By: Obeid Al-Rageeg*
After the downfall of Gaddafi’s regime, the disintegration of the
nation’s security structure, the collapse of the legal system and the chaotic nature of the country, with multiple governments unable to maintain Libya’s security. A few took advantage of the situation, formed brigades and headed towards Libya’s oil sources under the pretext of protecting them when in reality they were benefiting from the money profited, not to mention the other advantages and privileges obtained from pressuring other groups and enforcing their agenda. Which is what Zintan Brigades did; they were stationed near the oil fields in the west and south of Libya, while the other battalions led by Jadhran tightened their grip over oil fields and ports in the eastern region, “the oil crescent”.
Initially, when funds were available, governments turned a blind eye to the situation. In fact, they protected them and bowed to their demands, provided them with money in the form of salaries, grants, and bonuses; they appointed a large number of soldiers belonging to those brigades without taking into account any specific standards. As soon as the political dispute occurred the whole process was impacted heavily, this did not please Jadhran.
He pressured the government and blackmailed them by deciding not to export oil and disable the entire operation in the Crescent, claiming the equipment was damaged and insufficient while he illegally sold oil elsewhere.
This issue led to a decline in Libyan oil exports and a decrease in revenue; the governments were unable to cover the expenses of the state, this resulted in negations with Jadhran and suspicious deals were made, in particular with a member of the National Congress, the facts were later revealed. The political divide in Libya has unfortunately worsened; the existence of three governments has made the situation even more complicated and slowed down re-exportation procedures. Jadhran and his militias continue to control oil sources and have denied the Libyan people their only source of livelihood for the past two years.
Upon the political divide, Zintan Brigades followed down the same route and stopped oil exportation from the fields they controlled in the South and West. It shut down the only oil pipeline that transports oil from the South and West to the Northern ports, and happens to pass by Zintan, as a reaction to what Jadhran did on one hand, and to try and pressure the government of Tripoli on the other. The pipeline remains locked.
The important question now is, how long will Jadhran and Zintan stay in control of Libya’s main source of revenue? Should not all Libyans agree on the importance of protecting their only source of wealth? Create a unified task force which represents all Libyans and does not fall under any authority but the Libyans, a task force that is assigned to protect these sites and secure them, at least until the government can impose its authority? Some might say that these militias and brigades protected the oil fields in the past and should not be removed, to that I say, they were paid to do so, they received salaries and grants, it wasn’t for free. But for the situation to escalate and reach its current state is just appalling and humiliating.
In all the self-respected states, primary sources of wealth are considered holy, preserved and safeguarded under the constitution, according to a system of values and rules that people abide by. Therefore compromising national resources in any way by anyone is met with legal repercussions, all for protecting the nation and the public’s interests. Will Libyans ever realize this? Or will fear have a say in the matter?
*A Libyan Writer
Translated By LIBYAPROSPECT: Source