Alarm in Libya, 'ISIS advancing towards oil wells'

Tomorrow signature government national unity in Morocco

15 December, 13:00

    A road between Ajdabiya and Brega in the oil-rich eastern region of Libya A road between Ajdabiya and Brega in the oil-rich eastern region of Libya

    (by Giuseppe Maria Laudani)

    CAIRO - ISIS is now advancing ''towards Libyan oil wells''. The alarm, after the horrid crimes, executions, crucifixions and the threatening propaganda by Caliphate-linked jihadists, comes from French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. On the eve of the long-awaited signature in Skhirat, Morocco, for the new national unity government, by the two rival governments of Tobruk - whose parliament is internationally recognized - and Tripoli, dominated by the Islamists, the French defence minister has warned against the danger represented by ISIS militants in Libya who ''are in Sirte, stretch their territory along 250 kilometres of coast, but start penetrating inside and aim to try to access oil wells and reserves''.

    Over the past few months, multiple sources, not only from the West, have warned that Islamic State militants are planning to take oil reserves to fund their terror operations. Last Saturday, Cairo's 'Dar el Iftaa', the centre where religious edicts (fatwas) are issued, warned against the expansion of the terror organization, which from Sirte is eyeing the oil wells in Ajdabiya in the east, between Sirte and Benghazi. Such a threat should not be underestimated and can be stemmed only after Libya succeeds in reorganizing its state institutions, unified under one national unity government that should be approved tomorrow.

    The deal reached in Rome has given impetus to this perspective, an agreement reached at the end of the conference on Libya held at the foreign ministry in the Italian capital with the participation of 17 countries, plus the UN, EU, Arab League and African Union. The agreement provides for a new national unity government to take office within the next 40 days in Tripoli, an appeal for an immediate ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors. The international community will moreover guarantee the security of the new executive in the capital and Italy will play a ''fundamental role'' within the UN framework in the road towards stabilization.

    Yesterday, the premier proposed for a possible cabinet, Fayez Sarraj, launched a new appeal to the Libyans to close ranks and end the conflict. Also yesterday, new public executions carried out by ISIS were reported in Sirte. According to witnesses quoted by the Lana news agency, ''a Moroccan woman was beheaded after she was accused of sorcery by an Islamic court, while a Palestinian was shot dead on espionage charges''. A third man, ''a Libyan, was instead punished with one of his fingers cut for theft''.

    And while the Islamic State is feared to make an appearance in Sabratha, threatening archaeological ruins, a UNESCO world heritage site, at least nine people, including leaders of a group in power in the capital, were reported dead in Benghazi in clashes between Islamic extremists and Far Libya militias.

    Meanwhile a Lebanese judge has issued an arrest warrant for Hannibal Gaddafi, son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, on charges of hiding information on the case of Shiite imam Mussa Sadr, who disappeared in Libya in 1978.

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