Is the oil blockade really averted in Libya? Conversation with Bashir Sheik, the ‘Anger of Fezzan’

By Vanessa Tomassini. This interview originally appeared on the Italian “Strumenti Politici“.

In southern Libya, social tensions are rekindling around the oil fields. After the production restart thanks to the change of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) Board of Directors by the Prime Minister, Abdel Hamid Al-Dabaiba, local activists in Aubari threaten new closures. We caught up with Bashir Sheik, head and co-founder of the ‘Fezzan Rage’ youth movement. Last week, representatives of the Aubari population held the two rival governments and the local oil company Brega responsible for the explosion of the fuel tanker in Bint Bayah.

Thank you, Bashir, for accepting this interview. How do young people in southern Libya experience the current circumstances their country is going through?

“Certainly, the situation deteriorates considerably, given the lack of fuel and gas, as well as the constant disruption of electricity, the salary crisis and the deplorable economic situation for the citizens. The latest tragedy in Bint Bayah was undoubtedly the straw that broke the camel’s back and our youth now challenges this injustice and marginalization from the central government”.

On 25 October 2018 the “Anger of Fezzan” movement was born. Among your requests were: supporting the military and security establishment to secure the resources of the Libyan people, protect the south and extend the rule of law; supporting the health sector; resuming maintenance work on power plants, management of all airports in the south; providing liquidity to the banks of the villages and cities of the south by the Central Bank of Libya; implementation of the southern refinery project; etc etc. How many of those requests have been implemented? What has changed after 4 years?

“In fact, not a single requirement has been fulfilled except for the Alhawari gas station and the rest of the demands have not been implemented to this moment. All efforts are dedicated to the implementation of these demands. For the government to interact with this movement, it looks like that we will be taking new measures around the oil fields”.

The oil wells have been closed for a long time. Did the NOC administration’ change really solved the problem?

“No, it did not. It was a political deal between Dabaiba and Haftar, and nothing has changed. Fuel and gas are not available in addition to liquidity. Crises are running on us”.

Honestly, is closing oil wells a political issue or a means of getting people’s problems heard?

“It is the only way to put pressure on the government, and unfortunately, this is the last way that we’ve seen to solve the problem”.

Recently, in Italy, raised some discussions the possibility that the Libyan government would cut direct gas supplies to Italy, a news then denied. Libya exports gas to Italy, but do its citizens, especially in Fezzan, all have gas and electricity in their homes?

“That’s the problem, we export oil and gas when people and citizens inside the country don’t have anything”.

Do you think there is racism among Libyan citizens on the coast towards the southern population?

“No, the issue is not racism, it is injustice and marginalization. Citizens, all know each other and love each other, but the government’s handling of the South is always bad, all governments actually, including our own people from the South, who believe they represent us”.

What weight do foreign countries have on oil activities? Are there any countries that use the closure of plants in their favor?

“I think that political agendas are always involved in the issue of previous closures, but popular intervention and popular reactions are very different from those that were for the government or for certain government’s demands”.

Who are the major leaders in southern Libya today?

“There are no real leaders, no real representatives, and the street wins for its will and purpose, and it sees that everyone has been unfair and unjust with them. No human being now is considered as a real representative for the people in the South”.

%d blogger hanno fatto clic su Mi Piace per questo: