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Libya military suspended more than Half of Oil Exports

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Ports in eastern Libya controlled by military commander Khalifa Haftar suspended crude oil exports while reducing the country's production by more than half and increasing tension before a summit in Germany to discuss the Libyan conflict.

The move came as Germany and the United Nations sought to persuade Haftar and his foreign backers at the Berlin summit on Sunday to halt his nine-month campaign to control Tripoli, the seat of the internationally recognized government.

Tribesmen in areas controlled by the forces of eastern Libya (the Libyan National Army) led by Haftar stormed the oil port of Zueitina and announced the closure of all ports under the control of the national army.

"The oil ports and fields were closed by the Libyan people who prevented the export of oil," Ahmed Mismari, a spokesman for Libya National Army, told reporters.

LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari later told reporters that the “Libyan people” had closed the oil ports. A source in state oil company NOC said the LNA and an eastern oil protection force had ordered the closure of the ports. The oil protection force confirmed exports had been stopped.

A source in the National Oil Corporation said that the Libyan National Army and the guardians of oil installations in the east of the country have ordered the ports to be closed. The Guard of the oil installations confirmed the suspension of exports.

Libyan oil production was estimated at 1.3 million barrels per day before the ports were closed.

Analysts said the closure of the ports would not have occurred without the approval of the Libyan National Army leadership. 
Human rights organizations say the authorities in eastern Libya have little tolerance of opposition.

Earlier, tribal elders allied with Haftar accused the internationally recognized government of using oil revenues to pay wages to foreign fighters, in reference to Turkey's decision to send soldiers and fighters from the Syrian Civil War to western Libya to help the Tripoli government counter the campaign of the national army.

The port closure is a setback for Sunday's Berlin conference, in which Haftar and the internationally recognized government prime minister in Tripoli, Faiz al-Sarraj, and their foreign and western powers are expected to participate.

The one-day summit is the latest after a series of failed conferences and negotiations aimed at stabilizing Libya.
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