LIBYA: Tripoli-Haftar agreement for the reopening of oil exports. Sarraj disavows everything and runs for cover

(To Filippo Del Monte)
19/09/20

An agreement was reached in Sochi, on the shores of the Black Sea, between the government of Tripoli and the Marshal of Libya Khalifa Haftar, the "rebel" of Cyrenaica, on the opening of oil exports. The agreement, signed by Khaled Haftar, son of Marshal Khalifa, and by the vice president of the GNA Ahmed Maiteeq, was in fact also endorsed by Tobruk.

It is evident that such a step was also possible due to a "yielding" to the demands of Haftar who loudly claimed to re-evaluate the mechanisms for distributing the proceeds of the oil industry; one of the reasons why - without hiding behind who knows what high ideals - it was decided to take up arms in Libya.

Sources accredited by the Tobruk Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirm that not only will all the country's ports once again function as hubs for the export of "black gold", but also that prices will be standardized and, above all, that the proceeds will be distributed by a Technical committee made up of representatives of all parties to the conflict, including Fezzan. This Committee by 31 December 2020 will have to report on the work done and, if necessary, develop a "business plan" for the following year. The goal is to bring Libyan oil production levels back to "normal" and therefore pre-war levels. In this regard, it is emphasized that the National Oil Company (NOC) would also undergo a corporate restructuring to ensure the "necessary transparency" on all operations carried out or to be carried out.

According to what is established in the agreement, large funds will be invested in favoring development and reconstruction projects according to the needs of citizens prostrated by eleven years of war.

In summary, the agreement provides for: Coordination between the two parties in the preparation of a unified budget that meets the needs of each party, based on its expenditure estimates, and by reconciling any disputes on the appropriations and inserting them into its final binding on both parties; the supervision of the transfer of the funds allocated in the budget to the two parties through the Ministry of Finance as agreed in the budget. The transfer is made monthly to pay wages. As regards the appropriations for chapters two, three (development) and four, they are transferred quarterly; the commitment of the Central Bank of Tripoli to cover the monthly or quarterly payments agreed in the financial statements without any delay and as soon as the Joint Technical Committee requests their transfer; supervise the transfer of development funds and evaluate agreed projects; guaranteeing bank payments and combating money laundering; find a method to reduce the public debt incurred during the war by both Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.

Yet many clouds are already gathering over this agreement: a denial has come from circles close to the Tripoli Prime Minister al-Sarraj, as well as from the Central Bank - whose head Al-Saddiq Al-Kabeer, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is defined " terrorist "de facto disavowing Sarraj's line of" national solidarity "- and even the NOC.
The Tripoli executive therefore appeared displaced by the move by Maiteeq, vice president but also referent of the complex financial world and Libyan holdings within the government, measureless and on good terms with powerful militias of the "Libyan Sparta".

The announcement of his resignation by the end of October given by Sarraj in recent days may have prompted Maiteeq to speed up the pace by crediting himself as the privileged point of reference for the Haftarian and Cyrenaic counterparts. It is not excluded that the return to Tripoli for the vice president could be very bitter and that he could suffer the same fate as his fellow interior minister Fatih Bashagha; this time the one who scored the point was Khalifa Haftar who used the control of oil wells and refineries along the eastern coast as a pick to "shore up" his weak military position and instead strengthen his potential for political blackmail against by Tobruk. The Sochi agreement allows Haftar (v.articolo) to appear as a credible actor and, above all, from which one cannot ignore to achieve the stabilization of the country.

A question remains open on the position of Maiteeq who usually uses "parallel diplomacy" to dialogue with what in Tripoli is still considered, to all intents and purposes, an enemy. On the front of the internal struggle against the Tripoli government, which began with the Bashagha affair, the future is still to be written.