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Gaddafi's proposal to distribute Libya’s oil to the people surfaces again

Gaddafi's proposal to distribute Libya’s oil to the people surfaces again

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Politics Basic Rights

Sunday 23 July 202304:46 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

هكذا بٌعث اقتراح القذافي لتوزيع النفط على الشعب من جديد

Two years before his eventual overthrow in 2011, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi put forth a proposal to his fellow citizens, suggesting the abolishment of the government and distributing Libya's oil wealth directly to the people. He argued that this was the only viable solution to combat the rampant corruption plaguing the nation, allowing Libyans to take control of their oil revenues and decide how to utilize them.

However, this proposal – which seemed strange at the time – faced opposition from Gaddafi's top aides who believed that such a move could lead to severe and lasting damage to the Libyan economy in the long run.

Fast forward to today, after 12 years since Gaddafi's downfall and the collapse of his regime in a momentous popular uprising, General Khalifa Haftar is reviving the idea, urging the Libyan people to have a say and intervene regarding the oil resources. He plays on the sentiments of the public, highlighting the plight of Libyans suffering from hunger and living in poverty, while vast oil wealth flows beneath their feet.

Two years before his eventual overthrow in 2011, Gaddafi put forth a proposal to his fellow citizens, suggesting the abolishment of the government and distributing Libya's oil wealth directly to the people, to combat the rampant corruption plaguing the nation

Exerting pressure on Dbeibeh with oil

Despite the resumption of oil production from the El Feel and Sharara fields in southwest Libya, the threat of shutting down oil facilities and preventing production and export remains a significant objective in itself. This tactic is being employed to exert pressure on the Government of National Unity, led by Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, with the aim of forcing it to relinquish power and allow the formation of a new government to oversee the long-delayed presidential and parliamentary elections from two years ago.

In eastern and southern Libya, tribal elders have aligned themselves with the declared stance of General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, who is also advocating for a fair distribution of oil revenues and combating corruption, which he says has taken hold within Dbeibeh's government.

A minister in exchange for two fields

Following the release of the former Finance Minister and candidate for the position of Central Bank Governor of Libya, Faraj Bumatari, oil production resumed in the Sharara and El Feel fields, as announced by the Ministry of Oil in Dbeibeh's government. Libya had lost millions of dollars due to the disruption of oil production, around 340,000 barrels of crude oil per day, during just four days, according to the Minister of Oil in the Dbeibeh government, Mohamed Aoun.

However, this did not deter Al Senoussi al Haliq, the chief of the Zawiya tribe to which Faraj belongs, from declaring that the tribes in the eastern and southern regions will continue to halt oil production until the elections take place.

Tensions escalated after the Internal Security Agency, headed by Lotfi al-Harari and affiliated with Dbeibeh, defended its arrest of Faraj in the capital, Tripoli, two weeks ago on charges of financial corruption. The agency released a judicial document from the Public Prosecutor's Office, led by al-Siddiq al-Sour, revealing that the release of Faraj was contingent on him appearing at the General Prosecutor's Office in Tripoli on the first Sunday of every month to complete the investigations.

However, the statement from the agency completely ignored what the head of the State Council, Khaled Al-Masri, said, that the arrest of Bumatari was due to his nomination for the position of Central Bank governor, a sovereign position that is subject to negotiations between the State Council and the House of Representatives to appoint a replacement for the current governor, al-Siddiq al-Kabeer.

So far, the High Financial Oversight Committee, proposed by the Presidential Council under Mohamed al-Menfi's presidency, has not been formed to address the fundamental issues related to transparency in public spending and the equitable distribution of resources to benefit all segments of Libyan society.

The question arises: Why is General Haftar bringing up Gaddafi's old proposal of distributing oil directly to the people?

Haftar's threats

Amid successive warnings from the embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom and the United Nations mission, General Haftar, described as the strongman in eastern Libya, threatened to mobilize the army's forces to prevent the collapse of the Libyan economy. Military officials have informed Raseef22 (on the condition of anonymity) that the army's forces might move to take control of oil ports and fields if Haftar's proposal is not implemented and the committee, which the exile decided to form, is not activated to ensure a fair distribution of oil wealth.

Meanwhile, Colonel Saddam, Haftar's son, led a military delegation on an inspection tour of the oil fields and facilities, inaugurating a new headquarters for the Petroleum Facilities Guard in the southern region.

However, sources within Dbeibeh's government have expressed that Haftar's fear of being subjected to potential US sanctions might dissuade him from carrying out his threats. These threats are seen as an attempt to maintain his presence in the political landscape and manipulate the sentiments of the Libyan people.

It's important to note that Colonel Khalifa Haftar has previously taken control of oil fields and ports on multiple occasions during the past years, claiming it was in response to the marginalization of the eastern and southern regions in favor of the western region, which receives the lion's share of the current oil revenues.

Will the army forces move to take control of oil fields and ports in Libya?

Endless closures

The oil sector in Libya has witnessed a series of closures affecting various oil fields and ports in the south and east of the country, resulting in losses exceeding 16 billion dinars (approximately 3.59 billion dollars), according to the national Oil Corporation. This decline in Libya's crude oil production from 1.2 million barrels per day to less than 200,000 barrels has been severely detrimental to the economy.

In the past, residents of the areas neighboring the oil fields and ports in the east and south of the country have initiated these closures as a form of protest against Dbeibeh, who has utilized oil revenues as a shield to protect his political position and prevent any attempts to exclude him from the political landscape.

In the face of corruption and marginalization, oil, once considered a blessing for Libyans since its discovery in 1958, has now become a curse. The oil facilities have become a target for expressing local grievances, as any action or disruption to them results in an immediate response from the government in Tripoli.

The situation in Libya remains highly precarious, with the future of the oil industry and the political landscape intertwined in a delicate dance of power and interests.

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