The security situation in Tripoli is described as positive. However, AKE sources on the ground have reported an increasing degree of frustration among the population over the speed at which the NTC has been able to make positive progress. If the situation is not seen to improve markedly over the coming weeks, there is potential for demonstrations and possible violence related to these frustrations.
A group of revolutionary fighters reportedly demonstrated outside the Blue Radisson hotel on 5 November. They were calling for improved pay and conditions, and targeted the hotel due to the high presence of media staying there. The protest is a further sign of the tensions and growing frustration felt by many over the pace of reconstruction. It also raises the issue of the former rebel fighters, not all of whom will be able to become part of a new national army. There is therefore a risk of violence involving armed former rebel fighters who become disaffected with the new regime.
There have been a number of clashes in recent weeks, and with the military brigades commanded by Abdulhakim Belhadj being granted control of security in the city there is potential for further clashes as different militia groups jostle for position and influence.
On 7 and 8 October a large group of families of prisoners accused of being involved in the security apparatus of the Gaddafi regime rallied outside the makeshift prison where they were being held in Tripoli. Tensions surrounding the treatment of detainees accused of collusion with Gaddafi are also likely to result In further demonstrations, and the NTC may also receive criticism for holding suspects without trial.
Security is reported to be good in Benghazi. The attitude towards foreign and western personnel is described as positive and services in the city are good. However, AKE assesses that there is an ongoing risk of attacks by remaining Gaddafi loyalists, while levels of crime remain a concern in certain areas.
AKE sources on the ground have highlighted that the majority of vehicle checkpoints in the country are manned by young men and boys. Reports indicate that the presence of 13 and 14 year old armed children at checkpoints is not uncommon. This carries with it the very real risk that seemingly innocuous incidents could escalate to into violence and AKE assesses that it poses a significant security concern for personnel travelling in the country.
Clashes flared up between rival militia groups from Zawiyah and the nearby tribal lands of Warshefana on 10 November, and lasted for four days, killing at least seven people. National Transitional Council (NTC) officials stated on 14 October that the fighting had ended, and a truce has reportedly been agreed. AKE has long identified the problem of creating unity between the country’s disparate militia groups and bringing them under a single military umbrella as the biggest challenge facing the NTC.
AKE sources on the ground have reported growing signs of tension between separate militia factions throughout the country. There have been growing fears that many of the separate militias may not accept coming under a single national army, and will want to maintain their independence in order to exert a greater influence over the reconstruction process.
Former rebels from Zintan, in the Western Nafusa Mountains region, are reportedly selling their own flag in a bid to foster regional unity. There have also been reports of continuing tensions between militia groups from Misrata, Benghazi and Tripoli, which have already spilled over into clashes in the capital.
Alan Fraser is a Libya specialist with AKE, a British risk mitigation company working in Libya throughout the crisis. You can access AKE’s intelligence website Global Intake here, and you can obtain a free trial of AKE’s Iraq intelligence reports here.