Haftar Takeover of Libyan Oil Crescent Could Signal Demise of GNA
Jason Pack and Rhiannon Smith write an opinion piece for the Middle East Eye discussing the potential implications of Haftar’s takeover of the oil crescent ports on 11 September, particularly for the Government of National Accord and the UN peace process.
The LNA takeover of the Oil Crescent ports has dramatically shifted the balance of military and political power in Libya towards Haftar. He has extended his territorial control westwards, while his calls for the ports to be reopened will likely bolster his perceived credibility and legitimacy among many Libyans.
Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Haftar will be able to export any oil in the short to medium term, if at all. The international community has made it clear they would treat exports from these ports as illegal, while in order for the ports (other than Brega) to become operational, the NOC would need to conduct repairs and lift force majeure. The former requires GNA budget and the latter GNA approval, neither of which are likely to be forthcoming.
However, Haftar doesn’t need to export oil to weaken the GNA. Haftar has always been against the GNA as he wants power for himself alone. By removing the oil crescent ports from Federalist/GNA control, he has not only demonstrated the body’s inability to secure key state infrastructure and institutions, but he has cut one of the few vital lifelines which could save the internationally recognised GNA: the ability to restart oil exports and boost Libya’s failing economy.
They conclude that
Most importantly, to avoid inadvertently creating further chaos, the international community must ensure that this political solution is in place before engaging any further militarily in Libya.
This does not mean giving into Haftar’s demands, but equally it doesn’t mean clinging to the GNA or the current UN process against all odds. If this happens, the danger is that as the balance of power and popular opinion on the ground shifts away from the GNA, the UN and other Western countries could be left supporting an entity that is a government in name only.
The full article can be accessed here.