Tripoli will remain stable although there is a risk of further sporadic clashes involving different militia groups, which maintain a presence in some outlying areas of the city. The process of integrating militia groups into the national army will continue, although it may be some time before an NTC-controlled body is in control of the entire city.
The risk of clashes in other major cities along the Mediterranean coast will also remain. Those cities that were liberated by outside forces, including Sirte, Bani Walid, Bin Jawad and Brega, are more at risk of inter-factional tensions. Benghazi will also remain calm and there is less risk of inter-factional clashes than in other major cities.
The NTC will continue the process of integrating former rebel fighters into national security forces and wider society. Further investment in this area is likely given the size of the challenge.
On 8 January a French ex-serviceman was shot dead in his apartment by an unidentified assailant. The man, who had retired from the military, was reportedly working in Libya, although further details surrounding the incident were unclear. The killing was an isolated incident and there is no evidence that Western personnel operating in the city could become targets.
The security situation in Tripoli remains stable. AKE sources on the ground have previously highlighted the reduced presence of militia groups on the streets and a significant reduction in the number of checkpoints in the city over the last month. The majority of the armed security presence in the city is ostensibly operating under the national army umbrella. Most of those fighters who make up the national army in the city previously belonged to militia brigades from Tripoli; however, it also includes fighters from Benghazi and Misrata. The police presence in the city remains low, and the visible presence appears at times to be limited to traffic direction. However, the presence is likely to increase over the coming months as the city continues to return to normal.
The International Airport remains under the control of Zintan militiamen, and there are reported to be other militia groups present in outlying areas of the city. The transition towards a unified centrally-controlled security force in the capital has made significant progress in recent months, although further steps are required to create a lasting solution, with militia groups remaining in control of significant areas of territory. AKE sources on the ground assess that the risk of sporadic clashes involving militia groups remains, as does the potential for revenge operations by militiamen targeting alleged Gaddafi loyalists.
Two people were killed and at least 16 others were wounded on 13 and 14 January during clashes between rival militia groups near the town of Gharyan, south of the capital Tripoli. A Gharyan city council spokesman stated that fighters from the nearby town of Assabia, which he claimed was home to at least 70 known former Gaddafi loyalists, had fired artillery and rockets at Gharyan, provoking a response from local militiamen.
Defence Minister Osama al-Juwali reportedly contacted officials in Gharyan and requested that they cease firing. AKE continues to warn of the risk posed by sporadic clashes throughout the country. Those areas where local rivalries are inflamed by the recent arming of local militias are proving to be particularly susceptible to sporadic fighting, and a number of clashes have occurred in the west of the country, to the south and west of the capital Tripoli.
A government committee, the Warriors Affairs Committee, will be assigned to help integrate former rebel fighters back into civilian life and will be allocated an initial budget of US$8bln, according to the head of the new committee, Moustafa al-Sagizli. He also stated that each government ministry will be allocating around US$2bln to fund volunteers to travel abroad for language and computer training, and to give micro-credit loans to help find work and start new businesses.
AKE has long highlighted that the greatest challenge facing the NTC will be reintegrating back into society the tens of thousands of rebel fighters who liberated the country from the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The latest statement demonstrates that the interim regime is aware of the size of the challenge; however, militiamen who continue to occupy a number of major cities and are providing security to the southern oilfields will be reluctant to hand over their arms in return for promises of investment, and will require tangible benefits.
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.