Weekly Security Review

Projections

Tripoli will remain calm, although the risk of clashes between rival militia groups in the city will remain. Although it remains unclear to what extent elements formerly loyal to the Gaddafi regime remain, and if they possess the capability to carry out attacks in the country, the risk of attacks by those opposed to the revolution and the current interim process will endure.

The risk of detention of foreign personnel will remain throughout those areas less travelled. Personnel in more remote areas, or cities deemed to be less stable such as Sirte and to the south towards Jabal Nafusa, are at risk of being viewed with suspicion by local militia groups and national army factions.

The risk of kidnap in southern areas near the borders with Algeria, Niger and Chad, also remains. Since the beginning of the conflict in February 2011, there have been a number of reports of kidnappings of Western personnel in the west of the country, to the south of Tripoli.

Tripoli

Tripoli remains calm, although there is an ongoing risk of clashes between rival militia groups who remain in control of key areas on the outskirts of the city, and who have clashed in both central and outlying areas in recent months. Areas around Tripoli International Airport, the airport highway and former compounds belonging to members of the Gaddafi family which are now occupied by militia groups, are assessed to be most at risk of clashes.

AKE sources on the ground report that possible tensions could result in clashes around the former women’s military base at the end of the Corniche road near the Marriott hotel and Souq al-Thalata roundabout. The base is currently occupied by the al-Swahli militia from Misrata, and there have been a number of cases over the past month of local militia groups attempting to extricate non-local militias from their bases in the city.

The neighbourhoods of Abu Salim and Hadba are still assessed by AKE personnel on the ground to be the highest risk areas in the city for foreign personnel. These areas were known to be home to pro-Gaddafi supporters during the conflict, and it remains unclear to what extent former loyalist elements remain.

Despite this, movement around the city is good, and the reaction towards foreign personnel is positive. Media personnel are largely greeted favourably, however they should be aware of reports of hostility and intimidation by militiamen as they arrived to cover recent clashes in the city.

There is a low militia presence throughout much of the city, and those that are present are often part of the recently formed national army. There is a low police presence as well, and those who are present appear to be largely restricted to traffic duties. Personnel returning to the city should be aware of the lack of any organised law enforcement and have a number of contingencies in mind in the case of emergencies. Those planning to remain in the city, or the wider country for a prolonged period are advised to contact their embassy to assess their capabilities in case of an emergency.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International on 29 February demanded the release of two British journalists held by militiamen from Misrata for over a week. The two journalists with Press TV and their Libyan colleagues were detained by members of the al-Swehli militia in Tripoli on 21 February. They were accused of entering Libya without proper visas.

Benghazi

Hundreds of people protested outside the main courthouse in Benghazi on 2 March, demanding that the militia which had occupied the building during the revolution leave and allow judges to return to work. The militia has been using the courthouse as its headquarters, and reportedly wants it to remain as a symbol of the revolution. The protests were a sign of the growing frustration at the continued presence of militias and lack of centralised law enforcement in the country.

 

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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