The expected drama of Saif Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senoussi appearing together in court in Tripoli did not occur this week with confusion over whether Saif would or would not appear. Instead on Thursday Senoussi attended his pre-trail court hearing in Tripoli along with 36 others charged with counts of murder, conspiracy to murder and human rights crimes during the revolution. Saif Gaddafi was not released by the Zintanis who hold him there despite being instructed to do so by Libya’s Attorney General. Instead he appeared in court in Zintan charged with the lesser crime of trying to escape whilst in custody.
The Zintanis did, however, deliver some good news to the government this week when they opened the valves controlling the oil flow from Libya’s two large western oil fields to the oil port terminals outside Tripoli. The National Oil Corporation was able to lift force majeure on its two western ports of Zawiya and Mellitah as a result. This has re-established 1/3 of the country’s oil production and flow.
Ali Zeidan and David Cameron, the Prime Ministers of Libya and the UK respectively, met this week at a Libya investment conference in London and discussed amongst other issues affecting Libya the critical areas of border security, disarmament and Security Sector Reform. Reducing the availability of weapons in Libya, many of which now appear to be being smuggled to Syria, and re-integrating the militias into alternative sustainable livelihoods are the vital components. There was an acceptance by Ali Zeidan that without external support Libya has a long road to travel back to normalcy. It is clear whatever happens that there is still a long way to go.
Although it does appear on the back of a number of presentations from commercial companies that the Defence Ministry is close to signing a contract for a comprehensive equipment package comprising mobile and static capabilities aimed at securing Libya’s borders more effectively.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
Security incidents of note this week in Tripoli were the killing on 21st September of the commander of one of the Tripoli SSC units in Gurji, a western suburb. Then on Sunday seven members of a criminal gang were shot dead by Police in the midst of a robbery in a lane off the Airport Road.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
Yet again targeted assassinations have taken place in Benghazi. This week an officer from the Benghazi Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Imraja El-Uraibi, was killed by an under vehicle improvised explosive device detonating under his car. Separately, a businessman was shot dead on 23 September in his car; the motive for the killing is believed to be tied to a property dispute in Benghazi’s Hawari district.
Of note this week was the murder of a key Sufi cleric, which is the first killing of a religious figure so far in amongst the other targeted killings in the east of the country. Sheikh Al-Mahjoubi was murdered on Friday in Derna. The killing is believed to have been committed by salafists and is an ominous step in the wrong direction.