Is Jadhran’s Support Waning?
Reuters has published a boldly titled article: “Support crumbles in east Libya for oil blockade leader”. On the one hand, I’m quite eager for news of the Cyrenaican tribes turning against Jadhran so that the oil can get flowing and the Libyan economy and constitutional process can get back on track. Yet given developments up and till now, I am of course skeptical that things are moving in that direction. So you can read the whole article here to judge by yourself. Or glance at some of the key paragraphs I put below.
Even Jathran’s own tribe and leaders in its hometown speak angrily about getting exports flowing again as capital Tripoli warns it may no longer be able to pay public salaries because the blockade has slashed oil revenues. Surveying the potholed roads and abandoned buildings of Ajdabiya, mayor Salem Abdullah is all for fighting for more autonomy and oil wealth from the central government – but not for the blockade. “We are opposed the closure of the oil ports,” he told Reuters. “This has had a very, very negative impact.”
“The right way for us to have been represented would be by elections,” Abdullah said, slamming his right hand on the office desk in frustration. “If you want to represent by force you cannot talk in name of the people.” Jathran’s al-Magharba tribe is pressuring him to withdraw his men to free up at least 600,000 barrels a day of badly needed oil exports. Several meetings have been held though an attempt to negotiate failed in December. “Sit-ins in front of ports to demand your rights are fine… but shutting down ports is not acceptable. Oil is Libya’s only income and belongs to all Libyans,” said Saleh Atawich, the top Magharba leader.
He has put the strength of his force at more than 20,000 but few in the east believe this, and some oil industry and local estimates put his troop levels at below 5,000….. Jathran says his self-appointed government has formed an oil company to sell crude by bypassing Tripoli’s authority. His group has only appointed a director, and claims to rely otherwise on sympathetic former NOC staff.