Weekly Security Summary by SNE Special Projects 22 March 2016

Libya's U.N. backed unity government in waiting will move to Tripoli from Tunis "within a few days", its Prime Minister said in a television interview broadcast on Thursday.

Fayez Seraj said a security plan has been agreed with police and military forces in Tripoli with some armed groups and with the United Nations, which would allow the Presidential Council and the government it nominated to transfer to the Libyan capital.

In response, Libya's eastern government said on Friday ‘’moves to impose a new U.N. backed unity cabinet on the country without a vote of approval by the eastern parliament risked deepening the nation's crisis’’. While it supported the unity cabinet, any attempt to impose it represented an "abuse of Libyan sovereignty and a lack of respect for the democratic process".

"It will deepen the Libyan crisis and the economic situation, increase division, and shatter the political accord built on consensus."

The European Union has agreed sanctions on three Libyan leaders who oppose a Western backed unity government, clearing the way for travel bans and asset freezes to be imposed in the next few days. EU governments have been hesitating for months, fearful of derailing peace efforts, but Western powers recognized a unity cabinet as Libya's only legitimate government on Sunday, and are pushing for it to move to Tripoli and start work.

Libyan migration concerns dominated talk in Europe this week as the British Prime Minster told his counterparts at a summit in Brussels that he wanted to expand the current EU naval force operating in the central Mediterranean, to stop hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing from Libya to Europe and that this would require British naval ships to work closer to the shore.

Heavy gunfire broke out in the Libyan capital Tripoli twice during the last week, as two rival armed groups clashed in the city, it is believed that the fighting had broken out over the killing of one of their fighters which led to a subsequent fatality at a bank. The clashes left several cars burning in the streets as military vehicles patrolled the city.

Influential Libyans from Benghazi put aside their differences to appeal for help for their hometown. Several of the 76 signatories, who include members of Libya's rival parliaments and more than 20 tribal leaders requested that they need food, medicine, shelter and electricity. "We, the sons and daughters of Benghazi, protectors of the nation and its unity, coming from diverse backgrounds and sharing the common goal of saving our city and its population.

Fighting has continued as Libyan National Army (LNA) attempt to secure the militant stronghold of the cement factory in Al Hawary. Heavy casualties have continued as a mass grave of 11 people was discovered nearby.

In Derna Libyan planes carried out sorties over the “400” area as LNA helicopters conducted airstrikes on Daesh positions in Fattaiah as Daesh fighters were pushed back after an advance towards the area.

As Daesh consolidate its hold on the northern coast, experts are now concerned the Jihadists may now be pushing southwest into the desert area of Fezzan. Fezzan offers lucrative sources of income from smuggling and already acts as a hideout for Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) and other jihadist groups.

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