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The eastern Libyan government based in Tobruk has accused Qatar of aiding the militant groups that tried to take over the country’s oil ports last month, Sputnik reports, citing Libyan media.
The clashes between the Benghazi Defense Brigades, the Petroleum Facilities Guard and the Libyan National Army ended with victory for the LNA, which then proceeded to hand control of the ports to the eastern-based National Oil Corporation.
This has effectively suspended oil shipments from the Oil Crescent and almost all production in the country, according to information from the western-based NOC, which is the entity recognized by the UN as the only one that can legally sell Libyan crude.
Interestingly enough, the last time the LNA wrested control of the Oil Crescent from the Petroleum Facilities Guard, in 2016, it passed it on to the legal NOC. Afterwards, the two NOCs tried to work together for a while, but the attempt fell through. Now, the group is back in line with the Tobruk-based government, it seems.
The eastern Libyan government, which, like the eastern NOC, is not recognized internationally as being legal, last year joined the Saudi Arabia-led group of countries that imposed a blockade on Qatar on allegations of aiding terrorist groups and being too friendly with Iran. The blockade has not had any palpable effect on Qatar.
Related: OPEC Losing Control After Libya Outages
War-torn Libya has, like most other countries in the same position, become the theater of a proxy war between Arab states, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and other Gulf states surprisingly backing the eastern government and the Libyan National Army, while Qatar and Turkey have supported Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the General National Congress.
A Newsweek analysis from 2017 cites media reports about Qatar supplying substantial amounts of weapons to Islamist groups in Libya and providing, since 2011, more than US$89 million to these groups, some of which are affiliates of Al-Qaeda.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.