New Counterattack Against Oil Crescent Likely To Be Repulsed
On 25 December commanders from the Misratan Military Council, the main umbrella organisation for the city’s militias, met with Islamist BDB commanders and fighters in their base in Hun, a town around 300k, south of Sirte, to organise such a unified front. On 26 December, LNA fighter jets launched airstrikes against BDB positions in Hun. Critically, one of the Banyan al-Marsus coalition brigades suffered losses during the airstrike. The head of Misrata’s defence zone affiliated with the GNA’s Ministry of Defence and BM condemned the attack on 26 December and reiterated calls for Haftar’s exclusion from the political peace process. News reports indicate that a brigade affiliated with Bunyan Marsus incurred losses in the airstrikes. This is likely to add fuel to the fire of the Haftar-Misrata enmity, possibly consolidating more Misratan support for the BDB against the LNA. It could mean an escalation because it may draw Misratan fighters into the battle against Haftar on the side of the Islamists, which would give the allied former Libya Dawn fighters more chance of launching a successful, or at least more sustained, counter attack in the oil crescent. Conversely, that this counterattack has gotten no where fast seems to my mind to indicate that these issues will have to be settled through some kind of compromise as force cannot be successful.
On a separate but connected note, the overall oil picture in Libya and how production increases could affect world markets an OPEC’s attempts to curtail production was addressed in a useful article in Oil Price.com. This analysis assumes that production in the oil crescent is safe in the short term and I concur with this analysis.
My thoughts on the chances of a new policy of the Trump administration leading to a reconciliation among Haftar, Misrata, and Zintan were featured in an article in the Digital Journal.
Jason Pack, the author and North Africa analyst at Risk Intelligence, also notes that there is speculation that the Trump administration will also look more favorably on Haftar and his strong supporter Abdul el-Sisi, president of Egypt. Haftar has been to Russia recently and appears to be building up stronger relationships with Russia. He already has the support of Egypt, the UAE, and Jordan…
Pack, rightly warns, that should Haftar make a move against Tripoli, his opponents could soon unify. Pack believes that Haftar’s announcement is simply to give notice to his rivals and potential allies as well as provide leverage to be included in negotiations about Libya’s future. In spite of, or perhaps because of, Haftar’s threats, the UN envoy Martin Kobler insists that Haftar must have a place in any new Government of National Accord. However, it is unclear how Kobler or anyone else will be able to incorporate Haftar as commander in chief of a national army as seems to be his desire without having the GNA implode, Many members of the Presidency Council and even more the High State Council are apposed to Haftar having any role in a new GNA. Western countries continue to support the GNA and warn against having dealings with parallel institutions. Countries such as Russia, Egypt, and the UAE still pay lip service to the LPA but are paying no attention to warnings about dealing with parallel institutions.
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