The United States and its major European allies on Monday condemned an offensive by faction commander Khalifa Haftar against a string of oil ports in eastern Libya.
Libya’s fledgling internationally-recognised government has in recent days lost control of three oil exporting towns to an advance by Haftar’s forces.
“The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States condemn this weekend’s attacks on Zuwaytina, Ras Lanuf, Es Sider and Brega oil terminals in Libya,” they said, in a statement.
These powers are major players in the struggle to reunify and rebuild Libya after it slid into chaos in the wake of the 2011 overthrow of strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
In their statement, they insisted Libya’s oil belongs to its people, and should be administered by the UN-backed, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord.
Hafter, who commands one of the biggest armed factions in Libya, has been named a military commander by a rival, parallel authority based in eastern Libya.
His offensive into Libya’s “oil crescent” is the first time his forces have come into direct conflict with GNA supporters since the unity government started work in Tripoli in March.
As such, the prospect of his obtaining a stranglehold on Libya’s main export has raised renewed fears of a permanent east-west split or civil war.
“We call for all military forces that have moved into the oil crescent to withdraw immediately, without preconditions,” the world powers said, reiterating their support for the GNA and demanding an “immediate ceasefire.”