Libyan armed faction leader told to pullout from two oil terminals

The NOC said in a statement that storage tank 12 in Ras Lanuf had been significantly damaged. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 June 2018
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Libyan armed faction leader told to pullout from two oil terminals

  • Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) allowed the NOC to reopen the ports after a long blockade by Jadhran
  • Jadhran has kept a low profile since 2016, but appeared in a video on social media, saying he had formed a coalition to take over the oil sites

BENGHAZI: Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) called on Saturday for the “unconditional and immediate” withdrawal of the armed faction under former oil port blockader Ibrahim Jadhran from the two major terminals of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider.
The NOC said in a statement that storage tank 12 in Ras Lanuf had been “significantly damaged” in fighting on Thursday, when armed forces linked to Jadhran stormed the two ports, causing them to close.
“NOC calls for the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of the militia operating under Ibrahim Jathran to prevent an environmental disaster and further destruction of key infrastructure,” the statement said.
“Further damage to these sites could have a huge impact on the Libyan oil sector and the national economy.”
Rival political authorities and militias have been vying for control of territory and Libya’s oil wealth since the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed President Muammar Qaddafi.
Haftar’s forces on Friday launched airstrikes against the rival militia targeting key oil facilities in the east of the country, a spokesman for his group said.
Jadhran had controlled terminals in Libya’s oil crescent for several years before losing control of them in September 2016 to forces under Khalifa Haftar, the dominant figure in eastern Libya.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) allowed the NOC to reopen the ports after a long blockade by Jadhran that cost Libya tens of billions of dollars in lost exports.
Jadhran has kept a low profile since 2016, but appeared in a video on social media on Thursday, saying he had formed a coalition to take over the oil sites.
He said he was launching a campaign to recapture the ports in order to “overturn the injustice” that he said had been imposed on people in the area by the LNA over the past two years.
The NOC declared force majeure in Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, announcing an initial production loss of 240,000 barrels per day (bpd), which it said was expected to rise to 400,000 bpd if the ports stayed shut.
It said it had evacuated staff “due to armed clashes in the area.”


Wit and grit: Algeria's sizeable youth lead fight for change

Updated 18 min 9 sec ago
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Wit and grit: Algeria's sizeable youth lead fight for change

  • More than half of Algeria’s population are under 30
  • Young protesters say they are able to receive diplomas but unable to find jobs

ALGIERS: They’re on the peaceful front line of the protest movement that toppled Algeria’s longtime ruler, facing down water cannons with attitude, memes — and fearless calls for shampoo.
Oil-rich Algeria is one of the most youthful countries in the world with two-thirds of the population under 30.
They are politically engaged, educated, on social media and funny. And they initiated nationwide protests in mid-February that toppled the only leader they’ve ever known — former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999.
“Only Chanel does No. 5,” read the placard of a young Algerian protesting against Bouteflika’s failed bid for a fifth term. “Love the Way You Lie,” read another, referencing Rihanna’s hit song. Yet another, featuring the “Ghostbusters” movie poster, was a humorous rebuke to the infirm 82-year-old who’s rarely been seen since a 2013 stroke. And when police unfurl the water cannons, they start to sing in rhyming Arabic: “Bring me some shampoo and I’ll feel good!“
A quarter of these under-30s are out of work, creating a deep well of frustration against the North African country’s veteran rulers and the policies that have left them behind.
“I came to protest against this power structure because we, the young people, we are the main victims,” said Belkacem Canna, who just turned 30, and works for the local water company on what he described as a miserable salary. “We get diplomas but can’t get jobs.”
For two decades, Algeria has been ruled by Bouteflika and other survivors of the 1954-1962 War of Independence against colonial power France.
“Algeria’s leaders have one foot in the War of Independence and the other foot in the post-colonial period. This is a generational problem. Algeria is a gerontocracy that can’t represent the country’s majority,” said Rachid Tlemcani, political scientist at Algiers University.
Bouteflika had for years used Algeria’s oil and gas wealth to fund affordable homes and handouts. The country escaped the Arab Spring uprisings that began in Tunisia in 2010. But tensions began simmering after oil prices slumped in 2014, exposing a country blighted by youth unemployment where more than one person in four aged under 30 doesn’t have a job.
Over a decade ago, Bouteflika’s government made a half-baked attempt at helping the country’s youth by creating a funding initiative for young entrepreneurs. However, it only stoked further anger amid perceptions it was a handout scheme, after borrowers who didn’t repay debts faced no consequences.
“Mentalities have to change,” said Imad Touji, a 22-year-old geology student at Bab Ezzouar University. “It’s not just about going out and shouting. We really need to change things in a concrete way.”
In February, it was clear that many Algerians were aghast at their plight.
Many trapped at home with their parents and with seemingly little to lose, took to the streets some ten days after Bouteflika announced he would seek a fifth term. Students and professionals such as doctors, lawyers and magistrates all joined in.
Bouteflika’s replacement, the 77-year-old Abdelkader Bensalah, is yet another veteran of the War of Independence. It’s an open question if fresh presidential elections announced for July 4, will appease the vociferous movement.
“We are raising awareness, all the youth is,” said Sofiane Smain, a 23-year-old computing student. “We are trying to make all the Algerian people follow us so we can be unified to make a better Algeria, God willing.”
Social media instructions told protesters to come equipped only with “love, faith, Algerian flags and roses,” and to remove trash. In a poignant detail, many of them were observed cleaning up.
“Algeria’s youth are an example to the world of what a smiling and peaceful protest movement can achieve,” Tlemcani said.
Though the protests have been largely judged to have been peaceful, they have claimed their first casualty. On Friday, an unemployed 19-year-old from a town south of Algiers was buried. Police say he died after falling from a truck, while his friends say he was beaten by police with truncheons.