East Libyan Forces Recapture Oil Export Terminals

No Deal Yet on Which Government Will Operate Them

by Jason Ditz, March 14, 2017

East Libyan forces loyal to Gen. Khalifa Hifter announced today that they have recaptured a pair of important oil export terminals at Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra, expelling the Islamist forces linked to the Benghazi rebellion from the area after over a week of fighting.

Fighting has been ongoing for months over the terminals, with Hifter’s forces initially seizing it from the remnants of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), a group which is loyal to the “unity government” based in Tripoli. The PFG has dispatched most of its forces to attack Sirte, leaving the sites exposed.

The US has loudly complained about Hifter taking the oil terminals, insisting they rightly belong to the unity government, though the unity government forces appear to have no realistic chance of taking it back, and aren’t even really in the mix.

Negotiations are still a possibility, however, and the Tobruk Parliament, who Hifter is backing, says no decisions have yet been made on exactly how the oil operations will be run now that the sites are reclaimed from the Islamists, and that so far they are only inspecting the sites for any potential damage.

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