The security situation in Tripoli remains good. In general, the attitude towards Western personnel is positive, however, AKE sources on the ground have highlighted that there are still some people who view Westerners as working for foreign agencies and involved in subversive activities. This is likely to improve as more Westerners come into the city once the visa process becomes easier, and locals begin to see that the majority of Westerners are involved in industries related to the reconstruction. However, at present it is advised to have a Libyan national accompany you when walking around as this will reduce the threat. The risk of tensions increasing in the city remains, particularly as the democratic process is in its infancy and there are many hurdles to be crossed before political stability returns. Undoubtedly there will be elements among the population who disagree with the decisions being made.
Demonstrations by former rebel fighters over pay are still frequent, however these are generally peaceful. These typically take place outside major hotels in the city as the demonstrators are aware that this is where they will get the best media coverage. AKE assesses that there is an ongoing risk of low level violence associated with these demonstrations.
There is also a risk of further clashes between rival militia groups in the city as each seeks to gain a greater influence over the political events.
Clashes that flared up between rival militia groups from Zawiyah and the nearby tribal lands of Warshefana on 10 November killed at least seven people, raising further concerns over the potential for violence between different armed groups in a country awash with weapons. National Transitional Council (NTC) officials stated on 14 October that the fighting had ended, and a truce had 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.
Reports indicate that Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib met with both tribal leaders involved in the clashes and managed to broker an agreement to end the fighting. However, there is a risk of further clashes in the region if one side feels they are being treated unfairly or not getting their share of power and influence in the region.
AKE sources on the ground have reported increasing concerns over alleged mercenary elements crossing the borders from Sudan, Chad, Niger and Algeria. These elements are reported to be pro-Gaddafi, and there are also reports of them entering towns and villages to steal, rape and murder locals. These reports could not be independently verified.
AKE sources have also highlighted the problem of the country’s porous southern borders. It is reportedly possible to cross the borders at will without being challenged, a point which has serious implications for the country’s security, particularly given the widespread availability of weapons.
One of the main concerns of the NTC over the coming months will be to build the country’s national army, bringing the disparate militia factions under one umbrella, controlled from Tripoli by the country’s civilian leadership. At present however, the militias are taking it upon themselves to ensure security themselves, setting up road checkpoints, directing traffic and arresting those they regard as criminals.
However, as they are not yet accountable to a central authority, there have been many reports of revenge attacks and extra-judicial killings being carried out against those they see as being former Gaddafi supporters. Unchecked, this trend could lead to increasing lawlessness, with militia groups conducting operations at will that are designed to increase their own control over certain regions and increase their political influence. Further clashes between rival militia groups are also to be expected.