East Libyan forces clash with rivals near oil ports

Libyan Army Forces belonging to Libya's rival government, that are part of the Alshorooq (Libya Dawn) operation to free oil ports, are seen on the outskirts of Al Sidra oil port, in this December 14, 2014 file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 04 March 2017
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East Libyan forces clash with rivals near oil ports

BENGHAZI: East Libyan forces said they carried out airstrikes and clashed with rival factions on Friday close to major oil terminals as they sought to fend off the latest challenge to their control of the ports.
The strikes were carried out south of the coastal town of Nawfiliya in response to an attack by the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB), according to spokesmen for the eastern air force and for the local Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG). A military spokesman said the attack had been repelled.
Nawfiliya is about 50 km west of the oil port Es Sider and 75 km west of another terminal, Ras Lanuf.
An oil official at Ras Lanuf said the port was under PFG authority but that there was fighting close to Es Sider. A second port source said operations at the ports had not been affected.
Es Sider and Ras Lanuf are among four ports that the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) took control of in September.
It allowed the National Oil Corp. (NOC) to reopen three of the ports, which had long been blockaded, allowing a sharp boost to Libya’s oil production.
The LNA’s opponents have made several attempts since then to recapture the ports, but have been pushed back by airstrikes.
The Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB) are composed partly of fighters who were ousted from Benghazi by the LNA, where LNA commander Khalifa Haftar has been waging a military campaign for nearly three years against radicals and other opponents.
The LNA brands its opponents as extremists, and both sides accuse the other of using mercenaries from Libya’s sub-Saharan neighbors to the south.
“The armed forces have repelled in these moments the attack by the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda supported by Chadian ground forces against the Oil Crescent ports,” said LNA spokesman Ahmed Al-Mismari.
Libya has recently been producing about 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, more than double its output early last year but still far less than the 1.6 million bpd the member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was pumping before the 2011 uprising.
But production remains vulnerable to political turmoil and continued insecurity, with factions based in the east and west of Libya repeatedly clashing in recent weeks in desert areas southwest of the Oil Crescent whose ports suffered major damage in previous rounds of fighting and are still operating well below capacity.
The NOC has been lobbying foreign firms to return to Libya and invest in the oil and gas sector as it tries to push production to 1.2 million bpd later this year. Es Sider and Ras Lanuf have a potential combined production capacity of about 600,000 bpd.


Lebanon's Hezbollah suspends official over Parliament spat

Updated 36 min 28 sec ago
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Lebanon's Hezbollah suspends official over Parliament spat

  • Musawi's comments violated a Hezbollah policy to avoid internal arguments with other groups
  • Earlier this week, Musawi did not attend the weekly meeting of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc

BEIRUT: Hezbollah's top commanding body suspended the political activities of a leading legislator because of his spat with rival politicians in Parliament last week, a Lebanese politician said Saturday.
Legislator Sami Gemayel, who heads the Christian Phalange party, said last week that Hezbollah's wide influence was seen when it got its ally elected president in 2016.
Hezbollah legislator Nawaf Musawi responded saying "it's an honor" for the Lebanese that President Michel Aoun came to his post alongside "the rifle of the resistance," a reference to the militant group, and "not on an Israeli tank."
Musawi's last reference was to late President-elect Bashir Gemayel who was assassinated in 1982 days after being elected during Israel's invasion of Lebanon.
Gemayel's son, Nadim, an MP, called Musawi's statements "unacceptable."
Two days later, the head of Hezbollah's 13-member bloc in parliament, Mohammed Raad, apologized during a meeting of the legislature saying that Musawi "crossed lines."
The politician who is familiar with Hezbollah's internal affairs spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hezbollah, said Musawi will be suspended from taking part in parliamentarian and the group's internal meetings for one year. He will also not be permitted to speak to the media, it said. The paper added that Musawi's comments violated a Hezbollah policy to avoid internal arguments with other groups.
Earlier this week, Musawi did not attend the weekly meeting of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc. He was also not present on the day that Raad issued his apology.