Libya's surging revolt against the regime of President Muammar Qadafi is threatening to engulf the country's oil industry as old tribal affiliations in the oil bearing area are beginning to come apart.
The head of the Al-Zuwayya tribe in eastern Libya told Al Jazeera that oil supplies would be cut in 24 hours if the regime did not stop the “oppression of protesters”.
The Al-Zuwayya tribe has its stronghold south of Benghazi, now mostly in control of the opposition following heavy fighting. The city fell after reinforcements sent to smash the revolt, sided with the protesters, contributing even tanks and heavy weapons to bolster the uprising.
With the rebellion continuing to gather steam, BP, the energy firm from Britain, has reportedly said it would suspend operations and evacuate its personnel from Libya. The European Union countries buy nearly 75 per cent oil produced by Libya.
In his televised address in the early hours on Monday, Seif al-Islam el-Qadhafi, the President's son also abraded the psychological comfort of well-being that Libyans draw on account of their massive oil wealth. He warned that people could “forget oil and petrol,” in case a civil war, feeding into tribal affiliations of loyalty, engulfed Libya.
Quryna newspaper, which has ties with Mr. Seif-al-Islam, said the oil town of Ras Lanuf had been rocked by protests. Workers were now being assembled to protect the refinery complex from attacks. Meanwhile, in Bahrain's Pearl Roundabout, now the nerve centre of the pro-democracy campaign, protesters were charting out demands in anticipation of talks with the monarchy. A group calling itself the “Youth of February 14” after the day of the first marches, is calling for the “overthrow of the oppressive Al Khalifa regime”. In its manifesto, the group has demanded an elected government. Seeking to reverse the “demographic engineering” carried out by the government, the group wants the monarchy to cancel citizenship granted to thousands of foreigners, apparently to undermine the island's dominant Shia majority population.