Libyan Militia Head Seeks US Help 03/11 07:23
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- A Libyan commander whose militia took over vital oil
terminals in the country's east said Tuesday he is seeking help from the United
States in a standoff with the government over the seizure.
Ibrahim Jedran said in a televised statement carried by his private network
that U.S. help in monitoring his militia's management of oil exports and
revenues would be "welcome."
The militia sparked a three-day crisis when it attempted to load oil into a
North Korean-flagged tanker that docked without government permission in the
key port of al-Sidra. The militia seized the port last summer.
The government said Monday that its forces had taken control of the tanker,
but the militia denied this. A spokesman for Jedran's group, Essam Jehani, said
it had already sailed into international waters without facing any resistance
and that he would post a video of the ship leaving port. It was not possible to
verify his account.
U.S. Ambassador Deborah Jones has said the militia's action was "counter to
law and amounts to theft."
"Any oil sales without authorization from these parties places purchasers at
risk of exposure to civil liability, penalties and other possible sanctions in
multiple jurisdictions," she posted on her Twitter account on Saturday, adding
that the tanker was loading "illicitly obtained oil." She said the oil belongs
to the Libyan National Oil Company and its partners, including the US companies.
The conflict over Libya's vast oil reserves is the latest in series of
crises hitting the country since rebels overthrew longtime dictator Moammar
Gadhafi in 2011. In an absence of security, it has relied heavily on former
rebels and militias but they have pressured elected authorities, challenging a
hoped-for transition to democracy.
In his remarks, Jedran, a former anti-Gadhafi rebel, referred to a
pre-Gadhafi law that regulated certain quotas of oil revenues among the
country's three historic regions, including the eastern Cyrenaica. He says he
wants regional autonomy for the marginalized region.
"We welcome the international partners, including the United States if they
want to monitor how we distribute the money," he said, adding that partners'
shares in the oil would be protected. "We welcome a constructive role by the
United States to preserve unity and to look into Cyrenaica's aspirations for
After seizing the ports, he demanded the government to form a committee to
redistribute oil revenues among the country's three regions.