AKE’s Middle East specialist Alan Fraser is currently in Libya, studying security conditions, particularly those affecting reconstruction, business travellers and the energy sector. He will also be participating in an AKE assessment of security conditions around oil infrastructure in the country. The completed report will likely be of interest to many. If you or any of your colleagues would like to know more about the assessment or our work in Libya please contact [email protected] If you would like to arrange a meeting with AKE in the country please send an email directly to [email protected]
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, Gharyan, Bani Walid, Bin Jawad and Brega are more at risk of inter-factional tensions.
Benghazi will largely remain calm and there is less risk of inter-factional clashes than in other major cities, however demonstrations calling for increased compensation to former rebel fighters and for former Gaddafi era officials to be banned from the NTC continue to have the potential for violence.
Conditions remain outwardly calm in Tripoli. There are no longer large numbers of militia fighters roaming the streets and AKE personnel on the ground describe conditions as favourable, organised and relatively peaceful. There will remain the risk of sporadic clashes between rival militia groups if they return to the city – which will remain a likelihood over the transition period of the coming months. There is also the ongoing potential for terrorist attacks by supporters of the former regime.
Protestors stormed the Banghazi headquarters of the interim ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) on 21 January as demonstrations over the continued presence of Gaddafi-era officials in the organisation escalated. Demonstrators have been demonstrating, largely peacefully, for weeks and AKE has previously highlighted potential for sporadic violence. Former rebel fighters have also been demonstrating over the cash compensation received from the NTC. There is an ongoing risk of further violence of this nature.
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 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 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.
There have been a number of rumours of unlawful summary detentions of foreign personnel in the Sabha area. Although no details have yet been confirmed, personnel operating in the region are advised to maintain a high level of vigilance in and around the southern desert region. Those rumoured to be detained were reportedly released soon afterwards. The reports however, could not be independently verified. Security is being provided by militia groups from Zintan and movement around the area will be greatly improved if personnel travel with a Zintani guide, or a Libyan national with contacts among the militia group.
National Police Force
Libya’s Interior Ministry opened its doors on 14 January to members of the country’s militia groups looking to sign up to a national police force. However, after 24-hours, only 100 new recruits had signed up, demonstrating the challenge facing the NTC in amalgamating the militias under a single, centrally controlled umbrella. The majority of those who did sign up were from smaller militias which lacked the power to threaten the authority of the NTC. Those from the larger militia groups, particularly those from Zintan, Misrata and Benghazi, have remained reluctant to disband for fear of losing their ability to influence events, and ostensibly to safeguard the revolution from any remaining pro-Gaddafi groups.
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.