Why are Russian armed groups blocking oil exports to Libya

“Moscow was counting on a military victory in Libya. However, the offensive on the capital failed. Now the Kremlin wants to achieve its military goals with the help of an oil blockade – to spite the United States,” the Swiss newspaper writes. The New Zurich Times.

“Oil can also be a weapon,” says journalist Christian Weisflog. “This is now clearly demonstrated in Libya by Russia and the United Arab Emirates. General Khalifa Haftar, supported by them, has conquered almost the entire country in recent years and has increasingly surrounded the capital of Tripoli in the west. So the oil infrastructure of Libya came under the control of Haftar. Since January, his troops have blocked the production and export of black gold. Libya’s oil production has dropped sharply from 1.2 million to 100 thousand barrels per day. ”

“Oil revenues are unfairly distributed – this is how Haftar and his foreign allies justify their blockade. In addition, the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, they say, finances with the proceeds from the sale of oil, militants and terrorists.”

Tim Eaton of think tank Chatham House doubts that for Haftar and his allies this is really about a fairer and more transparent distribution of oil revenues. “The implementation of the blockade two days before the Berlin conference in January indicates that it should serve as a political means of pressure for negotiations,” the expert said.

“Anas al-Gomati, an expert on Libya, shares a similar opinion:” We are talking about access to wealth and power. “According to him, already in 2015, an attempt was made to create a parallel oil company in the east and accounts for income in the Emirates. failed under US pressure. “Or do you really believe that Russia is interested in a fairer distribution of oil revenues in Libya?”

“After the troops of the Government of National Accord took control of the Ash-Sharara field in the south-west, production was gradually restarted in June. (…) But soon the Russian armed formations of the infamous Wagner Group took control of Ash -Shararu and El Sider. Since then, the oil blockade, due to which the Libyan state lost $ 6 billion in revenue in the first half of the year, continues, “the article says.

“In addition, in order to prevent further advance towards the” oil crescent “of armed groups associated with the Government of National Accord, east of Sirte, Moscow transferred combat aircraft to the Libyan airbases of Al-Jufra and Al-Khadim. At the same time, after its defeat in Tripoli, Haftar no longer plays any role, Al-Gomati said: “Russia and the UAE have their own ground troops, as well as drones and warplanes in the air.” Haftar, in his opinion, is only needed to give the operations a Libyan look. ”

“(…) If, as a result of the oil blockade, Tripoli does not soften its positions, Russia and the Emirates can also set themselves the goal of splitting the country. According to the principle:” If we cannot defeat you, then we leave you, “said al- Gomachi “.

In recent years, several parallel government structures have already emerged in the east of the country, but their financial situation is unfavorable. “It is not surprising that parallel state institutions want to gain access to hard currency from the oil business as soon as possible. (…) But whether the oil blockade is a suitable means of pressure to gain access to additional billions is questionable,” writes Neue Zürcher Zeitung. – After all, in a financial sense, the advantage is now on the side of Tripoli, Eaton believes. “The central bank in the capital still has sufficient foreign exchange reserves,” the expert notes.


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