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Trump Extends National Emergency with Respect to Libya

Trump Extends National Emergency with Respect to Libya

Thursday, 21 February, 2019 - 10:00
Pipes are pictured at the El Sharara oilfield December 3, 2014. (File Photo: Reuters)
Cairo - Khalid Mahmoud

US President Donald Trump has extended the national emergency with respect to Libya declared in 2011 till after February 25, 2019, in a letter sent to Congress.

The letter, published by the White House website, indicated that the foregoing circumstances, the prolonged attacks against civilians, and the increased numbers of Libyans seeking refuge in other countries caused a deterioration in the security of Libya and posed a serious risk to its stability.

“The situation in Libya continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and measures are needed to protect against the diversion of assets or other abuses by members of Gaddafi’s family, their associates, and other persons hindering Libyan national reconciliation.”

Meanwhile, the eastern-based commander of the state Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG), Naji al-Maghrabi, announced the implementation of the plan to secure el-Sharara oilfield after taking its control from army forces in a bid to encourage state oil firm National Oil Company (NOC) to restart production that has been halted since December.

He asserted that PFG members are keen on adhering to Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar’s instructions in coordinating with the oilfield’s officials.

The PFG commander indicated that his guards had been appointed to secure Sharara oilfield, adding that the facility was very secure and that the NOC should resume work.

“We call on NOC to lift the force majeure,” said Maghrabi.

NOC, chaired by Mustafa Sanallah in the west of Libya where the internationally recognized government is based, has said it will not reopen the field without a new security arrangement and once other conditions are met, such as ensuring its workers are safe.

“NOC has sent an inspection team to assess security at Sharara and to verify that all armed militia have left the field prior to force majeure being lifted,” a spokesman said by text message sent to Reuters.

The field, which had been producing about 315,000 barrels per day (bpd), was closed after a group of state guards and tribesmen seized it, making financial and other demand. NOC declared force majeure, a waiver on its contracts.

In related news, LNA forces increased their military presence south of the country, where the 73rd Infantry Brigade relocated three military battalions to support the forces in their fight against terrorist groups and criminal gangs.

Military sources said that the army was preparing to launch an attack on Merzek town, where there is a combination of Chadian opposition groups, extremist militias affiliated with what was known as the “Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries” and similar militias led by Ibrahim al-Jadran, former oilfield commander of the central region.

Commander of the southern force Hasan Moussa said in a televised statement that the situation is relatively calm in Merzek, following air strikes targeting three different locations that killed one person and injured two others.

LNA jets have raided various outposts of extremists and Chadian groups in Merzek and Um al-Aranab, some 240 km south of the southern Libyan city of Sabha.

LNA spokesman Brigadier Ahmed al-Mismari announced that his forces have taken full control of all the airports and oil fields in the south, pointing out that there is coordination with all neighboring countries regarding the military offensive in the area.

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