Events in Libya this week have been overshadowed by the Libya Shield Brigade shooting dead over 31 protesters and wounding a further 100 in Benghazi on Saturday. The violence stemmed from a demonstration that was demanding the disbandment of the Shield Brigade and other militias. The Brigade was under nominal military control as part of the initiative that placed the militias within the structure of the Armed Forces. Following on the Army Chief of Staff, who was due to be leaving office shortly, has now formally resigned with immediate effect. The General National Congress accepted Youssef al-Mangoush’s resignation on Sunday following a closed session on the events of Saturday. 3 days of national mourning have been announced by the acting head of the GNC, Juma Ateega. The regular Libyan Army has subsequently taken control of a number of the Shield Brigade’s bases.
Separately but related to the general sense of disorder in the east of the country Cyrenaica Federalists took control of the local council office in Beida on 4th June in protest at their refusal to endorse their agenda. An agenda that was given a shot in the arm by the announcement that the National Oil Corporation (NOC) amongst others is moving its national offices back to Benghazi from Tripoli. Gaddafi centralised many of the key functions and commercial entities in Tripoli back in the 70s.
Concern at the actual and perceived insecurity in the south of the country has attracted the attention of the Prime Minister who flew to Kufra on 3rd June to address the issues. This comes on the back of security summits on the region held in Tripoli and continued security challenges whether the President of Niger’s recent comments in relation to the two suicide attacks and inter-tribal fighting or other incidents of instability.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
Nothing significant to report.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
The indiscipline of the Libya Shield Brigade resulting in Saturday’s dead and wounded is a symptom of the failure of the Government to instigate and then implement meaningful Security Sector Reform. There is little formal control or institutionalised training resulting in large bodies of well-armed yet poorly trained militiamen on the streets with a mandate to enforce the states’s monopoly on violence according to their interpretation of the law and what is required. This arch of instability has continued to build following the lethal attack on the US Consulate back in September last year. The area has become a hotbed of competing interests whether Islamists or Federalist in nature. The only hope can be that this tragic event turns the pressure onto the Government and the Militias themselves to disband or properly integrate themselves into the Armed Forces.
Fezzan (South-western Libya)
Production continues to be halted at the Elephant or El Feel oilfield as the demonstrations continue. NOC is attempting to placate the protesters with announcements about the establishment of an exploration facility in Sabha and a refinery in Ubari, both employing locals.