Struggle Over Oil Crescent Could Make or Break Libya
In an article for Middle East Eye, Wolfgang Pusztai and Arnaud Delalande analyse the military strategy of the Benghazi Defence Brigades which allowed them to get past LNA defences in the oil crescent, saying that “there is strong indication that a number of fighters from Misrata’s experienced al-Marsa brigade reinforced the offensive, probably a decisive element of the plan.” They conclude that:
On the political side, while Fayez Serraj’s GNA, the international supported government of Libya, rejected the offensive, the Grand Mufti and probably also Khalifa Al-Ghwell’s Islamist Salvation Government are in support of it. Maybe the operation needs to be seen in context with the brief occupation of the National Oil Corporation headquarters in Tripoli by militias close to al-Ghwell last Friday.
If the BDB can maintain control over the oil ports, this could significantly strengthen the Mufti and al-Ghwell and eventually lead to the end of Serraj and the GNA. Without any doubt, it would significantly weaken the position of Serraj, who has no means to influence the warring factions. This is bad news for the Europeans, who count on him in their refugee deal.
The developments in the oil crescent will certainly make any negotiations between the two major Libyan military powers, the Misrata and the LNA, much more difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, the political dialogue between the HoR and the GNA will be also much more complicated. For the HoR and Haftar, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to negotiate with somebody who has no influence on the ground.
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