Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
Splitting the Libyan Spoils
Let’s get Libya out of the way first. It should not be necessary to mention this, and in general we find it inadvisable to comment on foreign policy issues brought up by the campaigning of Donald Trump; however, because the U.S. intelligence community has seen fit to respond, we will note only that the Islamic State (ISIS) is not known to be selling Libyan oil. It has not made it that far. There is also the question of what ISIS would actually do with a major oilfield. It can manage small ones, but does not have the capacity to run a big one. Right now, their tactic is to threaten the big fields in order to use that as leverage to throw a wrench in unity government negotiations.
Moving on to what’s really going on in Libya, control of the country’s oil reserves is indeed in question. ISIS is not the biggest threat in this respect. The eastern “government” in Tobruk is using its own branch of the Libyan National Oil Company (of Benghazi) to attempt to export oil unilaterally. It has in fact sent out its first cargo, bound for Malta; however, Malta is not allowing the cargo to dock and the UN has blacklisted the tanker carrying it. It’s since been ordered back to Libya, but it’s not going to offload its precious cargo without direct orders from the UN. The other Libyan government (the second of three) based in and controlling the capital, Tripoli, had…