United States Special Forces took over an oil-filled commercial tanker that left a rebel-controlled Libyan port. The raid was intended to foil the rebels' plans to sell petroleum on the global market.
The raid took place on Sunday night in the Mediterranean Sea southeast of Cyprus. The SEALs successfully carried out the operation without firing any shots or injuring any of the captured rebels. The ship’s captain described the three armed Libyans as hijackers.
According to a Pentagon spokesperson, the Morning Glory oil tanker was the first vessel to have loaded crude from a rebel-controlled port since a separatist insurgency against Tripoli’s government broke out in July of last year. There was no mention of the tanker’s destination.
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The spokesperson added that the Obama-approved operation was a reflection of the United States’ policy to boost Libya’s frail central government, which has faced multiple challenges since Moammar Gadhafi was ousted in 2011.
The combination of Libya’s weak government and burgeoning army has made it increasingly difficult for the nation to put its foot down on former anti-Gadhafi militias, who are currently using their military capabilities to leverage the state to their oil-related agenda.
Libya’s government had been openly against the militia’s participation in the country’s oil trade, and even threatened to blow up the tanker at one point. Once the Morning Glory set sail last week, lawmakers of the transitional parliament removed Prime Minister Ali Zeidan through a vote of no confidence. The defense minister was appointed as interim leader.
The Libyan government released an official statement on Monday crediting the American and Cypriot governments for intercepting the illicit oil shipment. It also confirmed that the sale of Libyan petroleum is the primary source of national revenue, which is why any illegal activities surrounding it will not be tolerated.
The Morning Glory is headed back to Libya under the authority of 25 U.S. sailors, and is expected to reach port within four days. The Libyan hijackers are in U.S. custody, although their prosecution has not yet been determined.
Navy SEALs training at sea
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