SNE Weekly Security Summary 24 June 2014

Political situation:  As general elections which are being held on 25 June 2014 have drawn closer, concerns have been raised that given the current political instability and ongoing violence, the elections will not be held in a free and fair environment, raising the possibility that the newly-elected House of Representatives will not have a strong mandate, thereby suffering from the same ailments as the GNC.

In particular, Libya’s most prevalent extremist group, Ansar al Sharia, has already pledged to use violent means to disrupt the elections. Thus, while General Hifter has pledged to uphold a ceasefire in Benghazi during the day of the elections, Ansar al Sharia strongholds – mostly in the east of the country – will likely face severe challenges in holding the elections.

Nevertheless, the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) has stated that preparations are complete, and overseas voting has already started. While some disruptions are expected, it is likely that the elections will go ahead in most areas – as was the case

Benghazi:  The situation on the ground in Benghazi remains uncertain, as while Hifter’s “Libyan National Army” forces have claimed to have made substantial gains on Islamist groups, Ansar al Sharia has seemingly regrouped in its traditional strongholds in the Sidi Faraj and Hawari districts.

Given that these areas have seen some of the heaviest airstrikes and ground clashes, the current situation appears to suggest that a stalemate has emerged, as Hifter’s forces have remained based on the western outskirts of the city, unable to break into the city itself.

Nevertheless, the “Libyan National Army” does appear to be able to impose heavy casualties on Ansar al Sharia and 17 February Brigade forces during the major battles which have sporadically occurred since “Operation Dignity” was launched on 16 May 2014. As forces from the CLS Brigade, and the Libyan Revolutionaries Operation Room (LROR) appear to be increasing their numbers in the east of the city, with the intention of countering Hifter’s forces, further clashes are expected to grow increasingly intense.

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