OPINION: Mali coup puts region’s oil and gas industry on edge

By Barry Morgan in  Paris – UPSTREAM
 

OPINION: Last week’s mutinous putsch by Malian army officers against President Boubacar Keita is cause for concern among oil and gas companies operating in the region, not least in Senegal and Mauritania’s burgeoning industry.

The bloodless coup was swiftly denounced by the African Union, which demanded the immediate recall of the ousted president and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, yet people were seen rejoicing on the streets of the capital Bamako.

Popular frustration had mounted over alleged corruption and growing insecurity in the landlocked state, most of it controlled by Tuareg militia and terror groups Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly insisted Operation Barkhane, a UN-backed French military campaign to neutralise the Islamist insurgency, would be unaffected.

France has 5100 soldiers deployed to assist and train the G5 Sahel militaries of Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania and is desperately seeking funds to shore up the mission in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to scale down US counter-terror operations.

Keita may now be relocated to Senegal by Mali’s army junta, comprising senior officers well-liked in the ranks and led by US-trained Colonel Assimi Goita.

The events of 18 August reflect a wider malaise. Recent weeks have seen the advance of East Africa’s Al Qaeda affiliate to threaten liquefied natural gas developments operated by Total and ExxonMobil in Mozambique.

South Africa is wary of entering the fray for fear of jihadist retaliation on its own territory — Russia’s Wagner Group tried and failed to assist the Mozambique army but quit the scene, popping up again this month in Libya’s southwestern oil patch.

Russian mercenaries have sought access to natural resources in return for quelling rebellion but have had limited success with the US, for now, deploying substantial diplomatic capital to exclude Russian entities from participation in oilfield equity.

Lukoil failed to snare desired acreage in Equatorial Guinea and in Senegal where Nigerian independent Oranto Petroleum was also persuaded against a proposed farmout to Rosneft.

Perhaps more critical is the spill-over into sub-Saharan Africa of intense competition between the Emirati-Saudi alliance and a coalition of Qatari-Turkish interests with Iran as an active participant, all vying to win friends and influence people across the continent.

Underlying the geopolitical rivalry are sharp religious differences between Wahabi Sunni extremists and the expansionary Muslim Brotherhood, fed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who this week landed a massive, open-ended security deal with G5 member Niger.

France is appalled, having failed to secure either Saudi or Qatari finance for the G5 which may now crumble, with President Emmanuel Macron using funds borrowed by Senegal to hastily build a military camp at Goudiry near the Mali border to combat cross-border threats.

Little more than 600 kilometres of desert separates restive Islamist militias from the Senegal-Mauritanian coast, while just to the north Iran stands accused by Morocco of using Hezbollah to train up Polisario rebels just in case the US caves in and backs Rabat’s claim to sovereignty over Western Sahara.

One false move and an attack on Senegal’s flagship oil and gas developments could blast both out of the water before either Sangomar or Greater Tortue Ahmeyim have pumped a drop — and Woodside Petroleum, Total and BP are well aware of the threat.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)(Copyright) |Photo : Bloodless coup: Malian army soldiers arrive amid a crowd of supporters in Bamako’s Independence Square after the overthrow of the country’s president Photo: AFP/SCANPIX

Sahel-Elite (Bamako-Mali)

 

Libya, Turkey, Qatar agree to boost Libyan army

26/08/2020 – Libya has agreed with Turkey and Qatar to sign a three-way agreement for rendering military cooperation to the Libyan army, a senior Libyan official has announced following a quick visit by the Turkish and Qatari top soldiers to Tripoli.

The announcement came from Libya’s Deputy Defense Minister Salah Al-Namroush on Aug. 17 in a statement following tripartite talks with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah in Tripoli. Continuer à lire … « Libya, Turkey, Qatar agree to boost Libyan army »

Sudanese Janjaweed militia heads toward Libya’s Sirte as military buildup continues

11/08/2020 – The Janjaweed militia from Sudan with 70 armed vehicles is headed toward the key Libyan province of Sirte as putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar continues his military buildup around the city with the support of his foreign backers.

The official social media account of the Libyan government’s Operation Volcano of Rage stated that the Sudanese mercenaries were seen in the Brega district east of Sirte. The report added that the forces were on their way to support Haftar. Continuer à lire … « Sudanese Janjaweed militia heads toward Libya’s Sirte as military buildup continues »

Two Russian military cargo planes land in Libya’s Sirte

11/08/2020 – Two Russian military cargo planes landed in Libya’s strategic Sirte city – Gardabiya airbase – which is under the control of illegitimate forces loyal to putschist Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan Army under the Government of National Accord said. Continuer à lire … « Two Russian military cargo planes land in Libya’s Sirte »

Russian Wagner mercenaries moving from Jufra to Sirte: Libyan Army

07/08/2020 – Mercenaries of the Russian Wagner Group are en route to much-contested Sirte after leaving Jufra, the Libyan Army said in a statement Thursday.

The Wagner mercenaries, which are fighting on behalf of putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar, are moving in a 21-vehicle convoy including four trucks and two ammunition carriers, the army of the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) said in a Facebook post. Continuer à lire … « Russian Wagner mercenaries moving from Jufra to Sirte: Libyan Army »

Russia may have deployed S-400 air defence system in Libya

07/08/2020 – Pictures circulating on social media suggest Russia may have deployed its S-400 air defence system in Libya, an analyst writing for Forbes said on Thursday.

Images posted online appear to show a large radar and vertical missile tubes near Ras Lanuf in eastern Libya. If they are part of Russia’s S-300 or S-400 system, “it could help tip the scales in the favour of Russia and its local allies against Turkish-backed forces,” defence analyst H I Sutton said. Continuer à lire … « Russia may have deployed S-400 air defence system in Libya »

China, Russia opposed appointing French diplomat as head of new UN mission to Sudan

23/07/2020 – Russia and China are blocking the appointment of a French diplomat at the head of a new political mission of the United Nation to support the democratic transition in the East African country. Continuer à lire … « China, Russia opposed appointing French diplomat as head of new UN mission to Sudan »

Pentagon report: Turkey sent up to 3,800 fighters to Libya

18/07/2020 – Turkey sent between 3,500 and 3,800 paid Syrian fighters to Libya over the first three months of the year, the U.S. Defense Department’s inspector general concluded in a new report, its first to detail Turkish deployments that helped change the course of Libya’s war.

The report comes as the conflict in oil-rich Libya has escalated into a regional proxy war fueled by foreign powers pouring weapons and mercenaries into the country. The U.S. military has grown increasingly concerned about Russia’s growing influence in Libya, where hundreds of Russian mercenaries backed a campaign to capture the capital, Tripoli, in the country’s west. Continuer à lire … « Pentagon report: Turkey sent up to 3,800 fighters to Libya »

In Libya’s war, where is the UK? (By Jonathan Fenton-Harvey)

18/07/2020 – As Libya’s conflict risks turning into a new chapter of proxy war, much focus is on what key external actors involved in the war should or should not do, from Russia and Egypt, to France and Turkey.
Continuer à lire … « In Libya’s war, where is the UK? (By Jonathan Fenton-Harvey) »

Russian, UAE top diplomats discuss situation in Libya, development of bilateral ties

18/07/2020 – Settlement of the conflict in Libya and further strengthening of bilateral ties were among the topics discussed by Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov of Russia and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday after their telephone conversation. »The two countries’ foreign ministers discussed current issues of further strengthening of comprehensive Russian-UAE ties, » the ministry said. « Special attention was focused on issues of practical implementation of agreements reached during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Abu Dhabi on October 15, 2019, and other bilateral top-level contacts. » Continuer à lire … « Russian, UAE top diplomats discuss situation in Libya, development of bilateral ties »