The 11th September anniversary of the World Trade Center attack and the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi passed off reasonably uneventfully except for the explosion that ripped through the former US Consulate building in Benghazi that now serves as offices for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Wednesday. A second bomb that had been timed to explode at the same time as the Benghazi device was defused near the MFA in Tripoli. Embassies had taken additional security measures to protect their staff; the US took the precautionary measure of pre-positioning military assets in Italy and offshore in the Mediterranean. In the event they were not required.
The disruptions to the Oil and Gas sector have continued again this week with the National Oil Corporation declared force majeure on crude loadings from the Mellitah, Zawiya and Marsa el-Hariga export terminals. The stoppage is assessed to be costing the Libyan Government $130m per day in lost revenue. Tripoli continues to suffer from shortages of fuel and water, and power outages.
Pressure continues to build on the Prime Minister to resign with the Muslim Brotherhood threatening to quit the cabinet and the leader of the Muslim-Brotherhood-affiliated Justice and Construction party, Mohammed Sawan, demanding that he go.
There have been further tribal clashes in the west of the country that have left 11 dead and scores wounded.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
There appears no end in sight to the debilitating strikes and stoppages to Libya’s vital Oil and Gas operations. The Prime Minister continues to threaten a military response and the strikers continue to hold to their line. Libya’s Attorney General has now issued arrest warrants for the strike leaders but as the strike is growing with a number of different constituencies it is difficult to identify who to target for arrest. If anything the disruption is growing with last week’s spread to the western fields now hardening. This is believed to be being instigated by the Zintanis, who are using the leverage of having shutdown the El-Feel and Esshara as a bargaining tool for a greater role and say in Libya’s security and political structures.
The Zintanis were also involved in clashes with the Garamna tribe near the Algerian border in the town of Derj. The clashes started over a personal dispute and led to 11 being killed and scores of others being wounded.
The beleaguered Prime Minister’s position has not been helped by his recent visit to Egypt that is seen as legitimising the recent military takeover when he met the interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour as well General al-Sisi. Not surprisingly the Party of Justice and Construction, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya has called for his resignation and threatened to withdraw its support completely including leaving the cabinet in protest.
It has taken some time for the normal water supply to be resumed to Tripoli following last week’s cutting of it in the wake of Anoud al-Senoussi’s kidnapping. The Water Resources Minister, Hadi Hinshir has faced a considerable task to recommence the flow and ensure that the water supply was correctly resumed - requiring the pumping of some 1m cubic metres through the pipeline network.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
Concerns were expressed concerning security over the anniversary of 11th September in Benghazi particularly when an extremist Islamist group sought to elicit which target they should attack when they are asked people on Facebook to vote for which target should be hit. The attack when it came took the form of a bomb that destroyed the former US Consulate building from some 50 years ago in Benghazi. The building is currently used to house MFA offices and while no injuries were caused by the blast it was entirely gutted. It is not yet clear exactly which group carried out the attack.