Air Force refuses to bomb oil tanker
By Tom Westcott.
Members of the Libyan Air Force have apparently refused to obey orders to bomb an oil tanker that has been loading oil illegally from the Es-sider oil export terminal.
A Ministry of Defence official in Tripoli, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Libya Herald that the Air Force did not want to attack the terminal for a number of reasons.
“There is a strong feeling among members of the Air Force that it should not be used to solve what is essentially a political problem, especially as civilians could be injured or killed,” he said.
There were also deep concerns about the potential environmental impact of an oil spill on the Mediterranean Sea and the Libyan coastline if the tanker was hit, he said.
It is thought that the Air Force’s attitude is one of the “logistical problems” cited by General National Congress (GNC) member Suliman Gajam this afternoon as delaying military action against the vessel.
Despite Zeidan’s threat today that the tanker would be targeted if it did not obey orders from the Libyan Navy, no force has yet been used.
This evening, Zeidan said that the Army Chief of Staff refused to take orders from him or the Ministry of Defence and would only answer to the GNC and Commander-in-Chief – a role temporarily occupied by GNC head Nuri Abu Sahmain.
This does not explain why no action has yet been taken, however, as Gajam said this afternoon that the General Chief of Staff, Abdulsalam Al-Obaidi, had been instructed to take the necessary action to deal with the ship as an illegal target.
The North Korean-flagged vessel docked at Es-sider this morning at 6am. Federalists claim that, by this evening, it had loaded the equivalent of 350,000 barrels of oil. Other shipping sources, however, have said that the vessel only started loading oil at 8pm, apparently under duress from those in control of the terminal.
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