Head of the Council of Elders in Libya’s Oil Terminal Abducted

Local media reports in Libya stated that the head of the council of elders in the oil terminal district of Sidra was seized while traveling from Ajdabiya to his home in Ras Lanuf.

It is suggested that Abdulsalem Bulahi Al-Maghrabi was taken by members of Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), as reported by Libya Observer.

“There have been some 120 abductions recently in the oil crescent towns of Ajdabiya, Brega, Ras Lanuf, and Sidra – most of them members of the Magharba tribe, and most of them were blamed on Haftar’s LNA,” according to recent reports.

However, the Magharba are crucial to the LNA’s hold on the oil crescent. They figure largely among those who work in both the fields and the terminals.

“It was the support of the tribes’ charismatic leading figure Salah Al-Ataiwish that ensured the LNA takeover of the oil terminals last September,”said Libya Observer.

In the same context, when the Benghazi Defense Brigades managed to restore its control over them at the beginning of this month, it was again put down to the Magharba, “this time because a number of local leaders changed sides in the absence of Ataiwish who was undergoing treatment in the UAE following an assassination attempt.”

It was then his return and instructions to members to again change side that is seen as having facilitated the LNA’s recapturing of oil terminals.

Given the links, any move that might alienate the Magharba could impact heavily on the LNA’s continued hold over the oil crescent.

It is worth to mention that Human Rights Watch has accused the Libyan National Army forces (LNA), loyal to Haftar of committing war crimes, including killing and beating civilians, and summarily executing and desecrating bodies of opposition fighters in the eastern city of Benghazi on and around March 18, 2017.

“The army forces allegedly intercepted civilians trying to flee a besieged neighborhood, some accompanied by opposition fighters, and the whereabouts of some civilians are unknown,” said the rights group.

HRW also called General Haftar, the commander of the LNA forces in eastern Libya, to order a full and transparent investigation into recent alleged crimes by forces under his command, including attacks on civilians, alleged summary executions, and the mutilation and desecration of corpses, and hold those responsible to account.

Joe Stork, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Human Rights Watch, said,“The LNA leadership needs to respond urgently to these deeply disturbing allegations by investigating the suspected perpetrators, including senior military commanders who may bear individual responsibility.”

Human Rights Watch cited relatives, activists, and local journalists who informed the rights group by phone that dozens of civilians unexpectedly fled the besieged Ganfouda neighborhood in the eastern city of Benghazi on March 18, 2017, after a nearly two-year stand-off between LNA forces and fighters of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC), a coalition of armed groups opposing the LNA.

Joe Stork also said, “Forces under the Libyan National Army have been committing serious human rights violations for some time, unchecked, and with impunity.” He added,“Senior military commanders need to know that they too can be held accountable unless they actively do something to stop these violations.”