Mafia, Guns And Clans: The Big Libyan Oil Heist


Mafia, Guns And Clans: The Big Libyan Oil Heist

By DamirKaletovic

Libya’s oil production problems extend far beyond whether the forces of Tripoli or Benghazi secure ultimate control over the country: Clan-based militias are running their own smuggling operations, and their mafia reach is said to extend as far as the Coast Guard—and even into Europe.

This smuggled oil is making its way into Europe, and Libya authorities say it has cost the state US$360 million so far, at a time when the country is producing only 715,000 barrels per day, down from its Ghaddafi heydays of 1.6 million bpd.

The post-Ghaddafi chaos has created some great business opportunities in both human trafficking and oil smuggling.

According to a stellar and rare (these days) piece of investigative reporting by Italian journalist Frecesca Mannocchi, the western coastal strip of Libya running from Zawya to Sabratha is a smuggler’s paradise, with the local police and coast guard complicit in lucrative oil smuggling activities.

Police told Mannocchi that oil is smuggled by ship from Sabratha to Malta and Sicily, en route to the Italian mainland.

The clans and their militias that control this strip of smuggling are said by locals to be the Hneesh and Dabbashi, who are allies when business is good, but can quickly become enemies in armed conflict.

Where these clans and their smuggling enter the bigger political chaos of Libya is through the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), which was—as its name might suggest—established to protect oil facilities.

Where its gets even bigger is that these clans, locals claim, are working under agreements with the Sicilian Mafia.

In early January, the PFG withdrew from the western Zawiya refinery after the Chairman of Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC), Mustafa Sanalla, accused the group Nasr brigade of using the refinery to run smuggling operations.

That the PFG removed itself from this part of the equation demonstrates the power that General Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA) are gaining rather quickly. Controlling Libya means controlling its oil wealth—and controlling its oil wealth means controlling the clan-style mafia from which the PFG is deriving part of its power.

It’s easier said than done—and there are fears that General Haftar, as he reins in the chaos, could turn into another Ghaddafi. There will be a price to pay for ‘stability’.

But we’re not there yet—and we won’t be until Libya can return to its pre-conflict production, which it cannot do until the same people who control the oilfields control the oil revenues.

This is where it gets tricky. While the LNA is in control of the oilfields right now and has wrested the ports that were being hijacked by the PFG, the oil money goes to the Central Bank of Libya, which is not on the same ‘side’ as the LNA.

Instead, the Central Bank is supported by the failed—or failing—Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which has been backed by the UN. As the PFG is a rival to the LNA, so too could be a new group that the GNA is toying with in the form of a Presidential Guard.

The oil won’t flow if the LNA thinks the money is being used to prop up an armed group that will fight against it.

But this situation is extremely dynamic, and this past week alone has seen some major developments. Tripoli is as intense as it gets right now, and the game is to see who can create the most fearful “guards” corps to ostensibly ‘protect’ the country’s assets from corruption.

On Thursday, forces aligned with Khalifa Gwell announced the creation of yet another guard—the Libyan National Guard (LNG), to “protect” institutions. Though they say they are not aligned with any tribe or political party, these are militia from Misrata, and they are already engaging in armed clashes with militias that support the GNA. In effect, they are trying to build a new army. This, in turn, seems to be pushing the GNA towards its rival, General Haftar.

Indeed, the GNA just announced that it and the Presidential Council—unable to assert control—would make some key changes to include Haftar among their ranks.

This is a game of alliances that shift faster than the news can keep up. As soon as one alliance is solidified, another militia ‘guard’ pops up to force a change. It’s definitely not the right time to try to get into Libyan oil. Nor is there any chance that Libyan oil is going to upset the global balance of supply and demand and scupper the OPEC/non-OPEC deal on production cuts.

It is against this backdrop that oil smuggling thrives, and will continue to thrive, and supermajor oil companies will have no choice but to pull up stakes or play the game, which means indirectly enabling smuggling activities. In these areas, it’s either ‘hire’ the clans for ‘protection’, or suffer the consequences, including kidnapping workers.

By Damir Kaletovic for Oilprice.com

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Winter in Tripoli with power cuts


Winter in Tripoli with power cuts

The cold season is here, and with the cold season comes some unpleasant things.
Flu seems to be taking the population by storm, everybody is forced to get it at least once *sniff, and I’m no exception.

Electricity, again!
Another sad phenomenon that comes with winter is long power cuts, it’s funny that an oil producing country isn’t able to provide electricity to power up the capital, but that’s how it is.
Notice how I said the capital and not the country, other cities don’t have this issue, it’s just Tripoli.

Which is very stupid – if I’m allowed to rant here- because Tripoli has all the services: Banks, ministries, and communication companies, which means that when you cut the power off of Tripoli, you are shooting yourself in the foot, basically.

It gets colder every year!
This winter is very cold, I know that every winter seems to be the coldest ever, but this one is really cold!
And the lack of electricity means the lack of heating and hot water! Actually water in general, because the pumps that are used to lift the water are electric.

“Alternative” ways to keep warm
I pity those who were forced to leave their homes in this cold due to the on going conflict in Libya, it’s a terrible time to be outside, and I can’t imagine how does it feel not to have a place to go to, a harsh reminder to always be grateful of what you have, amen!

With the lack of electricity we had to improvise, we pulled an old grill and turned it into a makeshift fireplace, or what we call in Libya a “Kannon”, it uses coal for warming up the place.

A makeshift fireplace, Kanoon.

Maybe thats the only good thing about the power cuts, having the families get together around the fire, the wind howling outside, telling old tales and sharing a good laugh as the fire clacks and hisses.

A fair warning tho, keeping the “Kannon” in a closed room may cause suffocation, and many people over the years died of carbon monoxide suffocation, how many died this year because of the cold and suffocation? Who knows? I know who to blame tho! #GECOL.

Sadly after writing this bit I learned that 7 people in the mountain city of Ghryan has been admitted to the hospital due to suffocation, and over 200 people with Pneumonia, seven of them who are seriously ill.
Lack of house insulation
Another thing I have in mind is house insulation, we don’t have that, at all! Our houses are just blocks of cement that is extremely hot in the summer (we had the temperature go up to 50 degrees last summer) and really cold in the winter; the exact opposite of insulation!
Which means that we need to use electric heaters to keep the house warm, and those things consume electricity like hell!

A popular beverage makes a heroic comeback!
On a lighter subject, a popular winter drink has found it’s way into our kitchen, powdered millet, known in Libya and many Arab countries as “Sahleb.

A glass of millet.

It’s a coffee like beverage made from: powdered millet, sugar, water and milk; served warm and it tastes very nice! It’s a good way to fight the cold.

Major hit to productivity
I am struggling to get things done, I’m yet to adapt to this lack of electricity arrangement, and trying to sync my sleep cycle with it failed badly!
So much for productivity, I feel like I went back to the 19 century (and watching Sherlock wherever we had power made this idea more plausible).
How am I supposed to get anything done on 7 hours of electricity a day, if these seven hours are the same hours I’m asleep at?
Final words
Here we are in Libya, surviving barely, struggling to make a living when everything seems to be standing against us, with no money or electricity; I am not sure how long this struggle is supposed to last, I’m positive that it won’t last very long (as if we can survive like this for much longer).

 

 

https://muaadelsharif.blogspot.gr/2017/01/winter-in-tripoli-with-power-cuts.html

Libya Tribes leader: Trump’s travel restrictions justified, terrorists using fake Libyan passports to enter U.S.


Libya Tribes leader: Trump’s travel restrictions justified, terrorists using fake Libyan passports to enter U.S.

ByHarrison Koehli
Sott.net

Passports of Syrian mercenaries who come to Libya to receive new identities.

In his first week in office, President Trump signed an order temporarily freezing immigration from seven Middle Eastern and North African countries, including Libya. According to Trump, the order’s purpose was to “keep America safe” by blocking groups of people who can not yet be properly vetted. Trump’s critics labeled the order a ‘Muslim ban’, deeming it unfair, mean-spirited, and racist. One recent editorial even criticizes Trump for playing up “the imaginary threat of terrorists” from the countries in question.

Now, after the U.S. court of appeals upheld federal judge Robart’s restraining order on the executive order, it appears that Trump plans to sign a new executive order before, or perhaps alternatively to, the appeal to the Supreme Court. But the question remains: is the executive order unreasonable? And is the terrorist threat ‘imaginary’?

Libyan tribal leader Sheikh Khaled Tantoush doesn’t think so. Sheikh Tantoush, a fierce critic of the jihadist movements and one of Libya’s most esteemed clerics, was captured by Libyan “rebels” in Sirte in 2011 along with Colonel Gaddafi. He performed the final Islamic rites over Gaddafi’s body after he was murdered, and the Sheikh himself was subsequently imprisoned and tortured. In a 2013 show trial he was sentenced to life in prison on trumped-up charges of “glorifying Gaddafi”, but was released last month after spending over five years in prison.

In his first interview with Western media since his release from rebel captivity, Sheikh Khaled told SOTT.net that the so-called Muslim ban is meaningless to the vast majority of ordinary Libyans, who find it difficult enough to move from city to city, let alone leave the country for the U.S. There is an extreme cash shortage in the country, and the only Libyans with the means to come to the U.S. are mostly criminals and terrorists. He said:

A small number [of Libyans] might travel to the USA for studying, but the others [who travel] are traitors who have been working for and are paid for by the US government. The majority of Libyans don’t care about this ban, because we are struggling to travel from one city to another in Libya… The real Libyans don’t care to travel to the USA. They care about finding a solution for Libya. This [travel ban] is a small thing for us.

Syrian President Assad gave a similar assessment of the ‘ban’ on Syrians, telling Yahoo News that it is “an American issue” and that his responsibility is simply to restore stability in his country, “in order to bring [the refugees] back”. When asked if he thought some of the refugees are aligned with terrorists, he replied, “Definitely.”

Passports for Al-Qaeda

James and JoAnne Moriarty, the only official American spokespersons of the tribes of Libya, say the problem in Libya is even worse. In 2011, al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood “rebels” took over all ministries of the Libyan government, including the passport office of the Libyan Interior Ministry in charge of Border Control and Strategic Institutions, which was put under the control of one Abdul Wahhab Hassan Qayed. Qayed’s brother was Abu Bakr Hassan Qayed (aka Abu Yahya al-Libi), a top-level al-Qaeda operative who was killed by U.S. drones in June of 2012.

 

The man in charge of the Libyan passport office after NATO’s invasion (right).

As JoAnne Moriarty put it, “Al Qaeda controlled the passport office right after the fall of Libya and was issuing Libyan passports to foreign mercenaries as fast as they came across the border.” For example, back in February 2014, the Libyans caught five spies from Qatar carrying fraudulent Libyan passports (including Qatari intelligence officer Abdel-Hadi Saleh Al-Rushaydi, Faraj Saleh Al-Mansour Jatlawi, and Ali Al-Mohamad Sadeq-Obaidi). The spies told Libyan authorities that the passports were provided to them by the CIA during NATO’s war on Libya in 2011 (see this article for pictures and a video of their arrest).

A fake Libyan passport provided to al-Qaeda-linked terrorist Abdelhakim Belhadj, created 26 May 2011, 3 months after the start of the war, 2 months after his release from Libyan prison.

Belhadj’s fake passport, made out in the name of “Salem Al Elwani”. Notice the occupation: “Free Trade.”

 

Another fake Libyan passport (Left) provided to an Egyptian mercenary (Ahmed Salh Amwer Salh). On the right is his Egyptian passport. Caption says: “Picture of Egyptian terrorist sent from Dorna with a fake Libyan passport to bomb an Arab airport. The passport number sequence was stolen from Tripoli but wasn’t issued by any recognized Libyan department.”

This identity-laundering scheme in Libya – where an untold number, likely in the thousands, of jihadi mercenaries exchanged their old ‘terrorist’ identities for fresh post-Gaddafi Libyan ones – became so bad that Morocco had to introduce a visa requirement for Libya due to the prevalence of fraudulent passports. In one month alone the Moroccans caught 285 foreigners carrying Libyan passports – from Pakistan, Chechnya, Mozambique, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The Moriartys told SOTT.net that the Libyan rebels used their control of the passport office not only to issue fake identities and passports to their fellow terrorists, but also to distribute funds to them, providing millions of dollars to English-speaking fighters sent to the U.S., where they were routinely passed through immigration and were given green cards or multiple-entry visas, at a rate of 100 to 1,000 per month:

“The rate [of entries into the United States] was 100 a month, moving up to 1,000 a month. They have been processing people through Libya since October of 2011 into the United States. They’ve been doing the same thing into France, same thing into Germany.”

James Moriarty went on to say that he has spoken to a pilot who flew out of Syria (now deceased), who told the Moriartys that he was part of caravan of three 747s that “picked up over 700 men each in Syria and flew them to the United States”, to an airport in New York. The pilots were then “required to sign a 21-page non-disclosure agreement that included guaranteed jail-time if they ever spoke about it.” This pilot told the Moriartys that upon landing, U.S. government officials gave these men passports and “buckets of money”.

The Moriartys hope that this information about the prevalence of Libyan passports provided to terrorists will influence the U.S. government to stop this from happening. At the very least, officials need to vet everyone who has traveled into the States from Libya since 2011. As for those who continue to come, the Libyan tribes have extended an offer to President Trump to cooperate with American officials.They know who most of these people are because they became notorious in Libya over the last six years of causing bloody mayhem there.

Libyan Tribes Endorse Trump, Want To Work Together

In March of 2016, the Tribal Leaders of Libya officially endorsed Trump for the office of President of the USA. In their message to Trump on behalf of the Tribes, the Moriartys wrote:

“The people of Libya reiterate their pledge to eliminate all the radical Islamists in Libya as soon as the U.S. stops support of these entities in their country. Thereafter, the Great Tribes of Libya have pledged to go country-to-country joining hands with other Tribes of the Middle east, and you as President of the United States, to eliminate radical Islam worldwide.”

As the Moriartys told SOTT.net on 12 February, this offer still stands. The Tribes are the only Libyans who know who’s who in Libya. As such, they are willing and able to work with the Americans to vet any individuals entering the United States from Libya, or carrying Libyan papers.

The Tribal Leaders are the only legitimate representatives of Libya’s approximately 6 million citizens. These ordinary Libyans, who make up 95+% of the Libyan population, have suffered for six years under the rule of violent jihadist groups like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Ansar al-Sharia, Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS, all of whom were shepherded into the country by Western government agents and their clients in the Middle East. They are natural allies in the fight against the jihadists – not the illegitimate “governments” set up by the terrorists and their supporters.

Libya Since 2011 NATO War: A Failed Quasi-State


Libya Since 2011 NATO War: A Failed Quasi-State

By: Alessandra Bajec

A child runs past graffiti at the old city in Tripoli. | Photo: Reuters

Libya currently has no single, central government, there is no security, oil revenues have halved, and weapons flow out of the country.
In the 6th year since the NATO-led intervention in Libya resulted in the toppling of long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi, the North African country has descended into a noticeably worse position amid political chaos and a growing extremist threat.

Libya currently has no single government or central authority which controls the whole nation, there is no security, oil revenues have halved, and weapons flow out of the country. Libya is torn apart by a civil war between rival militias which has been raging since 2014, after the internationally-recognized government relocated to Tobruk in the east, with General Khalifa Haftar as top commander of the armed forces, and Libya Dawn – an Islamist-dominated coalition – set up a rival government, known as the new General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.

By the end of February, hopes for peace vanished again after members of the parliament in Tobruk were reportedly “prevented” from voting on the make-up of a new unity government under a U.N.-backed plan aimed at bringing together Libya’s warring factions, which they said they supported. Since it was signed by some elements of the two opposing groups on Dec. 17, 2015, in Morocco, the U.N. plan has been opposed by hard-liners on both sides and suffered repeated delays.

WATCH: Remembering the 2011 NATO Bombing of Libya

https://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/player/363493/remembering-the-2011-nato-bombing-of-libya/?aspectratio=auto

Not even the logic of a power-sharing agreement has worked, said Dr. Khaled Hanafy Aly, a researcher in African affairs at Al-Ahram Center, referring to the peace deal that followed other U.N.-mediated efforts at creating a Government of National Agreement (GNA).

According to Karim Mezran, resident senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, there are a few thousand militias fighting each other, each linked with some political attache. “Fragmentation” is the first word that comes into his mind to define the situation in Libya. The senior fellow described the country’s political outlook by first noting that in the east, while the majority within the parliament backs the U.N. accord, other lawmakers alongside powerful army chief General Haftar oppose the deal.

“A large number of parliamentarians in Tobruk would be happy to have the unity cabinet, but Gen. Haftar keeps pushing for a military solution, not a political one,” said Mezran, who is also professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “Haftar and his allies are the strongest voices, and they’re the ones who can spoil the agreement,” he added.

In the west, the head and members of the rival Tripoli-based GNC also oppose the deal. Its affiliated government, led by Prime Minister Khalifa al-Ghweil, has no intention of relinquishing power to the new GNA, as the Middle East fellow hinted.

To add to this, a third government led by Faiz Siraj hangs over the two rival administrations, which has the backing of Western powers. However, it is not recognized by any of the major powers inside Libya, and the international community looks paralyzed on what to do.

“The problem is not only the multiplicity of governments but the impasse in which conflicting interests make the existence of a central government difficult,” Dr. Aly stated.

WATCH: Hillary Clinton’s Involvement in Libya’s Turmoil

https://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/player/522814/hillary-clintons-involvement-in-libyas-turmoil/?aspectratio=auto

In the midst is the Islamic State group, which has capitalized on the power and security vacuum to set a foothold in Libya by establishing its presence around the central coastal city of Sirte, hometown of former Libyan leader Gadhafi. The extremist group has briefly seized territory in Sabratha, between Tripoli and the Tunisian border, and threatens to destroy what’s left of the country.

For Aly, the Islamic State group merely feeds on the east-west divisions without which it would be doomed to failure. He believes social and tribal grievances on the ground need to be addressed properly in order to prevent and stop affiliation of local militants with the group.

Yet, with media reports giving inflated numbers of Libyan fighters who have fallen to Islamic State group ranks, joined by foreign jihadists coming from Tunisia, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan and elsewhere, the group’s strength in Libya has been somewhat overestimated.

In Mezran’s view, the Islamic State group threatens more that territorial gain; it intends to completely destabilize Africa’s oil rich state. “It’s by no means territorial expansion in Libya,” he argued. “ISIS’ (Islamic State Group) strategy there is to have a base where from it launches sporadic attacks to hit oil fields and Libyan cities like Tripoli and Benghazi.”

The professor specified that the Islamic State group aims to destroy, not conquer, Libya’s oil facilities so as to prevent any possibility for a recognized government to draw from the oil industry, the key pillar of Libya’s economy, as well as reconstitute a state army and rebuild the country.

Libya’s oil production has collapsed to around 20 percent of its 2011 level. The country is at its most critical juncture since the overthrow of the Gadhafi regime with Central Bank reserves dwindling. Caught in the instability, the average Libyan has to put up with increased prices, lengthy fuel and power cuts and medicine shortages.

Libya is largely a quasi-failed state. “It’s not one big mess, it’s a whole set of many messes,” Rafik Hariri Center fellow observed. “There are institutions functioning in certain areas, then it’s total anarchy in other parts of the country.”

Libya has also turned into a battleground for foreign powers, with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, the UAE, giving open military backing to Haftar’s armed forces while Turkey, Qatar and Sudan are believed to have helped arm the Libya Dawn forces in Misrata.

 

For their part, Western governments, namely the U.S., Germany, the U.K., France and Italy have been considering direct military intervention against the Islamic State group in Libya. The new unity government, which Washington and its European allies are pushing to ratify, would effectively have the authority to call in international support, paving the way for a new NATO-led military intervention in Libya under the pretext of combating the Islamic State group.

“The West bears responsibility for today’s Libyan crisis,” the Al-Ahram Center researcher pointed out. “Failing to secure the country after Gadhafi’s death and disarm militias has turned Libya into a lawless state.”

Dr. Aly maintained that Libya today poses a threat to regional security. In his opinion, nonetheless, another foreign intervention will attract many risks for two main reasons. The Libyan elite does not seem keen on inviting foreign military forces. Second, an international operation may create more problems than intended and could lead to an even more complex scenario.

Mezran thinks the Libyan crisis needs to be resolved before fighting the Islamic State group, which, he feels, should not be overblown as “the issue.” “If [the] Western approach is just to hit ISIS (Islamic State Group) and forget what goes on in Libya, they’re trying to kill an octopus,” the senior researcher noted.

Five years after the NATO intervention in Libya, which has created a genuine disaster, another intervention is being prepared against the North African state. Whether that will materialize or not, failure to achieve political unity with an inclusive, participatory approach, could risk turning Libya into a failed state in future.

European internal report paints a pessimistic picture of the security situation in Libya


by Ali Oouhadh

Approved an internal report prepared by the mission «Iobam» border management in Libya, the difficulty of establishing the European Union at this stage practical cooperation with Libya in the field of border control mechanism to support and enhance the security and judicial organs capabilities in the country.

Mission «Iobam» is the security team, which the European Union plans to publish in Libya for more than two years, but without being able to do so for security reasons, and forcing supervisors to resort to the concentration in Tunisia.

The deployment of the router to the External Action Service, which is supervised by the Italian report, Federica Mogherini, in Brussels, at a time when questions mount about the credibility of the European Union followed the option so far in the preview of the Libyan crisis, and in identifying interlocutors on the ground in the area of immigration dilemma management, which a matter of primary concern in Brussels.

The EU announced the beginning of this year allocated 200 million euros to help Libya cope with security problems, and the collapse of living standards of the population, but European sources reported that they do not have a process on how to dispose of these funds plan because of the absence addressee Lippi is able to manage any plan or specific project Currently.

He says Europeans who held almost a year since the position of the supporter of the Presidential Council, led by winner OS at the expense of all other objects that they currently face difficulty in the implementation of any move to help this Council. And suffers the Presidential Council, according to diplomats, the limited ability to move and the absence of a political sidelines him in the country and the lack of a strong military base is based.

Interior Ministry controlled by militias

EU report says trading is limited and that the Libyan situation is controlled by Mottagazbh the conflicting parties did not have the security, judicial, administrative and customs devices that live up to such a definition. The report spoke about the spread of the militia in 1500 at least in Libya, as well as the control of the militias on the majority of the security forces in Tripoli, as well as the absence of a judicial system has the authority, and to his lack of intelligence service works.

The report also says that the Ministry of Interior in Libya controlled by militias, religious extremist trends and that the Department of Defense does not have any control over the armed forces and the dominance of the militias on human smuggling operations.

This is the first time that the EU experts acknowledge the arrival of the situation in Libya to that level of decline and the difficulty of handling security missions and immigration experts and specialists in various devices with the warring Libyan parties rehabilitation. EU experts believe that the various elements of the police in Tripoli itself belong to the armed organizations were Hrantha.

And touches this assertion concerns registered with many European parties on the affiliations of the items that are planned to qualify either «NATO» or the European Union and the uncertainty of the actual body that show loyalty to them in the end.

It recommended the European report, explicitly, that he can not deal only with parties own actual and legitimate subject of accounting and get the lowest standards and controls of public administration. He considered it necessary to deal with the legitimate authorities have the control over the country’s various institutions.

The letting leaked internal report on Libya by the external work in Brussels service as an indication of a trend to review the European Union options to several factors, the most important is undoubtedly ready for a possible change in US President Donald Trump’s management direction of the Libyan matter the position, as well as in anticipation of what the outcome of the Egyptian telecom Algerian – Tunisian as well as beginning to assess the rapprochement between Russia and the east of the country, which now for the first time officially go on the oil sector.

The monitors record that the United Nations Mission in Libya itself has become reflect the positions warns of collapse of the Libyan situation, especially the population living in the west of the country and the difficulty of reaching understandings out of the crisis because of the intransigence of the militias.

Quoting the center gate