Jadhran Hands over Port and Signs of Grand Bargain Emerging
Libya has given a few reasons to be hopeful over the past week. This has been underappreciated. Certainly, Alison Pargeter was spot on to point out the persistence of militia dominance on the ground and the dysfunctionality of central institutions in a brilliant AJE article today. But a lot is moving and shaking and On July 2nd, Libya’s biggest Cyrenaican oil ports — Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra (Essider) with over a capacity of 500,000 barrels a day– were handed over by the federalists to the government and are in the process of becoming ready to receive tankers. Previous attempted bargains with Jadhran fell through or were never implemented because Islamist actors in the GNC and ministries undermined them assuming they could attempt to dominate Jadhran militarily and gain dominance over the oil sector for themselves.
What has happened is that Jadhran’s federalists have essentially stated their intention to finally honour the second part of an April agreement with outgoing prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni to open the ports under their control (the first part related to Zuweitina and Hariga), culminating in their miraculously handing over Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra to the government on Wednesday. It is unclear exactly what the government is offering to Jadhran in return but this should soon become clear as Jadhran begins to assume a new position in the national political scene. This dramatic but not unpredictable development could act as a precursor to further various locally-brokered arrangements to finally truly end the political and economic stalemates of the GNC period. It shows that Jadhran is calculating that the House of Representatives will be far less Islamist-dominated than the GNC was, and that if a grand bargain / unity government is going to occur he would like to be included/have his share of the spoils. Read my take on the big picture dimension of this all in the Middle East Eye by clicking here.