By Jamal Adel.
Kufra, 30 October 2014:
Following yesterday’s meeting at the Sharara oilfield in the southwest of the country between the President . . .[restrict]of the House of Representatives, Ageela Saleh Gwaidar, and leaders of the local Tuareg community, the latter are reported to have pledged their allegiance to the HoR as the country’s legitimate parliament.
The Tebus already support the HoR.
Saleh had flown to the oilfield with Second Deputy HoR President Ahmed Arhuma, who is from Sebha, and a group of elders from across the country to try and mediate between local Tuareg and Tebu communities. The two have been engaged in sporadic clashes in nearby Obari for over a month following the arrival of a Tuareg militia which tried to take over the local petrol station. It has been claimed that the militia had been dispatched to the area to secure the local oilfields for Libya Dawn.
Obari is a Tuareg-majority town but law and order has been in the hands of the minority Tebu. Relations between the two, however, were harmonious until the arrival of the Tuareg militia, said to be from outwith the area. Local Tuaregs were inevitably drawn into the subsequent fighting between it and Tebu forces.
The Tebus were not present at yesterday’s meeting, apparently because of timing difficulties, but Saleh is reported to want both communities to send negotiators to Tobruk to work out a lasting peace between them.
His visit, however, appears to been prompted by the urgent need to rally local support behind the HoR given reports that, with the Tuareg militia having failed in its objective, Misratan forces were now heading from Sebha to the area to take over the oilfields.
It is the third time that Libya Dawn has tried to take control of them. Early last month, before the fighting in Obari, a Misratan delegation arrived in the town to try and persuade local Tuaregs to back Libya Dawn. The Tuaregs refused but at that point did not come out firmly in favour of the House of Representatives and the Thinni government.
It is too early to say how successful Saleh’s moves for peace between Tuareg and Tebu in Obari will be, although the leader of the local Tuareg community, Sheikh Abubakr Al-Faqih Akadzan, is reported to have said that he welcomed dialogue and reconciliation “with our Tebu brothers”.
Meanwhile, however, the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) at the Sharara and El-Fil (Elephant) oilfields have indicated that they will not allow the Misratans to take control of them without a fight.
It has been reported that the Misratan-led Third Force, which appears to have sidestepped a Tebu checkpoint south of Sebha and arrived at Germa some 30 kilometres east of Obari, has sent messages to the PFG ordering it to leave the area.
The PFG forces, consisting mainly of Tebus but with some Zintanis plus a few Tuaregs and local Arabs, have responded that the oilfields are already fully secured and will remain so.
“We are Petroleum Facilities Guards. We consist of people from a number of local towns and communities. It is our job to fully secure the oilfields,” the PFG Commander at the Sharara, Ibrahim Shaimi, told the Libya Herald.
“They [the Third Force] have nothing to do with oilfields whatsoever. They should secure Sebha before they think about moving any deeper in the south,” he said.
The Sharara field, some 70 kilometres west of Obari, was already safe and secure, he insisted. “The oilfield is not in any danger; the fighting limited to the town of Obari.”
As for El-Fil, south of the Sharara field, it too was “firmly protected by PFG members”, according to a leading PFG officer there.
“Whoever says that they will secure the oilfields must think that we are invisible. We will hand over nothing to no-one,” Shaimi said. [/restrict]