In Libya, the fighting for positions appears to be stalled, as both the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Libyan National Army (LNA) appear to be consolidating forces and potentially preparing for new hostilities.
The lull in fighting provides an opportunity for diplomacy.
A senior Turkish delegation headed by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived in Libya on the evening of June 17th.
It is there to hold talks with the GNA.
Cavusoglu was accompanied by Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan.
It would appear that having proven its capability in pushing Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces back, and Egypt apparently not entirely willing for a more assertive role in supporting the LNA, the time has come for Turkey to begin exploiting its agreements with the GNA to extract resources.
During the visit, the Turkish officials discussed the “latest developments in the crisis” in Libya and the “international efforts to resolve it” with Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA), according to a GNA statement.
The meeting also covered the “monitoring of the implementation of the military and security memorandum of understanding” concluded in November 2019 between Tripoli and Ankara, the statement added.
This is a great victory for Turkey, as Haftar has the conditional and very active support of Russia, Egypt and the UAE.
Ankara’s increase in military support led to a shift in the conflict’s front lines in recent weeks, as pro-GNA forces pushed back Haftar’s forces to Sirte, southeast of Tripoli.
Meanwhile, on the side of the EU, High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell urged the member states to increase support for operation Irini, which is attempting to enforce the UN embargo on weapon deliveries to Libya.
Speaking during a video conference, Josep Borrell urged EU defence ministers to “provide all necessary assets and intelligence in order to strengthen the operation”.
“We need navy and air assets,” he said.
Borrell said more than 30 ships have been checked since Irini became operational early last month, before adding: “But we can do more.”
After all, Turkish warships have blocked some ships from being checked, and it has largely continued moving military assets and equipment almost entirely undeterred.
The Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) attempted to restart oil production activities in the country’s south, as the Sharara oil field was put under GNA control, and it briefly did so.
On June 17th, NOC released a statement expressing its deep concern about the continued forced-closures of oil facilities, which negatively impacted the surface facilities, transport pipelines and crude oil tanks, which led to the collapse of one of the tanks in “Al-Sharara field”.
There are daily leaks from the pipes and the environment is being harmed.
“At this time the National Oil Corporation expresses its regret for the militarization of the oil facilities and making that public, it nevertheless continues to fulfill its responsibilities as specialized teams conduct many technical consultations, public safety requirements, process safety and implement precautionary measures in anticipation of any emergency, in coordination with partners and within the framework of informing the Libyan citizen who has the real direct interest in their oil capabilities, the experts from the National Oil Corporation and its partners concluded the need to empty all crude oil stocks, and also to provide storage capacities to store condensate associated with the produced gas and so that the gas production does not stop after a few days, the gas is used to generate Electrical energy to all regions of the country.”
NOC also called on all armed groups, LNA and GNA to leave the Sharara oil field so that normal operation can continue.
Oil revenues were massively reduced – the April 2020 revenue sits at $50 million, compared to the $1 billion in March 2020. In April 2019, when Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s operation on Tripoli began, the revenue from crude oil exports sat at $1.6 billion.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Number Of Syrians Killed Fighting For Turkey In Libya Exceeds 400: Monitoring Group
- Military Situation In Libya On June 17, 2020 (Map Update)