Wednesday, May 11, 2016

By Simon Speakman Cordall
Tunisia Live
May 10 2016

Safia Farkash Gaddafi, the widow of Libya’s former leader, Muammar Gaddafi is to be allowed to return to Libya along with some of her Grandchildren.

Gaddafi fled with her family to Algeria after publicly backing her husband during some of the most brutal fighting of the revolution. The family were later forced to leave Algeria for Oman, after Gaddafi’s daughter, Aishi ignored government restrictions on criticising the revolution in her home country.

The move to allow Safia Gaddafi’s return comes as part of a wider push for national reconciliation. Principally, it is being interpreted as an attempt to pacify pro-Gaddafi elements within the country ahead of an assault on the Islamic State’s, (Daesh) stronghold in her husband’s former home-town of Sirte.

The battle to recapture Sirte from Daesh is expected to be amongst the most challenging of recent years. In March, a spokesperson for the Petroleum Defence Guards, a militia then allied to the eastern government in Tobruk and responsible for guarding the vast refineries and pipelines of the Sirte basin,  told the Financial Times, “The raiders [Daesh] have most of the weaponry possessed by the Libyan army and better New cars. Powerful rockets. The most modern guns. “

Oil has become a key factor in the ongoing diplomatic tussle between the UN backed government, operating from a naval base in Tripoli, (the GNA) and the former internationally recognised House of Representatives, (HoR) in Tobruk.

Recent attempts by both governments to export oil have been blocked by the other, while many of the country’s refineries remain subject to uncertainty and fighting. According to Reuters, oil production in Libya fell to just 212,000 barrels on Monday, down from 1.6 million at its peak. The (Tripoli based) National Oil Company warned that storage tanks at the eastern port of Hariga would fill up in less than three weeks if no oil is exported and that output would fall further.

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