The situation in Tripoli will remain the same, although there is an ongoing risk of clashes between rival militias. Such clashes could also involve the national army, which will continue to struggle to exert its authority in the city. The risk of criminal acts involving armed groups could also increase the longer the security vacuum continues.
Benghazi will remain the same and there will be a risk of demonstrations and low level violence in the run up to the parliamentary elections. There is also a risk of further attacks using crude improvised devices, targeting government employees, the foreign diplomatic presence or large political gatherings.
The risk of clashes in the south and west of the country will remain, and there is likely to be sporadic fighting over the coming weeks and months.
Campaigning for the coming elections is likely to pick up over the coming weeks. There is expected to be a strong Islamist showing, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party expected to perform well.
The situation in Tripoli remains the same, although AKE personnel on the ground have highlighted the threat of lawlessness and petty crime. Although generally low, particularly considering the lack of any organised force responsible for law enforcement, there is a general risk of muggings and robbery.
On 15 May unconfirmed reports indicated that two foreign journalists were robbed at gun-point near the Grand Hotel near the port and the old city/Martyrs’ Square. The assailants reportedly took the journalists’ cameras. Personnel should be mindful that although the situation is generally safe, and the risk of such incidents is generally low, there is a baseline risk given the lack of an organised police force.
Meanwhile, a director of Akakus Oil Operations, identified as Abdul Majeed Shiha, was kidnapped in Tripoli on 13 May on his way home from work. The assailants were an unknown armed group, who intercepted his car and held him for several hours in an unknown location in the city. Shiha was later released handcuffed and blindfolded in the Injila area of south Tripoli. His car and mobile phone were both stolen.
Although it remains unclear who carried out the kidnapping, it is clear that the increased number of armed groups operating in the city represents a potential destabilising factor. Many are resorting to criminal activity with increased frequency. The government will be keen to increase the rate at which these groups are disarmed, and responsibility for security is passed to a centrally controlled force.
Benghazi remains calm, and there have been no major incidents of note over the past week. However, personnel should be mindful of the risk of demonstrations that can cause disruption in central areas of the city. AKE personnel on the ground have long highlighted the potential for disruption caused by strikes and demonstrations in central areas of the city, a fact that may become all the more apparent in the run-up to elections in June.
Large political gatherings can have the potential for violence, and there have also been a number of small scale bomb attacks at similar events in recent months.
Seven people were killed and more than 20 injured in clashes in the western town of Ghadames in recent days. Reports indicate that the fighting was between local residents and a group of Tuareg militiamen who took over control of a checkpoint on the edge of the town. Tensions between local Arab and the traditionally nomadic Tuareg tribes have intensified since the revolution, in which many Tuareg provided support for pro-Gaddafi forces. There is an ongoing risk of further hostilities in the region and personnel travelling to the area should be aware of the risk of summary detention and kidnap by armed groups attempting to raise the profile of their specific grievances.
Obari – South Western Libya
A candidate for Libya's national elections, identified as Khaled Abu Saleh, was shot dead by unknown armed assailants in the town of Ubari, shortly after registering as a candidate. Abu Saleh was travelling home from the registry office when he was intercepted by the armed gang. Local security sources have indicated that the culprits were a criminal gang, although there has been no confirmation of this.
Personnel considering travel to Obari, which is located along the main route to the major oil operations in the Murzuq Basin (Elephant and Sharara oil fields), are advised to take proper risk mitigation procedures. AKE personnel who visited the area noted that although the situation was generally calm, there are notable tensions between rival groups in the area, and the complete lack of any centralised law enforcement would slow the response capabilities of the authorities to any incident. The burden is therefore on company management to ensure that proper risk mitigation procedures are carried out, and response plans are put in place to cover all likely eventualities.
Two men were killed and 29 others were wounded on 13 May after they illegally crossed the border from Egypt to Libya and entered into a minefield. The northern border region between the two countries was heavily mined by the UK and Germany during World War II, and AKE has previously advised those travelling in the area not to stray from major access routes.
Abdelhakim Belhadj stated on 14 May that he is quitting his post as the head of the Tripoli Military Council in order to devote himself full-time to politics. The move can be seen as a significant vote of confidence in the democratic transition process, demonstrating that the former rebel commander feels his influence will be greater in the political field than it would be if he remained a militia commander. Despite initial reports indicating he was too late to register for the 19 June elections, Belhadj subsequently stated that he had already registered his party, named al-Watan (The Homeland), and would be taking part in the elections. He also stated that the party had candidates in every major Libyan city. Belhadj is known to have a large and loyal core of supporters, but remains a controversial figure given his alleged past role as the head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).
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