The establishment of a regional government in the east of the country went ahead this week. This government is not supported by the central government in Tripoli and has grown out of the separatist movement in the east.
Saif Gaddafi and others including Abdullah al-Senoussi have been formally indicted but as yet no trial date has been set. Some 38 former regime loyalists were referred for a variety of offences, of which 10 were in court in Tripoli to hear the charges read out. This did not include Saif Gaddafi who continues to be held by the Zintanis, who refuse to give him up to the central court authorities.
Just as things appeared to be getting back to normal in the Oil and Gas sector another disruption has broken out, this time with the Mellitah oil terminal being brought to a standstill by Amazigh (Berbers) activists demanding greater representation in the constitutional committee. The Sharara field has also suffered problems as workers have gone on strike over low pay and conditions.
Finally, the scale of weapons proliferation from Libya across the region was brought home this week by the discovery by Algerian forces of a large munitions dump just over the border from Libya in southern Algeria.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
Exports from Mellitah have now been interrupted for three days by the Amazigh protest that began on Sunday. The issue revolves around the critical committee charged with developing the new constitution for Libya. Their complaint is that currently the Amazigh community only has 2 of the 60 seats and therefore feels unrepresented given that they are the largest indigenous minority in Libya.
The munitions cache found in Algeria was near Illizi in the south of the country just over the border with Libya. It was significant given that it contained over 500 man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) for use against low-flying aircraft and helicopters, other anti-aircraft missiles, mines, automatic weapons, together with rocket propelled grenades and launchers. This find is but one of many such caches in or emanating from Libya that are being used and smuggled by criminals, terrorists, the tribes and the militias. The weapons are finding their way across the region from Algeria, Niger and Mali in the south and west to Egypt in the east and as far as other areas of conflict such as Syria. Currently there is little or no restriction on their movement with Libya’s porous borders and associated weak controls. It is a major area where the international community and the Libyan government must make headway by curbing and regulating these unrestricted flows of weaponry. Otherwise Libya and the wider region will be plagued with incidences of violence and instability in the years to come.
Sirte’s stability took another hit this week with the theft by gunmen of $54m from a van delivering currency, both Libyan Dinars and US Dollars, to the city. The currency had been flown in from Tripoli and was being moved into the city when the van that appears to have been accompanied by only one escort vehicle was attacked. Sirte has become increasingly unstable in recent weeks as Islamists have fought to gain control of it.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi is the head of the newly declared Barqa government, which has some 24 posts encompassing the four eastern provinces of Benghazi, Jebel Akhdar, Ajdabiya and Tobruk. The aim is to seize back control of its own destiny and resources from central government in Tripoli. There appears to be no attempt to break away completely and as such there is no Defence or Foreign Affairs mandate or portfolio. Barqa is the most developed of the separatist agendas in marked contrast to Fezzan that has declared similarly but is not so advanced in its thinking and organisation yet. What influence these entities will have is difficult to know at this early stage and much will depend upon the reaction of the central government and Ali Zeidan to them.
On Thursday another armed forces colonel, this time from the air force, was assassinated in Benghazi.