By Ajnadin Mustafa.
Tripoli, 19 May 2016:
Mahdi Barghathi, the minister of defence in Faiez Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA), arrived in . . .[restrict]Tripoli today to start work there. He flew into Mitiga from Ras Lanuf where yesterday he had further talks with Ibrahim Jadhran, the commander of the Petroleum Facilities’ Guards (PFG) in the central region. The meeting coincided with reports that the Libyan National Army, under the control of Khalifa Hafter, has now taken control of more than a dozen oil fields in the Sirte basin that before the so-called Islamic State started raiding them had been secured by the PFG.
Jadhran, who supports the GNA, is firmly opposed to Hafter who in turn is opposed both to it and to Barghathi being its defence minister.
Arriving at Mitiga he had talks there with UN Special Envoy Martin Kobler as well as with a number of senior army officers there to welcome him.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Presidency Council had ordered the GNA to start working from Tripoli, although the ministers were informed of this some days earlier.
On the same day, Barghathi left Bengahzi, apparently to Hafter’s annoyance: LNA sources spoke of Barghathi leaving without Hafter’s “permission”. Arriving at Sidra where he inspected PFG forces, he was welcomed by Jadhran who with his forces pledged loyalty to him. For his part, Barghathi warned that the battle to defeat IS could turn into a civil war – referring to the race between the LNA and Presidency Council’s Operations Room to be the first to liberate Sirte.
Meanwhile it has been reported that LNA forces have now secured some 14 oilfields in the Sirte basin that were previously secured by the PFG but then attacked and claimed by IS. These are said to include Waha Oil’s Bahi, Beida, Samah, Dahra and Waha fields, Harouge’s Ghani and Tibesti fields, Zueitina’s Sabah and Zilla fields, Total’s Mabrouk and Sirte Oils’s Zeltan field.
It had been widely suggested that the LNA would not launch its planned assault on Sirte until it had secured the oil fields. [/restrict]