CAIRO – Opposition from top political figures in Libya’s U.N.-backed government in Tripoli to a deal announced Friday to resume the country’s oil production appears to have put the agreement on hold, at least for the moment.
The deal between eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar and the Tripoli government’s deputy prime minister, Ahmed Maitiq, prompted negative reaction from Maitiq’s allies.
A news conference at which Maitiq was to explain the oil production agreement ended abruptly when when supporters of a Tripoli militia prevented him from speaking. Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV reported that partisans of Islamist Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga blocked both the deal and the media event.
The foreign minister of the interim government in eastern Libya, Abdul Hadi al Hwiej, told Arab media that he thought Turkey was responsible for torpedoing the oil deal. The agreement included a stipulation that no oil money would be used to fund mercenaries or agreements with Ankara.
Haftar had insisted in a televised speech Friday that the deal include strict provisions about what oil export revenue could be used for.
He said the decision to resume production and export of oil must include needed precautions to guarantee that revenue be fairly distributed, that it be used to improve Libyans’ standard of living, and that it not be plundered or used to support terrorism.
Haftar’s spokesman, Colonel Ahmed Almasmary, said Friday at a news conference that the oil deal would “guarantee a fair distribution of Libya’s oil revenues between the country’s east, west and south.”
Turkish media reported that Osama Juweili, a military commander loyal to the Tripoli government, rejected the deal, calling for a “clear response from the [Tripoli government’s] presidency council.”
Arab media reported that Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who recently announced his intention to step down by the end of October, rejected the deal made by his deputy, Maitiq.
Libya analyst Aya Burweila, a visiting lecturer at the Hellenic National Defense College, told VOA that Friday’s deal was a “breakthrough for conflict resolution” since “traditionally antagonistic parties” from both east and west “cooperated” to make it, but that “a minority of spoilers and actors, who have profited from the staggering corruption and lack of transparency in Libya, are up in arms over the agreement.”