By Libya Herald reporters.
Tunis, 19 September 2016:
In New York today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Faiez Serraj on his leadership.
However, the meeting comes at a difficult time for head of the Presidency Council and indeed for the irrepressible UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler who was today in Europe meeting German and Austrian politicians.
The reputation of the PC and the Government of National Accord has been damaged by continuing power cuts and a lack of cash at the banks in the west. These prompted two days of angry and disruptive demonstrations in the capital even as Serraj was flying from meetings in Cairo to New York.
The PC has sought to claim credit for the Bunyan Marsous operation which is in the final, drawn-out stages of destroying the remaining IS terrorists in Sirte. But it is generally understood that this has been a Misratan-led operation with which Serraj and his colleagues have had little to do. Indeed, until recently, there was anger among BM fighters at what they saw as a lack of logistical, medical and financial support from the PC in Tripoli.
But the biggest challenge to Serraj has come with the army’s successful wresting of the four eastern oil export terminals from Ibrahim Jadhran and his Petroleum Facilities Guard. The army now says that it has turned the running of the terminals over to the National Oil Corporation and has withdrawn its troops to positions from which they can block any further attacks.
In July, Kobler set up a deal between the PC and Jadhran by which the PFG commander would reopen the terminals. There have been reports that a sum of around $23 million was involved. However the oil flow did not resume, apparently for technical reasons.
But within days of the army’s almost bloodless occupation of the oil ports, tankers had begun to load at Ras Lanuf and Brega.
The political initiative would therefore appear to have moved to the internationally-recognised House of Representatives in Tobruk and the internationally-unrecognised Thinni government it appointed.
The Misratans have paid a high price in lives and wounded to destroy the terrorists in Sirte but the real prize, control of the greater part of Libyan oil production in the so-called Oil Crescent has been taken by authorities in the east.
In New York today Ban repeated that the UN still supported the PC and the GNA as the sole recognised government. Nevertheless, perhaps in recognition of the changed power balance, the secretary-general said how worried he was by the increasing divisions in the country and urged Serraj to broaden support for the Libyan Political Agreement by working with all stakeholders.