Libya has continued this week in a similar vein to previous weeks with continuing disruptions to its vital oil and gas production and exports, attempts by the government to curb the militias, militia clashes and further killings in the east of the country.
The issue in the oil and gas sector is so serious that the Prime Minister has admitted that the country may struggle to meet its budget expenditures from next month onwards if the strikes, blockades and disruptions continue.
Separately the government has once again sought to deal with the issue of overly powerful militias by stating that it will not be paying any forces outside the armed forces beyond the end of the year. Whether this attempt at enforced or incentivised integration will work is doubtful as the threats have been made before and to little effect.
The controversy surrounding the Libya Revolutionary Operations Room (LROR) continued this week as a result of the fallout from the Prime Minister’s abduction a few weeks back. There still appears to be division in the General National Congress whether they should be completely shutdown or merely lose their mandate for Tripoli or be subsumed within the Ministries of Defence and Interior. Other related initiatives include the adoption of a National Security Council model for the GNC with the President at its head but without unilateral powers.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
There were prolonged clashes in Tripoli on Thursday through into Friday between two militias that left at least 2 dead and some 30 wounded. It followed the death of the Misrata brigade commander, Nuri Friwan, at a checkpoint in the city. The Misratans retaliated by attacking parts of eastern Tripoli manned by those responsible. The clashes took place close at times to the Radisson Hotel that is frequented by the international community and business. Various districts of the city were affected including Suq al-Juma, Nufleen and Ben Ashour.
The Grand Mufti, Sheikh al-Ghariani, condemned this particular outbreak of violence and the general instability and fighting more widely in his Friday Prayers sermon. He referred to the ‘blind tribal allegiances’ of many regions and called on elders to disown those involved, which Misrata has already done. His calls are unlikely to effect change for very long.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
The east of the country suffered a number of killings in less than 24 hours this week. It started on Friday with the death of two Special Forces soldiers at a checkpoint in Benghazi, who were shot from a moving vehicle. It was followed by the killing of the public prosecutor for the Jebel Akhdar area when a bomb exploded beneath his car in his home town of Derna on Saturday. Two traffic policemen were then shot dead in al-Jala. Finally, a body of a Police colonel who had been shot in the dead was brought into the hospital in Benghazi late on Friday.
There was also an attempt to kidnap and/or assassinate another air force colonel in Benghazi when his home was surrounded by armed men. The situation that occurred on Friday evening was resolved by the timely appearance of armed air force personnel. The colonel had played a leading role in the revolution against Gaddafi. This is part of a continuing trend of targeted killings against members of the armed forces.