Tags: libya | militia | shadow | government

Militia Leader Creates Shadow Government in Eastern Libya

By    |   Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 06:59 AM

Ibrahim al-Jathran, the Libyan warlord who moved to block half the country’s oil exports in July, continues to be a thorn in the side of the nation’s central government.
 
With his announcement of the formation of a shadow government to rule eastern Libya — where his 17,000-person military force is based — Jathran has driven home the reality that Libya’s central government does not rule large swaths of the county.
 
On Sunday, Jathran, a 33-year-old leader of a militia that helped topple longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi two years ago, staged a ceremony in which 24 men were named to hold various government posts in eastern Libya, the Wall Street Journal reported.
 
Jathran named the region “Cyrenaica,” the name given it by Roman rulers many centuries ago.
 
In July, Jathran and his Libyan military unit — which had been formed to protect the region’s oil wealth — cut off the oil flow, causing Libyan oil exports to fall by 50 percent and increasing prices on international markets.
 
He said the brinksmanship was necessary to force Tripoli to adopt a more fair economic arrangement in which a greater percentage of oil revenue is spent in eastern Libya.
 
Like Jathran, many Easterners say that for years, their region was plundered of oil wealth which was diverted to other parts of Libya, where it was misused by corrupt politicians during Gadhafi’s 42-year reign.
 
Many easterners saw Jathran’s insurrection as a way to force Libyan politicians to stop ignoring their legitimate concerns about rampant corruption.
 
In the meantime, the threat to the nation’s weak central government has grown, and some Libyan politicos have tried in desperation to bribe Jathran into ending his campaign with offers of financial help to the militia leader and his family.
 
For his part, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has said he won’t order a military campaign to oust Jathran from the oil export terminals — a recognition of the reality that there is no Libyan national military force capable of driving his militia out.
 
In an analysis published in September, the Atlantic Council reported that Zeidan “lacks the political force required to take back facilities. The central government supposedly has a few hundred thousand militiamen on payroll but even commanders admit very few actually serve the state. Most simply collect a paycheck.”
 
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Ibrahim al-Jathran, the Libyan warlord who moved to block half the country’s oil exports in July, continues to be a thorn in the side of the nation’s central government.
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2013-59-06
Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 06:59 AM
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