The crisis that is paralysing Libya’s Oil and Gas sector has reached such serious proportions that the country is now reduced to importing fuel to keep the lights on and the traffic going. The strikes and blockades have now firmly spread also to the west of the country with the government now controlling only two of the country’s ports with production down below 160,000 barrels per day.
The chaos of Libya’s security situation was well illustrated this week with the bizarre incident that saw Anoud al-Senoussi, the daughter of Abdullah al-Senoussi, Gaddafi’s head of intelligence leave al-Rayoumi prison in Tripoli having visited her father only to be kidnapped when the Judicial Police convoy that was carrying her was ambushed. It then emerged that her kidnappers were part of the government-sanctioned Supreme Security Committee, who then put out a statement on Facebook saying that they had done so for her own protection to prevent others doing similarly. A stand-off followed with her tribe, the Megraha taking control of Tripoli’s water supplies through the power to the pumps that keep the water flowing to the northwest and threatening to shut them down. Anoud has now been released and was flown to Sebha back to her home ending an extraordinary sequence of events that captures in microcosm Libya’s challenges.
The Prime Minister and his government finds itself under continuing pressure with the grand Mufti this week demanding its dismissal on account of its incompetence in managing the country. In a statement issued at the weekend Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani railed against the government’s inability to fulfil the basic requirements of governing ending with the apocryphal line of ‘history is unforgiving and the retribution of God is inescapable’.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
Access to fuel and water has been the issue this week in Tripoli due to the disruptions to the Oil and Gas sector and as a result of the Anoud al-Senoussi kidnapping. With the kidnapping being resolved water has begun to flow again but the disruption to the oil production and export sector remains entrenched and worsening. The spread to the west has seen the huge Elephant field being shut down and then around Zintan the cutting of the pipelines. It is extraordinary that Libya now finds itself having to import fuel for its own domestic needs. Currently no end appears in sight for the beleaguered government and its struggling people.
The Grand Mufti’s statement released on Friday will not have helped the government’s cause as it attempts to regain the initiative. Frustrations with its poor performance continue as shown this week with a disgruntled officer opening fire on the Prime Minister’s office’s gates. No damage was done and the officer was successfully overpowered.
The tribal fighting between the Zaiwa and Warshefana has started again following the inexplicable withdrawal of the Libya Shield partition forces. The truce that had been brokered had held for a week until it was broken on Saturday night and although there were reports of heavy bouts of firing no casualties have as yet been reported. It is not clear why the Libya Shield forces withdrew and whether they are going to re-insert between the two tribes.
Sirte has seen violent clashes this week with fighting in the centre of the town resulting in the confirmed death of at least one. Separately two soldiers were killed and third wounded when their vehicle was ambushed on the coast road east of Sirte. The soldiers were on their way home to Benghazi from Tripoli when the ambush occurred.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
Again in Benghazi there was an assassination attempt against a Special Forces officer, the attempt failed.
Separately on 6th September the Police were able to surround a group of armed men following an attack on a police checkpoint near the eastern town of Sousa. A standoff has ensued with an ultimatum to surrender by today being issued. The attack on the checkpoint resulted one policeman being wounded and two of the attackers. The attackers are believed to be Islamist extremists.