Libya, western region still in chaos: The Eni plant in Mellitah besieged by militias
The western region of Libya, without a real army, remains under the control of armed gangs and illegal militias. An armed protest in front of the gates of the Oil & Gas Complex in Mellitah, about eighty kilometres west of Tripoli towards the Tunisian border, has again paralyzed the most important energy installation in Libya: “For the second consecutive day – they write in a statement the trade unions of the industrial complex, a partnership between Eni and the Libyan national oil corporation NOC, from which the Green stream pipeline connecting Africa to Sicily starts – armed militiamen from Zuwara blocked entry and exit from the plant ”.
“We ask that the siege be lifted immediately and we hold them completely responsible for endangering the lives of workers who are prevented from entering and leaving. We ask the government of national unity to take the necessary measures to stop the armed protests in front of the plant.” The statement continues. The action of the militiamen was triggered on Tuesday morning after the arrest of another militia leader by order of the Tripoli prosecutor.
The man is held responsible for illicit trafficking in the Zuwara area, one of the busiest in Libya for human trafficking and smuggling. Many of the battered boats loaded with migrants depart from Zuwara and, paying considerable sums to the traffickers, sail towards the Italian coasts.
The arrest of the man, which took place at dawn on Tuesday shortly before Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi landed in Tripoli, was carried out on a mandate from the Attorney General. Brigadier General Imad al-Din Masoud, head of security of the Zuwara directorate, ended up in handcuffs.
That same morning the militiamen under his orders, who in this area of the country have de facto control of the territory, defined the action as “a kidnapping” and headed in reaction to the Mellitah complex, the most important strategic compound in Libya where several times, such as last June, they entered arms in hand threatening, and sometimes carrying out, the partial or total blockade of the plant if they had not obtained the payment of the fee required for the protection.
Actions of this kind, normally implemented to raise the price of protection, take place with a certain regularity in all oil and gas extraction plants in western Libya, where Turkey is present. And it is well known that the militias are no strangers to the illicit trafficking and the drama of exploited and violated migrants.
A few kilometres east of the Mellitah complex is Zawiya, another large hub of human trafficking where Abdurrahman al Milad, the notorious commander Bija, was arrested.He too was “supervisor” of security in the local oil pole for a year back an unexecuted arrest warrant from the Attorney General of Tripoli. Accused of crimes against human rights by the International Criminal Court (ICC), he is believed to be the great manipulator of human trafficking in his jurisdiction, but in reality, he is only the scapegoat of a well-organized international chain.