As soon as Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced the decision to resume the production and export of oil, divisions began to appear among the members of the Government of National Accord (GNA) regarding this decision, as it seems to have bothered some within the GNA, especially after the agreement was made with GNA Presidential Council Vice Chairman Ahmed Maiteeq, which prompted circles close to GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj to announce their opposition.
For his part, GNA Defense Minister Salah Eddine al-Namrush expressed his rejection of the agreement to resume oil production and export. He added in a statement published by the ministry, “The crimes committed in Libya will not be forgotten, and we have evidence condemning the interfering countries in Libya. A complaint will be lodged with the United Nations through an integrated file in this regard.”
Meanwhile, the head of the Brotherhood-affiliated Justice and Construction Party (JCP), Mohammed Sawan, also criticized the agreement, considering that “the arrangements that took place in the past two days to announce the settlement and pass suspicious agreements carries with it individual ambitions and a violation of legitimacy and the responsible parties, which is an ill-considered adventure that lacks the minimum ingredients for success.”
Sawan said in a statement that “the serious and important issues mentioned in the memorandum of understanding related to the state’s capabilities, the budget, its distribution, the formation of a committee with the powers of the government, and the settlement of serious financial files pending without the slightest arrangement and approval of the responsible official bodies or even consultation with the main parties or prior arrangement for implementation indicates the absence of the basics of political and rational action. It does not allow any chance for success and further complicates the crisis.”
He implicitly called for the observance of what he described as “Turkey’s rights in Libya,” claiming that his party “is seeking solid arrangements that take into account the interests of Libya’s partner countries in the geostrategic field.”
In a related development, Khaled al-Mishri, head of the Brotherhood-backed Supreme Council of State, announced his rejection of the agreement to produce and export Libyan oil. He said in a letter he addressed to Sarraj and the members of the Presidential Council that “the agreement erased the Skhirat Agreement signed in 2015.” He considered it an “assault on the jurisdiction of the legitimate authorities” and called for an “urgent investigation” to be opened.
On the other hand, the Brotherhood’s Mustafa Sanallah, head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC), announced on Saturday, September 20, what he called “the lifting of the status of force majeure” from the oil fields and ports, claiming that he will work with complete “transparency” under the direction of the executive authority regarding the disposition of new revenue.
Sanallah claimed that his main concern is to start production and exports, taking into account the safety of workers and operations, as well as preventing any attempts to politicize the national oil sector. “The National Oil Corporation fulfills its technical and non-political mission to resume operations in safe areas, and a technical evaluation is underway in preparation for the commencement of production and exports.”
Meanwhile, GNA Culture Minister Hassan Onis expressed his support for the agreement, going even further by saying that it is preserving the lives of Libyans.
As for the militias, they explicitly rejected the agreement, as one of the militia leaders stationed in the western region, Osama al-Juwaili, came out to announce his opposition to the agreement.
The agreement was also rejected by a number of other militia leaders in Tripoli, which reflects congruence in positions between Sarraj and the armed militias. According to LNA spokesman Major General Ahmed al-Mesmari, the reason is that this agreement will affect the gains that the militias have achieved through their control of state institutions.
It seems that Sarraj and the Turkish-backed militias want to thwart any solution in Libya, especially since the decision will lead to a fair distribution of Libya’s wealth among all its citizens and will prevent revenues from being used to support terrorism, which the militias do not like.
On Friday, September 18, Haftar and Maiteeq announced an agreement to resume oil production after about 250 days of closure, which had inflicted heavy losses on the country.
Libya has enormous oil wealth, ranking fifth in the Arab world in terms of oil reserves. Oil represents about 95% of the country’s total revenues, and last year its revenues exceeded $22 billion.
Libya has lost about $9.6 billion in oil revenues since January 18, according to the latest data from the NOC.