Weekly Security Summary by SNE 14 October 2014

In the last few days the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon made a surprise visit to Tripoli on Saturday urging all parties to end fighting and engage meaningfully in building an “inclusive” Libya. Ban flew into the Libyan capital before moving onto Cairo to attend an aid conference with donors to fund the multibillion dollar reconstruction of the devastated Gaza Strip. In Libya the UN chief said the country’s future hangs in the balance as violence intensifies between warring tribes, cities and militias. Political rivalry is also continuing between two rival parliaments, one popularly elected and based in the eastern town of Tobruk and the other a reconvened General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.

Following a meeting in Cairo with Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al Thinni, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi confirmed that Egypt would help train anti-Islamist forces loyal to al Thinni. It was then reported on 09 October that Libyan soldiers have started arriving in Egypt to begin training.

As was widely anticipated, the Constitutional Court postponed its decision over the legality of the House of Representatives holding sessions in Tobruk until 20 October. The ruling had been expected on 08 October. An official legal challenge has been launched against the sitting of the House of Representatives in the eastern city without a formal handover from the former parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), having taken place, by those members of the House of Representatives who have refused to go to the Tobruk  sessions.

Operation Dignity forces carried out a number of air strikes on Benghazi Shura Council targets throughout 9-10 October 2014, with sources claiming that a boat attempting to enter Benghazi Port was attacked, causing it to sink. Tripoli has remained relatively quiet, although militia leaders from Zintan have continued to claim that they intend to launch a counteroffensive against Libya Dawn forces in the capital, and there have been indications that Zintani and Warshefanan military units have advanced towards Tripoli itself.

Zintani and Libya Dawn forces clash near Aziziya on Sunday morning; Zintanis claim to control Aziziya and have Gharyan surrounded and conducting a two-pronged offensive. The clashes apparently continued into Sunday afternoon and tensions remain high in the area. The clashes were confirmed by the commander of military operations room for the Libya National Army, Colonel Idris Mohammed Abdulrahman.

Reports have recently emerged that a group of twenty-two Eastern European nationals was released at some point in the last few months, after being held in a Zintani prison for more than three years on charges of having helped former strongman Muammar Gaddafi. A spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated that two Russians, two Belarusians and eighteen Ukrainians had arrived back to their countries of origins, with one of the Ukrainian nationals reportedly stating “Russia freed us”. There was no official sanction of their release by Libyan authorities, leading to speculation that the group had escaped from prison. However, it appears more likely that powerbrokers in Zintan itself had forged a deal with the foreign governments, as the central Libyan authorities currently have little influence in western Libya. There are currently no indications as to what such a deal may have entailed.

ISIS, also known as the Islamic State and Daash, is to launch a satellite TV station called Tawheed, broadcasting propaganda from Sirte.  An official page for the new station which has appeared on social media says that it will be transmitting a “call for uniformity to all parts of the world”.

As was widely anticipated, the Constitutional Court postponed its decision over the legality of the House of Representatives holding sessions in Tobruk until 20 October 2014. The ruling had been expected on 08 October 2014. An official legal challenge has been launched against the sitting of the House of Representatives in the eastern city without a formal handover from the former parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), having taken place, by those members of the House of Representatives who have refused to go to the Tobruk sessions. Hearings will begin again on 20 October 2014, although it is likely that a final ruling will be repeatedly delayed, as the decision is likely to spark angry and potentially violent responses by the side which opposes the ruling. A similarly controversial decision over the constitutionality of the Political Isolation Law (PIL) was delayed for several months, and its consideration has been stalled since the House of Representatives was elected. However, some parties have argued that the ruling over the legitimacy of the decisions made by the House of Representatives thus far is necessary ahead of any national dialogue, as it will alter the basis of discussions entirely.

During a press conference on 09 October 2014, Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab revealed many important aspects of the meetings being held between Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al Thinni and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, after al Thinni arrived in Cairo on 07 October 204. For one, Mahlab confirmed that the Egyptian Government would deal solely with the House of Representatives in Libya. The Egyptian Prime Minister also announced that cooperation between Egypt and Libya would be enhanced, particularly in regards to border issues and to Egyptian training of Libyan security forces.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon made a surprise visit to Tripoli on Saturday urging all parties to end fighting and engage meaningfully in building an “inclusive” Libya. Ban flew into the Libyan capital before moving onto Cairo to attend an aid conference with donors to fund the multibillion dollar reconstruction of the devastated Gaza Strip. In Libya the UN chief said the country’s future hangs in the balance as violence intensifies between warring tribes, cities and militias. Political rivalry is also continuing between two rival parliaments – one popularly elected and based in the eastern town of Tobruk and the other a reconvened General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli. “If violent confrontations do not cease immediately, if sustainable peace is not restored, prosperity and a better life will be a distant dream. This is what hangs in the balance today for the future of Libya,” he said.

Due to the current ongoing unstable situation within Tripoli, SNE advises that all non-essential expat client personnel and their dependants should consider relocating outside of the country where possible.

Only business essential movements should take place within Tripoli city limits and no movement should be attempted in the hours of darkness or near the area of Tripoli International Airport and surroundings areas which have been affected by the fighting.SNE is advising NO travel should be made to Benghazi until the current situation shows signs of stability.

The British FCO and US State Department are still advising against No travel to Libya. SNE remains operational on the ground in Tripoli with our British Country Management Team and are able to support any of our existing or other clients as required, or provide up to date accurate information and analysis on the ever changing situation to those clients who are currently out of country monitoring the situation with an aim to re-deploying when the security situation allows. Before considering travel to Libya, an itinerary specific pre-travel risk assessment including mitigation measures are recommended. In-country personnel should be confident in their evacuation procedures and crisis management plans and in light of the current situation these should be checked and updated where necessary with the appropriate level of support in country to activate the plans when required.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply