The LBBC Business Risk Advisor
Libya is experiencing a period of unprecedented transition. As the country embarks on a programme of national reconstruction and actively seeks foreign partners to supply the necessary products, services and expertise, the potential trade and investment opportunities for LBBC members are exceptional.
Nevertheless, despite these positive developments, the political and security outlook for the country remains uncertain: the long-term stability of the new governing authority, socioeconomic pressures on the Libyan people, potential religious and ethnic tensions, and the continuing influence of armed militia on the democratic process - all of these factors and more may impact upon the Libyan business environment.
Understanding the current risks associated with doing business in Libya and being able to accurately forecast how the prevailing political and security situation may influence business variables, such as export payments and investment returns, are invaluable attributes for any commercial operation.
The LBBC's new risk advisory digest aims to provide our members and clients with access to relevant, current, and actionable information and informed opinions which they can draw upon when making commercial decisions.
The reports, extracts and links listed below contain strategic advice which will help LBBC members to manage their operational risk and minimize uncertainty with respect to their Libyan business interests and their commercial plans going forward.
This new online service also aims to highlight the broader range of products and services offered by LBBC members that operate in the fields of business intelligence and risk management and to showcase their expertise to an audience that may benefit from a more direct relationship.
We are confident that LBBC members - both experienced Libyan operators and businesses new to the Libyan market - will choose to explore further the strategic advice offered by some of the information providers contributing to this service.
|Salamanca Risk Management|
SRM has been delivering risk management services in Libya since February 2011. Initial operations involved logistic support to media teams reporting on the Revolution. From November 2011, SRM capitalised on the experiences of its Country Manager and consultants and assisted a number of major international companies to re-establish their businesses.
SRM maintains a permanent footprint in Tripoli comprising the Country Manager, an experienced Arabist operations’ team and a number of Libyan facilitators. A separate office is retained in Benghazi. Long-term projects in Tripoli, Khums, Birak and Sebha enable SRM to maintain excellent coverage of the nationwide security environment. Routine enabling support is provided for a wide range of commercial sectors across Libya, including management services, construction, energy, education, media, defence and NGOs.
SRM is fully licensed to operate in Libya and is in partnership with a Libyan security and risk management company giving strategic reach and insight into key areas of the Libyan Government at national and regional level.
Khalifa Hifter Briefing [Friday 23 May 2014]
Khalifa Hifter (‘Hifter’) was born in Benghazi and served as one of Gadhafi’s senior commanders during Libya’s disastrous conflict with Chad during the 1980s. He and several of his men were captured by Chadian forces in 1987 and subsequently disowned by Gadhafi, a policy adopted towards all Libyan prisoners of war. Hifter then went into exile in the US, where he lived for around 20 years in northern Virginia. His proximity to the CIA headquarters in Langley during this time has led to speculation he may have developed ties with the US intelligence community.
In February 2011, Hifter returned to Libya to take part in the civil war. Although some sources named him as the commander of the rebel armed forces, the National Transitional Council, then the temporary governing authority, denied this and instead afforded the title to Abdel Fatah Younes. Hifter was nonetheless given the rank of Lieutenant General by the NTC, making him officially the third most senior rebel commander. Hifter did not play a significant role in the transitional governments following the revolution, instead returning to his tribal heartland in eastern Libya.
2 Operation Libyan Dignity
In February 2014, Hifter returned to the public spotlight when he made a televised announcement calling for the suspension of the General National Congress (‘GNC’). However, this action did not garner widespread support; Ali Zeidan, then the Libyan Prime Minister, dismissing his statement as “ridiculous”. However, on 16 May, Hifter re-emerged, this time with
the backing of several Libyan army units as well as at least two Mirage air force jets, and announced the commencement of Operation Libyan Dignity.
2.2 Benghazi Assault
Hifter initially framed Libyan Dignity as a military operation targeting extremist groups in Benghazi - principally Ansar Al Sharia and the February 17 Brigade. The GNC quickly denounced the operation as illegal and called on all army personnel not to take part. It became apparent that the operation had broader aims when on 18 May, Zintani militia brigades stormed the GNC building and captured seven representatives who they claimed were supporting eastern extremists. Although these Zintani militia denied they were acting under Hifter’s direct orders, they did express solidarity with Operation Libyan Dignity. Over the past few days, various government and military officials have pledged their backing for Hifter and Libyan Dignity, whilst the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood has predictably condemned his actions as a military coup.
2.3 Hifter’s Intentions
On 20 May, Hifter gave an interview to the Washington Post in which he claimed that Operation Libyan Dignity had been planned over the past two years in response to the assassination and kidnapping of various military and security officials in Benghazi. Hifter added that the aim of Libyan Dignity was to re-establish security in the country, and that he intended to create a unified national army and police force.
On 21 May, Hifter outlined his plans for a political transition, calling for the GNC to be dissolved and the current government dismissed. He indicated that Libya’s top judicial council should appoint a temporary government to oversee the next elections, with the 60-member constitution committee acting as the government’s legislative arm. On the same day, Habib Lamin, the Minister of Culture, announced his support for Hifter’s plan and stated he no longer recognised the GNC’s legitimacy. Similar announcements by other ministers and GNC delegates are possible over the coming days.
2.4 Government Response
As noted above, the government and most delegates within the Islamist and Misrata-dominated GNC have condemned Operation Libyan Dignity as illegal. However, there appears to be a recognition that the GNC in its current form is unsustainable, given the substantial public backing for Hifter. Accordingly, on 20 May, the GNC held an emergency meeting at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Tripoli to seek a solution to the political crisis, resulting in proposals to hold
elections at the end of June for a new interim legislature and a rerun of the controversial prime ministerial vote won by Ahmed Maetiq. However, after these proposals were announced, it was reported that the GNC meeting failed to reach quorum, and it is unclear whether the measures will be enacted.
For his part Maetiq has refused to step down, stating in a press conference that “Libyans don’t want to return to having a military body rule them”.
2.5 Possible Consequences
Operation Libyan Dignity has yet to develop into a large-scale conflict, despite the clear risks involved in attempting to overhaul the country’s political process. In particular, the restraint exercised so far by the Misratan brigades in not retaliating against the recent Zintani militia movements has prevented widespread clashes from occurring in Tripoli. However, the potential for further violence remains high, particular as Hifter has employed divisive rhetoric in outlining
his vision for the political transition. Hifter has accused Islamists in the GNC of supporting extremist groups in Benghazi and fuelling the current instability in Libya.
Hifter’s statements highlight the clear parallels with Egypt’s recent political transition, where General Sisi deposed Mohammed Morsi, the elected President, following widespread public dissatisfaction with the government, before launching a crackdown on Egypt’s Islamist groups. In an interview with an Egyptian newspaper on 22 May, Hifter praised Sisi’s actions and the Egyptian military coup, adding further credence to comparisons between the two men.
In Egypt, Sisi’s anti-Islamist stance led to violent clashes between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood-led protestors – in Libya the Muslim Brotherhood has not yet mobilised significant street protests, however there remains the potential for future clashes. At the very least the Islamist factions in Libyan politics, led by the Misratan brigades and the Muslim Brotherhood, are unlikely to simply accept Hifter’s suggested steps for the political transition.
2.6 Contact Details
Tom Crooke Forward Deployed Analyst
Tel: +44(0)7551 154247
Salamanca Group Libya Office
Tel: +218(0)91 954 2006
AKE is a risk mitigation company which has maintained a constant presence in Libya since the outbreak of unrest in February 2011. Initially there through its support for major media organisations and providing the vital and successful evacuation of energy personnel, AKE continues to support clients in media, the oil industry, NGOs and governments.
With the current political and security environments in a constant state of flux, AKE supports its clients in a wide range of sectors as they set-up or re-establish their operations in-country. Founded in 1991 by Andrew Kain, AKE distinguishes itself from other firms in the sector by taking a needs- and information-led approach to assessing, monitoring, training for and protecting against risk and ensuring the safety of staff. Using its network of local contacts and personnel on the ground, AKE aims to facilitate the entry of international companies back into the country and assist in the mitigation of current and potential future risks to business continuity and company personnel.
AKE WEEKLY LIBYA UPDATE (Friday 25 July 2014):
AKE’s free weekly Libya Update (below) combines information from AKE personnel and sources throughout the country to give an up to date and first-hand view of the situation on the ground. Analysis of the week’s major events in the political, security and business fields is combined with practical information and advice from AKE risk specialists aiming to give personnel in a number of different fields, from international business and media to NGOs and governments, a relevant picture of the current and future operating environment.
SummaryIn Tripoli, rival militias continued to battle for control of Tripoli International Airport (TIA) and the surrounding area on 24 July. Clashes continued over the past week and there is little sign of a prolonged cessation of violence in the immediate future. In Benghazi, violent clashes between fighters loyal to former military general Khalifa Haftar and Islamist militia continued throughout much of the week. Furthermore, two suicide bombers killed at least four soldiers in an attack at an army base in the city. Meanwhile, the General National Congress stated on 23 July that it will begin the handover of power to the House of Representatives on 4 August.
Rival militias continued to battle for control of Tripoli International Airport (TIA) and the surrounding area on 24 July and further violence is expected over the coming days. The airport remains closed due to the violence, which has damaged aircraft and infrastructure and restricted international travel to and from Tripoli. Flights are reported to be running intermittently from Mitiga airport and Misrata airport, while the Tunisian border at Ras Ajedir is another option for those seeking to leave the country. Those looking to use a land route should be aware of a number of potential pockets of instability along this route, with instability and violence preventing access to the border on a number of occasions over the past year.
Violence continued this week as rival militias continued to battle for control of TIA, despite rumours of a ceasefire on 17 July. The clashes began when members of the Libyan Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR) and allied Misratan militia attacked the bases of the Zintani militias, which have controlled the airport since 2011. The fighting was concentrated around TIA and a number of locations along the airport highway and surrounding districts, including Gasir Ben Ghashir and Abu Salim. The clashes have involved mortars, rockets and tanks, as well as light weapons.
The clashes continued on 23 July and a number of shells struck a fuel storage tank near the airport, igniting a huge blaze that could be seen throughout the city.
At least nine people were killed and 19 others were wounded in heavy clashes between Islamist militias and fighters loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar on 24 July. Military aircraft supported troops with airstrikes targeting the bases of Islamist fighters.
On 22 July two suicide bombers killed at least four soldiers at an army base. The ensuing fighting between army forces and Islamist militiamen left at least 16 people dead and 81 injured.
On 21 July at least seven people were killed and 40 others were injured when Islamist militiamen attacked a base manned by forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar. The attackers were reportedly linked to Ansar al-Sharia.
Further attacks targeting security and military personnel are expected in the coming weeks. The recent spate of clashes in the city have been some of the fiercest over recent months, since Haftar announced an offensive, named 'Operation Dignity', aimed at ousting Islamists from the east of the country. Further similar clashes are likely and could cause significant disruption in a number of areas of the city.
The General National Congress stated on 23 July that it will begin the handover of power to the House of Representatives on 4 August. It is likely that a handover ceremony will take place in Tripoli. Calls have been increasing for the new legislature to meet as soon as possible in order to address the ongoing crisis in Tripoli, which is threatening to further destabilise the country and deter foreign investment which is vital for the economy to return to a stable position. The new parliament will meet in Benghazi, despite concerns from many of its members over the security situation in the city. Despite these worries, however, reports indicate that the decision to move parliamentary sessions to Benghazi was made almost unanimously.
AKE is a leading international security risk-mitigation and analysis provider to international businesses, insurers, NGOs and news media. Founded in 1991 by Andrew Kain, AKE distinguishes itself from other security firms by taking a needs- and intelligence-led approach to assessing, monitoring, training for and protecting against risk. For security assistance on the situation in Libya please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 1432 267 111. For intelligence contact email@example.com for further information.
If you would like to contribute to this section of the LBBC website, in the first instance please contact the Secretariat at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 20 7152 4051