Security in Tripoli will remain relatively positive, although there is little prospect of the central authorities being able to deploy a security force capable of mitigating against all threats in the near future. There is an ongoing risk of militia groups seizing vital infrastructure in the city. Although militant attacks have been largely restricted to Benghazi, there is also a risk of similar attacks on the assets of foreign governments and NGOs in Tripoli.
The risk of further attacks in Benghazi will remain, and there is also a risk of confrontation between government security forces and alleged Jihadi militant groups reportedly based near the town of Derna. There is also a risk of demonstrations in Benghazi which may be related to the upcoming elections or the issue of semi-autonomy for the east of the country. These will also carry a risk of sporadic violence.
Campaigning for the upcoming elections will gather pace over the coming weeks, and a clearer picture of who will be the main players may begin to appear. There will be a heightened risk of political demonstrations with the potential for violence throughout the country as the polls approach.
The security situation in Tripoli remains relatively stable, although the risk of a sudden temporary deterioration in certain areas remains. A number of militia groups retain the ability to enter the city at will and seize vital infrastructure, something that has occurred on numerous occasions in the past and which remains a real possibility, particularly in response to perceived unfair treatment by the central authorities.
AKE personnel on the ground have highlighted a growing number of power cuts in the city, likely due to the heat and increasing use of air conditioning during the summer months. This may also increase in frequency during Ramadan, which begins in mid-July.
A group of armed gunmen stormed the Tunisian consulate in the city on 18 June, in protest against an art exhibition in Tunis, which they perceive as insulting to Islam. A group of around 20 young men carrying Kalashnikovs reportedly stormed the building and burned the Tunisian flag inside. Security forces deployed en mass to the consulate and regained control of the building from the men, who withdrew without resistance. The incident again demonstrates the ease with which armed groups can enter strategic sites at will.
Juma Obaidi al-Jazawi, a high profile military prosecutor accused of involvement in the killing of former rebel commander Abdel Fatah Younis, was shot dead after leaving a mosque in Benghazi on 21 June. The incident comes after a spate of attacks on foreign NGO and government targets in the city, many of which have been claimed by Islamist militants believed to be based in Derna.
Last week armed jeeps carrying Jihadists entered Benghazi bearing black al-Qaeda flags and gathered in the town centre. They were then confronted by thousands of youths, who were alerted through a Facebook appeal, chanting pro-Libyan and pro-democracy slogans. The men were subsequently forced out of the square by the hostile crowd.
Meanwhile, the headstones on World War Two military graves in the city were desecrated for a second time in four months on 21 June. NTC officials stated that they were unsure who carried out the act of vandalism, although unconfirmed reports indicate that Islamists may have been responsible.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that clashes took place in Derna this week involving national army forces. Rumours of Jihadi militant cells operating in the city have raised the profile of the town in recent weeks and led to expectations that the NTC would look to conduct military operations there to flush out any hostile elements. There is therefore a risk of further violence in and around the town over the coming weeks and months.
ICC Employee Detention
Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz stated on 16 June that he expected the International Criminal Court (ICC) to cooperate with investigations into allegations that an Australian lawyer, identified as Melinda Taylor, smuggled documents to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. The UN Security Council, human rights groups, the court in The Hague, and the Australian government have all called for the release of Taylor and her interpreter Helene Assaf, in what has proved to be the country's biggest diplomatic spat since the uprising ousted the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.
Libyan officials claimed the pair were caught passing messages from outside supporters to Saif during a meeting, and that they were in in possession of "spying and recording equipment”. Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr arrived in Libya on 18 June in order to push for the release of all the ICC staff.
Security Companies in Libya
The government announced a new decree (decree248) that will ban foreign security companies from operating in Libya. Any Libyan company found to be trading with a security company will also be banned from operating in the country. It remains unclear how stringently this new decree will be enforced and whether it will apply to those operating in the country in support of the foreign diplomatic presence.
Campaigning for Libya's first national election was expected to begin on 18 June ahead of the polls currently scheduled for 7 July. The elections will choose a national assembly that will then be given the task of drafting a new constitution, overseeing the government and scheduling a new round of elections. Candidates come from over 142 political associations, although only 80 seats have been reserved for political parties, with the rest reserved for independents.
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