EYE ON LIBYA: Despite Rapidly Changing Scenario, Turkey Maintains Its Support

By Janet Ekstract

ISTANBUL – Turkey remains supportive of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) President Tayyip Erdogan said even though he was extremely disappointed at its prime minster’s decision to leave. On Monday, Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin commented that despite Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s decision to step down from running the GNA that Turkey will continue to honor its agreements and cooperation with them.

In fact, it was that very support from the Turkish military that turned the tide in June, on warlord and renegade Khalifa Haftar who made relentless attempts over the last year to capture Libya’s capital Tripoli while his militias were maiming, injuring and killing thousands. Haftar and his militias are also accused of committing war crime atrocities in a strategic town on the outskirts of Tripoli.

In the meantime, it appears that the oil blockade instigated by Haftar will be temporarily lifted, he announced on Friday.  It was immediately after that announcement that Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said it will resume oil exports only from fields and ports free of foreign mercenaries and other fighters. The NOC said it will end the force majeure that it was forced to implement months ago which protects a party that can’t complete a contract for reasons beyond its control. On Saturday, the NOC added that the oil shutdown will continue in other regions until militias retreat from respective oil fields.

Libya’s crisis always centered around the oil issue and its oil facilities with varying groups either shutting the fields down or sabatoging them for political and economic gain. Some companies that use or operate the OPEC member’s eastern ports announced they are resuming work. Those include Arabian Gulf Oil Company – capable of producing 300,000 barrels a day, Other major oil fields are the exception and include Sharara with Libya’s largest oil deposit since it is unclear whether mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group have agreed to exit the region. Last week, the NOC said it would be dangerous to start oil output again with armed forces in the vicinity since security needs to be assessed at a number of different oil fields, a source reported.

Meanwhile, analysts have weighed in and Goldman Sachs Group indicated in its forecasts that output will likely increase to 550,000 barrels daily by the end of 2020 – to almost a million by the middle of 2021. On Sunday, Goldman Sachs analysts commented: “From a logistical perspective, exports could restart immediately as the NOC’s crude inventories are elevated.” But on a cautionary note, they said the “field production is likely to take time.”

It remains to be seen whether or not the lifting of the oil blockade will last because Haftar said that lifting it is conditional on oil revenue being shared with more equanimity between the eastern administration and the GNA in Tripoli. Haftar made his announcement after an accord with the GNA’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq at a meeting in Russia, last week. The Libyan prime minister has not yet accepted the agreement which is pivotal on whether oil production resumes.

In light of al-Sarraj’s imminent exit, the Turkish government is said to be planning a trip to Tripoli within a week to discuss developments, according to sources. As Kalin told Demiroren News Agency: “These accords will not be impacted by this political period because these are decisions made by the government, not by any individual.”

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