Politically this week the impact of the Egyptian Army deposing President Morsi has begun to affect the political balance and rhetoric within Libya particularly in relation to the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood or the Justice and Construction Party), which had up to this point had held far greater sway than the just over 10% of seats that it achieved in the elections for the General National Congress in 2012 by gathering to it many of the independent seats. The tide of anti-Islamist protest has grown in recent weeks and so whilst the Brotherhood may wish to show its solidarity with their ‘brothers’ in Egypt they know that they need to tread a careful and low-profile path for fear of further enflaming the anti-Islamist mood.
The spat between the Prime Minister and acting Army Chief of Staff continues to grow with Salem Gnaidi again criticizing the Ali Zeidan for the lack of progress in rebuilding the Libyan Armed Forces. He is playing a potentially dangerous game by using the national media to make his criticisms known, this time on Libya Awalan TV station. His criticisms this time were aimed at the proposal to create a National Guard in parallel to the Army. Only last week the resolution to create the National Guard was repealed so it is not yet clear what the final outcome will be. It is clear though that the Chief of Staff, even in his acting status, is fighting his corner for increased resources.
Separately the UK Government announced its intention to train up to 2,000 Libyan Armed Forces personnel in the UK at the Army Training Regiment barracks in Bassingbourn in basic infantry skills. The courses will be a minimum of 10 weeks in duration and take place in small batches. They are expected to start later this year. The initiative is part of a wider security capacity building programme being conducted by G8 nations to train more than 7,000 Libyans.
The disruptions in the oil and gas sector continue but with the good news that Zueitina Oil’s eastern port terminal is now open. This is of limited worth given that the fields themselves remain shut meaning that the only oil that is being exported is that already stored in the port.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
The Government has now managed to seize back control of the Interior Ministry in Tripoli from the group that had been besieging the building for over a week. The group was demanding the dismantling of the Supreme Security Committee. The issue of militias continues to dominate the west of Libya with Zintan and Misrata Brigades beginning to line up against each other for domination of the space. The spectre of further violence looms unless they can resolve their differences which does not seem likely in the short-term.
Sirte has seen its banks being closed in protest at a number of bank robberies with two of its banks having been robbed in the last 10 days. Ansar Al-Sharia believed to have been responsible for the attack on the US Consulate in September 2012, has announced that it is opening an office in Sirte. It has already started to address the security concerns of the town’s citizens through increased patrols and other measures designed to fill the perceived security vacuum.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
The runup to Ramadan with its increased shopping patterns has been the focus of security forces across Libya with the population being on the streets in greater numbers. This has particularly been the case in Benghazi where security forces and their presence have been significantly increased to prevent any direct targeting of the population.
Fezzan (South-western Libya)
Sabha continues to create concern over its insecurity and lawlessness. The most recent incident involved the attempted abduction of three Filipinos working in the local hospital. The abduction was thwarted when the nurses escaped on the edge of the town but is a reminder as to the state of insecurity in parts of the south of the country.