Weekly Security Review

Projections

Tripoli will remain stable, although there is an ongoing risk of sporadic clashes on the outskirts of the city involving militia groups and National Army units.

In the West of the country the risk of clashes is assessed to be higher by AKE personnel on the ground. In recent months clashes have occurred in the Warshafenna tribal areas to the west of the capital, the city of Gharyan to the south and Bani Walid to the south east. The potential for further clashes in these areas remains.

Benghazi will remain stable, although there is a risk of further demonstrations by workers calling for better pay and conditions, as well as rebels asking for increased compensation for their actions during the eight month conflict.

Tripoli

Tripoli remains stable, and movement around the city is relatively free. There are some permanent checkpoints towards the outskirts of the city, including the entrance to major districts such as Tajura and on the airport road towards Tripoli International Airport, however these are not generally stopping traffic.

AKE sources on the ground noted an increased security presence on 26 January around the city's major hotels, with an increased number of checkpoints around the centre of the city, where the majority of major hotels are located. The presence was once again reduced the on 27 January and it remains unclear whether the increased presence was in response to a specific threat or the recent instability in a number of areas in the West of the country.

Benghazi

Protestors stormed the Benghazi headquarters of the interim ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) on 21 January as demonstrations over the continued presence of Gaddafi-era officials in the organisation escalated. Protestors have been demonstrating, largely peacefully, for weeks and AKE has previously highlighted potential for sporadic violence. Former rebel fighters have also been demonstrating over the level of cash compensation received from the NTC. There is an ongoing risk of further violence of this nature.

Strikes have also been reported in Benghazi, largely involving both private and public sector workers calling for better pay and conditions. Furthermore, there are tensions in many organisations with workers who are demanding they receive their full salaries for time out of work during the 8 month conflict. Demonstrations of this nature are likely to occur in Benghazi and other major towns and cities throughout the country.

Bani Walid   

Tribal fighters reportedly loyal to Muammar Gaddafi seized the previous regime stronghold of Bani Walid, 110 miles south east of Tripoli, on 23 January. Reports suggest the attack was launched by 100-150 well armed, well organised men. The incident has highlighted the weakness of central authority in the region and raised concerns about a potential slide towards further instability and violence.

The NTC has been forced to recognise the tribally-based local government council, demonstrating its ineffectiveness when faced with stiff resistance by local tribal leaders. Members of the Warfalla tribe in Bani Walid stated that defence minister Osama al-Juwali accepted the new council’s authority during day-long talks in the town on 25 January, meaning the government has effectively ceded a large degree of control of the town to the local tribal elders.

Although the armed men who carried out the attack were framed in many reports as Gaddafi loyalists, the uprising was likely more to do with ongoing distrust and disagreements with the NTC and other militia groups who ensure security in the region, as opposed to any ideological attachment to the previous regime.

Meanwhile, Imbarak al-Futmani, the militia commander whose forces driven out of the town, stated on 27 January that his forces were massing to move back in, but were holding back at the government’s request. The statement highlights the volatility of the region at present, where further clashes are likely over the short to medium term.

Islamist Demonstrations   

Hundreds of Islamist demonstrators turned out in central areas of Tripoli, Benghazi and Sabha to demand that the countries new constitution be based on Shari’a law. Organisers said the move was a response to the emergence of secular parties following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Prior to the overthrow of the former regime, no political parties existed in Libya, a fact that likely helped to prevent unity from forming between different tribal groups and regions.

Both the conservative Muslim Brotherhood and various Salafist groups were present, both of whom follow relatively conservative versions of Islam. The Brotherhood is believed to be the most organised group in the country at present, a fact that may help it gain significant ground in upcoming elections.

 

Alan Fraser is a Libya specialist with AKE, a British risk mitigation company working in Libya throughout the crisis. You can access AKE’s intelligence website Global Intake here.

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