Issues in the critical national oil and gas infrastructure have continued this week suppressing the export flows so vital to Libya’s economy. On top of last week’s disruptions to a number of the fields the problems have been compounded with two of the country’s main export ports being shut due to strikes by the security forces guarding them over working conditions. Es Sider, Libya’s main oil export terminal shut down on Thursday and Ras Lanuf followed shortly after. There is a strong likelihood that the ports will both re-open tomorrow but it is a further sign of the instability that Libya is currently confronted by and one it cannot afford given the importance of the sector to Libya’s GDP.
Tensions have also continued this week around the Zintan Brigade following last week’s clashes in Tripoli. This time there have been clashes around Ghariyan on 6th July when forces from the town seized a Zintani convoy bound for Tripoli containing weapons. The issue continues to fester with government-aligned/sponsored militias using the opportunity to re-impose their agendas on those that are not officially sanctioned or where they see an opportunity for gain. In Tripoli one man was wounded on 5th July when Abu Salem Military Council militiamen opened fire into the air to disperse a crowd that was demanding their removal from the area. This is the same militia that was involved in clashes with the Zintan Brigade last week. There are likely to be continuing difficulties and outbreaks of violence until the government is strong enough to dismantle all groups that are not part of the official security apparatus. This is not likely in the short-term.
The Prime Minister continues to focus on security and this week held bilateral talks in Rome with the Italian Government where illegal immigration and border security were discussed. Italy has undertaken to train 5,000 Libyans in border security duties in Italy in the coming months. This will be complementary to the existing EU-sponsored initiative on border security.
Benghazi experienced another bomb attack, this time in the Alhadk district on 5th July which appears to have fortunately exploded prematurely rather than when the area was crowded with pre-Ramadan shoppers. This came on the same day that the French honorary consul and his wife survived an attack on their vehicle despite it being hit at least 10 times. They were very lucky to have escaped unscathed.
The security outlook for the country remains uncertain and the travel advice remains unequivocal: no travel to the east or south of the country particularly Benghazi and only essential travel to Tripoli and other towns in the west.