AKE Oil Regions Assessment
AKE personnel on the ground have visited Libya’s major oil regions and will be releasing an assessment of the security situation at major facilities along the coast and in the Sirte and Murzuq basins. For details on how to receive a copy of the report contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Security in Tripoli will remain generally positive, although there is a risk of further clashes and demonstrations as the anniversary of the initial uprising approaches on 17 February. AKE assesses there is a risk of attacks by remaining Gaddafi loyalist throughout the country, timed to coincide with the celebrations. Although it remains clear if any loyalist elements retain the capability of launching significant attacks, AKE assesses that the lack of coordination and training among the security forces in the country could exacerbate the impact of any potential attacks.
Other major cities in the country will also remain relatively stable. In Benghazi there is an ongoing risk of strikes and demonstrations that could disrupt travel around the city. These will bring the potential for further low-level violence, although will remain largely peaceful. Media personnel covering the demonstrations should be prepared for the possibility of a hostile reception should levels of frustration rise and should be mindful to monitor the mood of the crowd.
Political stalemate will remain to a degree over major issues, although efforts to bring the disparate militia groups under the control of the NTC will continue. The government will likely face continued resistance from a number of major groups who remain determined to gain as much influence as possible before cashing in on their substantial bargaining position.
Five people were shot dead at their makeshift refugee camp in the Janzour area of the capital Tripoli on 6 February. The residents of the camp are refugees from the town of Tawergha who claim that they are being persecuted for allegedly supporting Muammar Gaddafi during the eight-month conflict. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the attackers were Misratan rebels who believed a number of mercenaries that fought for the Gaddafi regime forces were housed there. Attacks of this nature have been relatively common throughout the country since the uprising, when reports of sub-Saharan mercenaries committing atrocities on behalf of the Gaddafi regime led to revenge attacks on black African individuals and communities. There are also reported to be large numbers of alleged mercenaries currently being held without access to legal representation for their alleged support for the former regime. There is a high risk of further incidents of this nature occurring throughout the country, although the risk is highest in the west where levels of instability remain relatively high in some areas.
Separately, Syrian and Libyan demonstrators hurled rocks, eggs and tomatoes at the Chinese embassy in Tripoli on 6 February, in a protest against Russia and China’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution backing an Arab plan calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Further demonstrations of this nature are likely at Chinese and Russian embassies and assets throughout the country. Both countries are also viewed with a degree of suspicion in Libya due to their lack of involvement and expressed reservations over the intervention that resulted in the overthrow of the previous regime.
On another issue, AKE personnel have heard a number of reports of journalists being intimidated when they arrive at the scene of clashes in the capital. There have been a number of incidents in the city in recent weeks, involving clashes between rival militia groups, in which similar reports have been received. Personnel are advised to be vigilant when approaching the scene of potential clashes and be mindful that they may not be welcome and able to operate freely. A local fixer or translator may help ease any tensions and misunderstandings and prevent escalation to intimidation on the part of the militia groups present.
AKE personnel on the ground in Tripoli also received reports of a clash in the Sahere area. It remains unclear who was involved in the clash, but reports indicate a number of militia groups may have been fighting over control of a villa formerly owned by Aisha Gaddafi. There have been a number of clashes involving rival militia groups over control of former Gaddafi residences in the city in recent months.
AKE personnel on the ground have also highlighted reports that the clash at the former residence of Saadi Gaddafi on 1 February, which was initially reported as involving militia groups from Misrata and Zintan, occurred when local Tripoli-based militiamen attempted to evict Misratan militiamen who were occupying the residence. The reports could not be independently verified, but if true highlight the degree of frustration felt by locals at the continued presence of outside militia groups in the city. Further clashes of this nature are likely, particularly as militia groups from Misrata and Zintan maintain control of a number of key assets in the city.
17 February Celebrations
Military officials stated on 8 February that former Gaddafi loyalists could carry out attacks in the country on 17 February, the date celebrated as the anniversary of the uprising that ousted the former dictator. The new Army chief Col. Yussef al-Mangush issued the warning while he was meeting with military attaches of foreign embassies in the capital.
There is a heightened risk of clashes falling on this date, which has become hugely symbolic following the fall of the former regime. However, AKE assesses that the risk of attacks by former loyalist elements exists throughout the country, and there is potential for attacks at any time. The risk is assessed to be higher in Tripoli, where there is also an ongoing risk of clashes between rival militia groups and general lawlessness.
In Benghazi, security has been better due to the lack of symbolic locations and the lack of any outside militia groups in the city, which has allowed for greater stability and co-ordination of security measures.
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.