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‘Rebel’ General Nears Capital, Libyan Oil Fate Up in the Air

General Haftar

The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by a rogue general coming from the country’s east, is reportedly marching towards the capital, Tripoli, with an eye to ‘liberating’ it from the hands of the emerging Government of National Accord (GNA), according to local media reports.

The LNA, and General Khalifa Haftar were said by late last night to be only 10 kilometers outside of Tripoli, with eastern officials warning that they would make their move soon, the Libya Herald reported.

The warning came from LNA Chief of Staff Abdul Razak al-Nazhuri, General Haftar’s top aide.

The warning was apparently first issued in a tweet by al-Nazhuri on Tuesday, saying: “Our forces are 10km away from Tripoli, liberating it is very soon.”

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The LNA forces are based in Zintan and in alignment with the Zintan militias. At the same time, these forces—who set up government in Libya’s east, have been sidelined in the creation of the new GNA and are now seeking to secure their share of power, all of which hinges on Libya’s oil wealth.

General Haftar has been instrumental in fighting back Islamic militias, including Ansar al-Sharia and, more recently, the Islamic State (ISIS).

The general sentiment is that Haftar and his forces are moving closer to Tripoli in an attempt to demonstrate that the GNA does not have control over all of Libya’s west.

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General Haftar and those loyal to him, stand against GNA-appointed ministers who are aligned with the Islamists and against whom the general and allied militias fought in Benghazi. These same GNA members, they hold, have been supplying ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia.

Last week, Libya resumed exports from its eastern Hariga port after rival governments agreed to a temporary deal in the ongoing power-sharing dispute.

The reopening of the Hariga port has allowed Libya to increase crude production to over 300,000 barrels per day. Exports from the Hariga port resumed on 19 May. Production is now expected to increase to up to 360,000 bpd ‘soon’, according to the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC), speaking to reporters on Monday.

By James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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