Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

LNA Shrugs off Western Call for Pullout from Oil Crescent Region, Sarraj Seeks Talks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A fire next to the Libyan cement factory is seen during clashes between military forces loyal to Libya’s eastern government, who are backed by the locals, and the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries, an alliance of former anti-Gaddafi rebels, who have joined forces with the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, in Benghazi, Libya April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Cairo-The Libyan National Army (LNA) has shrugged off calls by the U.S. and five other western governments to withdraw from the oil crescent region, which LNA seized two days ago.

The new developments compelled the head of Libya’s U.N.-backed unity government, Fayez al-Sarraj, to call for urgent talks.

As the eastern region cities prepare to witness protests in support of LNA, the governments of U.S., Germany, Spain, France, UK and Italy denounced what they described as attacks against oil ports in Zuwaytina, Ras Lanuf, Sidra and al-Barika. The governments called on all parties to abide by the ceasefire and abstain from conducting any new battle.

They said in a joint statement that the U.N.-brokered government based in the capital, Tripoli, is the “sole steward of these resources,” adding that “Libya’s oil belongs to the Libyan people.”

The statement urged forces to withdraw immediately from the oil crescent region without preconditions. It also insisted that Libyan forces join efforts to combat ISIS and other terrorist groups, defined earlier by the U.N.

Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh Issa stated that the National Oil Corporation in Libya (NOC) will be in charge of the oil terminals in Zuwaytina and the oil crescent region. Issa’s instructions included that the NOC assign guards to protect the oil facilities.

The release of the statement coincided with U.N. Libya envoy Martin Kobler expressing concern over the battles in the oil crescent region and urging LNA to abstain from any military escalation.

Kobler declared that U.N. Security Council resolution 2259 stipulates banning illegal oil exports. He added that the attacks on the oil crescent region threaten stability in Libya and widens the gap between Libyans.

The U.N. Libya envoy encouraged talks that might lead to the formation of a new national accord government.

Sarraj also issued a warning, saying Libya was at a “turning point” after the assault on the oil ports with its future as a united nation in serious question.

“I call on all sides to halt provocative actions and sit down urgently at the same table to discuss a mechanism that would enable us to get out of this crisis and put a stop to the conflict,” the prime minister said.

“I am not prepared to rule one part of Libya nor to lead a war against another part.”

Also Tuesday, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti affirmed that 200 soldiers will be sent to guard a hospital that Italy is willing to establish in Misrata.