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Thu 12 May 2011 01:11 PM

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Libya rebels advance on oil town of Brega after Misrata victory

Insurgency against Gaddafi's rule in Libya has helped push up oil prices by almost 17% since mid-February

Libya rebels advance on oil town of Brega after Misrata victory
OIL BLAST: Libyan rebels are making gains in the three-month conflict against Muammar Gaddafi’s troops, advancing on the strategic oil town of Brega (Getty Images)
Libya rebels advance on oil town of Brega after Misrata victory

Libyan rebels are making gains in the three-month conflict
against Muammar Gaddafi’s troops, advancing on the strategic oil town of Brega
along the central coast after fighters in the east took the airport in Misrata.

The rebels, who control most of eastern Libya, now say they
are pushing westward from Misrata, which lies about 180 kilometers (116 miles)
from Tripoli, the capital. Jet fighters from the North Atlantic Treaty
Organisation, hit Tripoli at least four times overnight, the Associated Press
said.

“The rebels may be getting the upper hand because of
external support, but it is too early to call,” Theodore Karasik, director of
research at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis,
said in response to e- mailed questions. ‘We have to wait to see if another
brick wall emerges. Gaddafi may have more tricks up his sleeve.”

The insurgency against Gaddafi’s four-decade rule in Libya,
which has Africa’s biggest proven crude reserves, has helped push up oil prices
by almost 17 percent since mid-February, when protests began. Uprisings in the
Arab world led to the toppling of the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia and inspired
anti-government demonstrations across the region, including in Yemen and Syria.

Four rockets struck Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound on Wednesday,
a government spokesman told CNN.

Late on Wednesday, Gaddafi made his first television
appearance since April 30, when NATO attacks on his compound killed his son
Saif al Arab and three of his grandchildren. The images showed him holding a
meeting with tribal leaders on Wednesday.

Since the start of its mission, NATO has completed more than
2,400 so-called strike sorties, when warplanes identify targets, though don’t
always fire munitions, according to a statement on the alliance’s website.
Among the targets on May 10 were six vehicle storage sites, three ammunition
deposits and a surface-to-air missile launcher, NATO said. Some NATO 20 ships
are patrolling the central Mediterranean Sea.

The rebels on Wednesday appointed new economy and interior
ministers for their executive body. Abdullah Shamiya, who spent years as a
political prisoner under Gaddafi, was named economy minister, Abdel Hafiz
Ghoga, vice president of the rebels’ National Transitional Council, said in a
telephone interview. A judge, Ahmed Hussein, was appointed minister for the
interior and local governance, Ghoga said.

The Libyan consul in Cairo, Faraj Saeed Al-Arabi, said in
comments aired on Thursday on Al Arabiya television that he was resigning and
joining the rebels.

 

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