Libya Dawn Offensive Against the Oil Ports Kicks Off
On Saturday 13 December, air forces belonging to Khalifa Haftar’s Operation Dignity attacked military forces and convoys of the Misratan-led Libya Dawn camp that were heading towards the oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Sidra. The Misratan moves comes after weeks of talking about pushing Eastward to challenge the HoR and the Federalists control of these key locations.It is likely that a number of factors fed into the decision of Libya Dawn to send out its troop at this particular stage, allegedly under a mandate received from the rump GNC active in Tripoli. Firstly, Thinni’s cabinet recently took concrete steps to establish a new headquarters and new bank accounts for the National Oil Corporation in a bid to divert all international payments for Libyan oil directly under the control of the Tubruq-based establishment. Secondly, on Monday 8 December Libya’s Central Bank announced that Libya’s income budget decreased by two thirds, from last year’s $45 billion to the current $15 billion. Both sides in Libya rely heavily on their ability to hand out cash payments and subsidies to maintain their legitimacy and internal standing. It is thus likely that the al-Hassi cabinet and broad Libya Dawn camp saw these two developments as potentially leading to their collapse in the medium to long term and decided to try removing oilfields and oil terminals from Tubruq’s control to increase their financial resilience in the short term and win the battle against the HoR in the long-term. Lastly, an increasing number of media reports indicate a stabilisation of the security situation in most of Benghazi, which is now largely under control of Operation Dignity troops. In this sense, Saturday’s attack on Sidra and Ras Lanuf can also be seen as an attempt to weaken the entrenchment of Operation Dignity troops in Benghazi by opening a number of new fronts and battlefields in the whole of Eastern Libya. To read the rather bare-bones AP account of this offensive click here.