A Libyan rebel leader accused the United States on Tuesday of behaving like pirates after U.S. naval forces seized an oil-laden tanker that had sailed from a rebel-held port in the east of the chaotic North African state.
Ibrahim Jathran’s defiant speech dampened hopes of a quick peaceful settlement with Libya’s central government to end a blockage of three oil ports his men took over in summer to press for eastern autonomy and a greater share of oil revenues.
The conflict reflects wider chaos in Libya where the government has been struggling to rein in militias that helped overthrow dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but kept their guns to become powerful political players.
On Sunday, U.S. forces stormed a tanker that had made it as far as the eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus after loading crude at the Es Sider port, one of three Jahtran’s men have occupied, and eluding Libyan government forces off-shore. The ship is now on its way back to a government-controlled port…
* * *
They were awfully quick to respond. Does the US Navy work for Libya?