The security situation in Tripoli remains good. In general, the attitude towards western personnel is positive, however AKE sources on the ground have reported a degree of suspicion among some sections of the population. Personnel are not advised to spend large amounts of time outside without a Libyan national accompanying them.
AKE sources on the ground have reported that protests took place outside the passport and immigration office on 24 November, resulting in the office being closed, with no visas being issued until further notice.
A statement by Tripoli militia leader, Abdullah Naker who expressed his respect for the new government, has reduced concerns that political tensions may spill over into street violence. Naker had previously threatened that his men could attempt to overthrow the incoming government if it failed to meet their demands for representation. However, his recent statement went further, indicating a readiness to shift the allegiance of the militia under his control to the defence and interior ministries, although no time scale for this transition was given. Despite this statement, the risk of clashes in the city between rival militias, as well as those sympathetic to the former regime, remains.
Demonstrations by former rebel fighters over pay are still frequent however, these are generally peaceful. They 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.
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 still a risk of attacks by remaining Gaddafi loyalists, while levels of crime remain a concern in certain areas.
A number of demonstrations were reported over the last week, since the announcement of the new cabinet by Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib, involving tribal activists who expressed their anger at their perceived lack of representation in the new government. Similar demonstrations are likely to re-occur, although there have been no reports of major disruption caused.
At least seven people were killed in clashes between loyalists of former leader Muammar Gaddafi and NTC-backed fighters in Bani Walid on 23 November. The clash began following a high-speed chase in which the NTC fighters were pursuing a vehicle suspected of carrying Gaddafi loyalists. Five of those killed in the resultant clash were reported to be members of the NTC forces.
Bani Walid was the penultimate city to fall to rebel fighters, days before the fall of Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte. AKE sources on the ground have reported heightened tensions in those towns and cities that held out the longest against the rebel advance, while NTC military officials have long suspected that Gaddafi loyalists remained in certain areas of these cities.
Marginal Tribal Figures Reject New Government
A number of tribal figures stated that they will not recognise the newly appointed government. The cabinet was designed to placate regional rivalries and so far the majority of major players have appeared happy with their level of representation. Nevertheless, in Benghazi groups of demonstrators, led by the Awagi and Maghariba tribes, expressed their anger at not being represented in the new cabinet. Further demonstrations by those not included in the cabinet are likely to spring up throughout the country.
The task of making every section of society feel they are being represented in the new government is likely to prove extremely difficult, if not impossible. Further demonstrations by disgruntled tribal groups will likely occur after the majority of significant political decisions over the short to medium term.
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.