and
Haftar's army, either side "could easily clash again", Toaldo said.
pro-GNA military command is based in the city of Misrata.
attack on the ports aimed to "take advantage of Misrata's exhaustion after
Sirte" and "undermine any negotiation on the future of the GNA",
been in chaos since the 2011 revolt that toppled and killed longtime dictator
Moamer Kadhafi, with rival authorities and militias vying to control the
UN-brokered deal in December led to the unity government starting to work in
Tripoli, but it has struggled to assert its authority.
parliament in the east last month voted no confidence in the GNA in a setback
to efforts to end the political chaos.