There appears no let up by the government in Libya over concerns regarding the security situation countrywide. The Prime Minister has now formed a smaller crisis Cabinet to deal with security issues. Troops have also been deployed widely across Tripoli to key areas of the city. This may well be in response to the Misuratans and Zintanis moving into the city with the potential for major flare-ups between these two heavily armed groups.
The attacks and assassinations in Benghazi and the east more broadly over the past 6 months continued again this week. Human Rights Watch has highlighted the trend in a recent report identifying that some 51 people have been killed in political assassinations in Benghazi and Derna with little or no resulting arrests or investigation of the perpetrators. This week military and police officers were again targeted but also a well-known presenter on a satellite television was killed.
Murder charges have now been laid against Ahmed Abu Khatala as the leader of Ansar Al-Sharia and the man who is believed to have led the assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi last September leading to the death of US Ambassador Stevens.
Oilfields and terminals also continue to be affected by strikes and industrial action. This continues to affect the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf terminals together with the Zueitina port and El Feel field.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
The Prime Minister’s slimmed down security cabinet consists of himself, the Interior Minister Mohamed Sheikh, the newly appointed Defence Minister Abdullah Al-Thani, the Justice Minister Salah Marghani and the Finance Minister, Abdulkarim Al-Kilani. It will meet daily whilst there is a call for it to do so; separately normal full cabinet meetings with respective ministers will occur over and above the daily security meetings.
As part of the security plan for the Eid al-Fitr celebrations and wider the Libyan Army has deployed across the capital in sizeable force including some 100 armoured personnel carriers. This should provide a degree of reassurance for the population and a stiffer security architecture across the city. Critically it may serve to keep the Misuratans and Zintanis apart as so far there have been small confrontations on the outskirts of the city.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
On 7th August it was confirmed that murder charges had been filed in a US federal court against Ahmed Abu Khatala regarding the attack last September on the US Consulate. It is believed that 11 charges have been filed against him. He is believed to have led the attacks that killed Ambassador Stevens together with three others and gutted the consulate in Benghazi. He strenuously denies the charges stating that he has nothing to do with any Islamist militia but is a construction contractor in the city.
Eid Al-Fitr has not lessened the violence in Benghazi and the east this week. A Under Vehicle IED (UVIED) exploded killing the driver on 6th August again in Benghazi. The 8th August saw an RPG attack on the city’s Airport Road against the shops there. On 9th August Azzedine Kousad, a presenter in the satellite television station al-Hurra was killed when gunmen opened fire on his car.