March 11, 2014
Mezran on Attempted Sell of Libyan Oil
This is the latest bit of chaos to ripple through Libya, which has been stuck in a deep power vaccum since militias took control of the country’s three biggest ports last summer. Libya’s oil exports have slowed to a trickle, starving the government—and thereby the economy—of its main source of revenue. The Libyan parliament has been meeting in a hotel since protestors stormed the legislative building with knives and guns last week, killing a guard and wounding six lawmakers.
Though it’s also true in such places as Nigeria and Venezuela, nowhere does power more completely flow through a country’s oil supply than in Libya. Controlling Libya’s oil is to dominate Libya.
Zeidan’s big mistake appears to have come last summer, when he entrusted the security of Libya’s ports to Jadran and his militia. Though he thwarted the sale of Libyan oil to North Korea, it’s tough to see how Zeidan can wrest back control of the country’s ports and ultimately, the ability to restart the country’s economy. “I’m not sure there is a step that he can take that is not a misstep,” says Sarah Emerson, an energy analyst and principle at ESAI Energy. Karim Mezran, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, says the only way forward is to hold new elections. “Zeidan has lost,” says Mezran. “He’s too weak to take back power.”