By Hadi Fornaji.
Tunis, 26 March 2017:
The head of the council of elders in the oil terminal district of Sidra was reported to have been seized yesterday while travelling from Ajdabiya to his home in Ras Lanuf. It is suggested that Abdulsalem Bulahi Al-Maghrabi was taken by members of the Libyan National Army (LNA).
According to reports, there have been some 120 abductions recently in the oil crescent towns of Ajdabiya, Brega, Ras Lanuf, and Sidra – most of them members of the Magharba tribe, and most of them blamed on the LNA.
The Magharba are, however, crucial to the LNA’s hold on the oil crescent. They figure largely among those who work in both the fields and the terminals.
It was the support of the tribes’ charismatic leading figure Salah Al-Ataiwish that ensured the LNA takeover of the oil terminals last September. Likewise, when the Benghazi Defence Brigades managed to take them at the beginning of this month, it was again put down to the Magharba, this time because a number of local leaders changed sides in the absence of Ataiwish who was undergoing treatment in the UAE following a assassination attempt. It was then his return and instructions to members to again change side that is seen as having facilitated the LNA’s retaking of them a fortnight ago.
Given the links, any move that might alienate the Magharba could impact heavily on the LNA’s continued hold over the oil crescent.