The strictures of Law 27 – the removal of all militias from Tripoli – have continued to be felt this week. The Misratans were the first to depart and during the week Islamist and Zintani militia elements have also started to depart the capital. The public backlash has continued all week and has acted to reinforce the message leading to the militia withdrawals.
Steps are being taken by the government to ensure that the capital is properly protected and that the militias cannot regain their foothold in the capital.
Matters have been made worse this week by Amazigh action that has hit fuel supplies from the Wafa field to a key power station, Ruwais. This has resulted in power cuts and outages in Tripoli and other western areas.
Benghazi has continued to be affected by violence with sustained clashes between Special Forces in the city and the Islamist militia Ansar Al-Sharia that began on Sunday and have now continued through into Monday. So far it is believed that nine people may have been killed and a further 49 wounded in the clashes.
Meanwhile Ali Zeidan met with US Secretary of State, John Kerry and the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague in London on Sunday to discuss the security situation in Libya.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
Militias have continued to leave Tripoli this week as a result of the enforcement of Law 27 that forbids their armed presence in the capital. Regardless of allegiance, political or tribal affiliation all appear to be conforming to the instruction although there are concerns that personnel and equipment is just be moved around within the capital rather than being withdrawn completely. These concerns have led the Tripoli Council to call for a second week of concerted strikes in order to maintain the pressure on the government and militias to act. The withdrawals of militias do not, however, include the forfeiting or enforced disposal of their arms and equipment so they remain as well-armed and capable as they ever were.
The government meanwhile has moved towards instituting a security plan that will involve permanent checkpoints at Tripoli’s nine major entry points. The checkpoints will be manned by the Military Police, a reliable and capable trained regular unit of the Army. The Defence Minister also mentioned at his weekly press conference that some 3,000 additional troops had been deployed across the city since the first militias started to pull-out.
The Amazigh protests at their perceived lack of representation on the constitutional committee are now impacting the capital and western regions with powercuts and outages as a result of their stranglehold on the Wafa oil field and its supply pipelines to the Ruwais power station. There is no sign of the Amazigh Supreme Council wanting to compromise until their representation on the constitutional committee is increased together with the enshrinement of cultural aspects such the adoption of Amazigh as the national language. Their demands are currently before the General National Congress for consideration.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
Violence has continued in Benghazi for another week this time starting with the wounding of the son of the commander of the Zawia Martyrs Brigade. The son is a member of the Special Forces brigade in Benghazi and was shot and wounded close to his home in the Sabri district of the city. His condition is not known.
Intense clashes continue between the Special Forces brigade and Ansar Al-Sharia, an Islamist militia considered to be responsible for the over-run of the US Consulate and the death of the US Ambassador in Benghazi. The clashes began on Sunday evening and are believed to have been created by the hot pursuit of a suspect by the Special Forces into the Ansar Al-Sharia controlled area, Ras Obeida. Clashes were still ongoing on Monday morning with some 9 killed and 49 believed wounded.