This week the oil strikes and disruptions persist with the eastern strikers continuing to hold out despite government pressure. The pressure being mooted by the commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard is to stop paying striking guards. The government despite its rhetoric has been cautious in the pressure it has been bringing for fear of inciting further disquiet amongst the tribes in the east. This fear is born out of the growing separatist agenda in Cyrenaica and concerns at the tribes coalescing around it. Separately a gas facility was shut down near Nalut by armed men believed to be Berbers. The Ministry of Electricity has warned that power outages are likely to occur as a result.
The fear of separatism is a real one as seen this week by reported statements that Fezzan, the south-west region of Libya, has declared as an autonomous federal province. It is reported that Nouri Mohammad al-Qouizi has already been announced as the President with the appointment of a military commander expected to be announced shortly. The rationale given by the tribes who announced this break was the ineptitude of the General National Congress and their lack of support and progress for the people of this region. Similar announcements have also been previously made in the eastern region of Cyrenaica in recent months.
Further detail emerged this week on the depth and strength of UK’s capacity building support to Libya through a series of statements by Andrew Murrison, UK’s International Security Strategy Minister. This follows on the back of David Cameron and Al Zeiden meeting at a Libya investment conference where it was agreed to create a 125m LD (£62.5m) Security, Justice and Defence Programme (SJD). This is in addition to the training being provided to 8,000 Libyan security forces. It is a comprehensive programme that will include officer training at UK’s three Service officer training academies and the setting up of Service advisory teams with the first step being the creation of a Libyan Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) school. It is a concrete sign of UK’s commitment to achieving the long-term stability of Libya. It comes at the same time as the Canadian government announced that it was repealing a law to allow it to supply non-lethal weapons to Libya in line with a recent UN resolution.
On a less optimistic note the campaign of targeted assassinations has continued in Benghazi and the east with three more this week. These come at the same time as the news of the losses that caused the closure of the US Special Forces training camp have come out and amount to a significant loss both in terms of the quantity and capability of the weaponry that was lost including specially modified vehicles, small-arms and night-vision goggles. The training team and its task was shut down in August as a result of the raid that resulted in these losses.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
It is believed that a journalist was kidnapped and his brother murdered this week as they travelled from Tripoli to Zintan, their home town. Taher al-Turki was the editor of the Tripoli-based paper Rawasi. It is not yet clear who was responsible for the attack and who is holding Taher.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
This week three security personnel were murdered in attacks in Benghazi. They included the Associate Director of Intelligence for Cyrenaica, a member of the Preventive Security Service and a helicopter pilot. The attacks were targeted shootings or under vehicle improvised explosive devices.