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A team of U.S. Navy Seals boarded an oil tanker near Cyprus late Sunday night, gaining control of the ship that had been seized by armed Libyans. The “Morning Glory” ship left Libya with illicit cargo – Libyan rebels have been trying to illegally sell oil from a port under its control. Navy Seals from the USS Roosevelt took control of the ship with helicopter support. “No one was hurt tonight when U.S. forces, at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments, boarded and took control of the commercial tanker Morning Glory, a stateless vessel seized earlier this month by three armed Libyans,” said DoD Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby. President Obama authorized the mission after 10 p.m. on March 16.
The ship will be returned to Libya, where it made headlines last week when the Libyan government threatened to sink it if it tried to leave with Libyan oil. The vessel had been flying under a North Korean flag, and docked at the As-Sidra port controlled by Libyan rebels. North Korea has denied that the ship was actually North Korean.
The government threatened to destroy the ship, but the Libyan military decided against such a move for fear of creating an environmental disaster. Instead the government wanted to blockade the ship, but it evaded seizure and left Libya, sailing into the Mediterranean. The events highlighted the weakness of the government in Tripoli and its inability to gain control over large swathes of territory.
The event led to the removal of the Prime Minster after a vote of no confidence. Former Prime Minister Ali Zeidani reportedly fled to Europe. The fledgling Libyan government and rebels in the eastern provinces have been locked in a months-long struggle over autonomy, which shows no signs of abating.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com