The oil and gas sector in the country has remained in turmoil this week with some ports closed and others open, even some of those open are still unable to export for lack of production from the fields that feed them. This is the case at Brega. In other places there is the production but not the facilities from which to export. The two offshore platforms Al Jurf and Bouri’s production levels are less than 10% of their capacity. The sector overall remains chaotic and sub-optimal.
The east of the country has continued to capture the attention this week both in terms of the continued violence and instability in Benghazi but also with the separatists conflicting agendas and assemblies. There have been a number of deaths in the city together with disturbances at the prison. In scenes reminiscent of Mont Python’s Life of Brian there are now the Cyrenaica Transitional Council and Political Bureau of Cyrenaica both declaring that they represent the east and vying for acceptance.
Italy has been prominent this week in terms of its offers of training of ‘Thuwars’ in Italy that should start shortly and also more significantly an announcement from the Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan that Italy would commence an aerial and electronic border surveillance project. Ali Zeidan spoke of this project covering an area from Awaynat, close to the Egyptian-Sudanese border, up to the meeting of the Libyan-Tunisian-Algerian borders. There was no detail beyond this so it is not yet clear when it might commence and in what guise.
Finally, there has been some reaction in the General National Congress to the Prime Minister’s forced abduction a couple of weeks ago with the President being forced to agree to dissolve the Libyan Revolutionaries’ Operations Room (LROR), seen to be at the centre of the abduction. This is being seen as a blow to Nouri Abusahmain’s power, who secured the LROR’s remit for the security of Tripoli only some 4 months ago. Alarmingly, although Tripoli has been relatively quiet this week reports are coming in of intermittent gunfire going on all day today in a suburb of Tripoli as two militias appear to be battling it out.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
Earlier in the week the body of the kidnapped bank manager, who had been held for 45 days was found in a suburb of Benghazi. Abdallatif Zuai had been shot several times. A ransom of LD 10m had been demanded by his kidnappers, the family was still unable to pay even when that demand was dropped to LD 6m.
On 2nd November a soldier was killed and another wounded in an explosion close to their checkpoint in Benghazi. The following day a member of the Martyrs of 17 February Brigade, a Salafist militia, and his immediate family who were travelling in his car with him were killed when device exploded under the vehicle. This led to demonstrations outside the Tibesty Hotel about public safety in the city. That same day violent disturbances occurred in the Kuafiya Prison in Benghazi following the overpowering of a guard. 16 inmates and one guard were injured as the authorities regained control within the prison.
The separatist chaos of competing councils in Cyrenaica came to the fore this week with Senoussi’s Transitional Council trying to distance itself from Ibrahim Jadhran’s Political Bureau. Senoussi claimed last week that he had tried to present a common vision but had been unable to reach agreement with Jadhran’s PBC. Both have now proclaimed themselves as the legitimate government in Cyrenaica and announced the composition of their respective cabinets. Jadhran holds the upper hand in terms of his hold on oil assets in the east where he has led the disruptions in the oil and gas sector but neither council has received any acknowledgement from Tripoli or the wider international community nor is likely to.