Weekly Security Report by SNE 21 October 2014

The governments of France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States have agreed that there can be no military solution to the Libyan crisis and have said that they are “dismayed” that parties have not respected the calls for a ceasefire following the recent meetings in Ghadames and Tripoli.

SNE sources in Benghazi have claimed that at least seventy-five people have been killed in clashes since 15 October 2014, after a major offensive was launched by forces loyal to the anti-Islamist Operation Dignity, backed up by local civilians.

Air raids have continued on Benghazi Shura Council targets, while street fighting has continued between groups of local residents and Ansar al Sharia militants. The areas of Benghazi worst-affected by street clashes have been Masakin, Laithi, Sulmani and Venezia. Meanwhile, on 18 October 2014, Prime Minister Abdullah al Thinni announced that a coalition of anti-Islamist forces would soon launch a fresh offensive to retake Tripoli from the Islamist-led Libya Dawn coalition. Such an offensive has been promised on numerous occasions without further action being taken, but pro-government forces have continued to amass in locations to the south and west of Tripoli, while clashes have been ongoing elsewhere in western Libya.

The momentum behind initiatives to hold peace talks between the warring parties in Libya appears to have dwindled, as no news has emerged regarding a second round of UN-sponsored talks, nor of the negotiations planned to be held in Algeria. A joint statement by the governments of the US, UK, Germany, France and Italy reiterated the potential for sanctions to be imposed on those groups and individuals which continue to “threaten security” in Libya. There have also been reports of renewed fighting in the southern towns of Sebha and Obari, although details regarding the clashes are sparse.

Following a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi and Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, Sisi stated on 19 October 2014 the two countries intend to work together to support pro-government Libyan forces against Islamist militants. The announcement also comes ahead of a planned visit by Prime Minister Abdullah al Thinni to Sudan on 28 October.

Media reports from 19 October 2014, indicate that approximately 430 families in western Libya have been displaced and subsequently relocated to the city of Gharyan due to ongoing fighting in the mountainous      western region. The majority of the families were from the areas of Kikla and al Qalaa, and many of them are reportedly staying in the homes of Gharyan families. Also, as fighting continues, it is expected that these numbers will continue to rise.

Reports have emerged on 20 October to suggest that violence has broken out once again in the southern towns of Sebha and Obari. Sebha witnessed tribal clashes in late September and early October 2014, but ceasefires negotiated by tribal elders appeared to be holding until late on 19 October 2014. Details regarding the recent clashes are sparse as of the time of publication, but it is hoped that fighting, which has primarily pitted Awlad Suleiman tribesmen against the Gaddadfa tribe, will be brought under control quickly.

The governments of France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States have agreed that there can be no military solution to the Libyan crisis and have said that they are “dismayed” that parties have not respected the calls for a ceasefire following the recent meetings in Ghadames and Tripoli.

While the countries have condemned the crimes of Ansar Al-Sharia entities and have recognised that Libya’s “hard fought freedom” is at risk if Libyan and international terrorist groups are allowed to use Libya as a safe haven, they have also expressed concern regarding retired general Khalifa Hafter’s attacks in Benghazi.

Pledging their full support to United Nations Special Representative to Libya Bernadino Leon, the five states urged all parties to cooperate with his efforts to facilitate negotiations with the aim of coming to an agreement on the location for the House of Representatives and laying the foundation for a Government of National Unity.  The group added that it stood ready to use individual sanctions in accordance with UNSCR 2174 against “those who threaten the peace, stability or security of Libya or obstruct or undermine the political process”.

Stressing the importance of a united stand on Libya within the international community based on agreements at recent meetings in New York and Madrid, the group strongly encouraged all partners to refrain from actions that might exacerbate current divisions in order to allow Libyans to address the situation within the framework of the UN-facilitated talks.

Due to the current ongoing unstable situation within Tripoli, SNE that only business essential travel and       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.

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