Council Members

The LBBC Business Risk Advisor

The Libyan people’s political and economic hopes following the 2011 revolution, repeatedly confirmed by several elections over the years that followed, have been frustrated by political failure and armed conflict between rival politicians, regions and militias.

LBBC Business Risk Advisor

There is no sign of an early resolution to this conflict and it may get worse before it gets better.  But the country’s tribulations will pass and the Libyan people’s aspirations for a more settled and prosperous future will be within their reach once more.  At that stage, they will look for goods, services and partnerships with overseas suppliers and, as an oil exporter, will have the financial resources to pay for the country’s needs.

No-one can predict when stability will return so it is crucial to monitor developments in-country to ensure that, when it does, LBBC members are ready to resume business. The LBBC has created this page to provide members and their clients with access to up-to-date information and analyses. The material on this page is provided by professional risk advisory companies with staff on the ground in Libya.

This is not to say that there is no business to be done in Libya even now.  Visible (and no doubt invisible) exports continue, albeit at a modest rate, and some contracts are offered.   The risk advisory page provides a valuable resource for members considering responding to these business prospects and the opportunity to consult the companies involved on the conditions affecting the viability and location of the particular business under consideration.

We are sure that LBBC members - both experienced Libyan operators and businesses new to the Libyan market - will find the information provided on this page and the more detailed advice available from the providers both interesting and a valuable input to their business strategies and decisions.

SNE Special Projects

SNE Special Projects have operated within Libya since the revolution of 2011 and are a fully licensed security provider working with our Libyan partner company. We have kept our permanent British & Libyan Country Management Team in Tripoli throughout the last few difficult months, supporting our clients staff and critical infrastructure and offering up to date, regular and accurate reporting throughout this period. We are now in a strong position to advise and support our clients as they look to plan their re-entry back into Libya as and when the current situation stabilises and allows for remobilization. We have a vast amount of experience of supporting clients from the media, telecoms, power generation & NGO sectors. For more information on our services within Libya please email us at specialprojects@snegroup.co.uk 

Links:

SNE Libya Security Summary - 28 July 2015

The Holy month of Ramadan has finished and Eid celebrations are now over in Libya with the people getting back to normal business.

Libyans and Western observers are still hopeful that the UNSMIL brokered deal and talks to form the new Government remain on track and that the abstaining GNC members will be side-lined and possibly sanctions placed on them for appearing to hold Libya to ransom. There is some confusion over what the status quo is regarding the signed draft and reports of a split in Misrata over support for the draft. 

In Tobruk a list of overseas Ambassadorial appointments was published and is awaiting signing by the HoR, along with confirmation of funding to their respective Embassies with some overseas staff claiming they haven’t received their salary for months.

There remains no news on the situation regarding the missing Italian contractors, having crossed the Ras Jdir Border crossing late on 19 July they were kidnapped on the way to their workplace at Mellitah Oil & Gas site just 70 kms from the border. Libyan Security forces searched the areas surrounding the kidnap site but reported no progress made to find the men or identify which group is responsible. However ENI stated that they are not believed to be in the hands of “Daesh” nor is it felt that there is a political agenda and is most likely criminal gangs, looking for money.

Tunisia has continued with building a perimeter wall along its Libyan border and welcomed the recent German diplomats suggestion of an EU Border force in Tunisia to increase Security.  This has not been welcomed by Libyan and Tunisian villagers either side of Ras Jdir who have historically benefitted from the cross border trade and smuggling, which led to a gun battle between Tunisian border police and Libyan smugglers on 25 July. 

UNSMIL’s concern over the ongoing Tebu-Tuarag fighting in the South may have assisted with a truce signing on the 25 July, which was mediated by Tribal Elders and local tribes from North West Libya, although reports of fighting and fatalities in Kufra were received the same day.

Daesh have been totally ousted from Derna by the local Islamist Militia group “Abu Salim Martyrs” with angry residents in support after a protest against the numbers of foreign fighters with Daesh in the city turned violent and at least 7 people were killed including a Commander from the Abu Salim Martyrs. Daesh still have a stronghold in Sirte and it is known that checkpoints around that troubled city are manned by Egyptian and Tunisian fighters.

Libya’s second city, Benghazi is still very dangerous and with General Hefter's forces now fighting in at least three districts and the port area against a determined Ansar Al Sharia and Daesh force with many casualties on both sides. It is reported that the Libyan National Army are fatigued from the relentless fighting, General Hefter has stated that if the arms Embargo was lifted, he could buy superior weaponry and defeat the “enemies of Libya” in a short time.

This week the British Prime Minister, David Cameron was quoted as saying that he has not ruled out British Military intervention in Libya against Daesh. This news was generally welcomed in Libya.

The migrant crisis is believed to be a factor in European Government decisions, with many thousands of mostly Sub-Saharan Africans making the trek across Libya and the onward journey across the Mediterranean every week and sadly a large number drowning during the crossing.

We are advising NO movement to the western area of Libya in and around Al Aziah and other surrounding areas where fighting is still ongoing between the Zintan (LNA) and Misrata (Libya Dawn) militia groups. Sporadic fighting between rival tribal factions is also currently ongoing in the areas of Ubari, Sabha & Murzuq and we are advising our clients NOT to travel to these southern areas at present.

We are still presently advising NO travel should be made to Benghazi until the current situation shows signs of stability and Operation Dignity forces have full control of the city and transportation methods of entering and leaving Benghazi are open again.

SNE are supporting our clients at present in Tripoli with business essential travel visits and are offering a full turnkey security risk management, safe transportation with secure accommodation and life support pack-age based from our Tripoli villa. 

The British FCO and US State Department are still advising against travel to Libya and are monitoring the security and political situation before considering remobilisation plans back into Libya at some point in the future.

SNE remains fully operational on the ground within Tripoli, where our mixed British and Libyan Country Management Team are able to support any of our existing and additional clients requests and 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 and political situation allows stabilises and allows for travel. 

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.

To discuss further how SNE can support your projects in Libya please email specialprojects@snegroup.co.uk or call our Dubai office on +971 44561542 or +971 503786803 or visit our website www.snespecialprojects.co.uk

Libya-Analysis

Libya-Analysis ® provides a range of bespoke Libya monitoring products which offer detailed analytical reporting, up-to-date threat assessments and comprehensive forecasting based on clients' individual needs and requirements. Run by Jason Pack - a researcher at Cambridge University and frequent commentator on Libya for leading global media and think tanks including the NYT, WSJ, and BBC - Libya-Analysis benefits from unique vantage points into the situation on the ground.

We offer a subscription Libya Monitoring service comprising bespoke daily updates and weekly analytical reports focusing on the issues that CEOs, decision makers, and security personnel need to understand.

To find out more about our Libya Monitoring service or other bespoke products, please contact info@libya-analysis.com.  And to get a sense of what our company is up to and to read our frequently updated blog about what is happening on the ground in Libya please visit www.libya-analysis.com


Links:

Wednesday 22 April 2015

After a lull on the diplomatic, humanitarian and military fronts, the past week registered several developments in Libya both at the political and military levels. Instability and widespread clashes afflicted western Libya, with a proto anti-Libya Dawn uprising taking place in various districts of Tripoli, and particularly in the neighbourhoods of Fashloum and Tajoura, on the outskirts of town. Whilst Libya Dawn has retained control of all areas in and around the capital, the incidents of this week have revealed yet another layer of fragility in the Libya Dawn coalition, possibly reinforcing the push of hawks among the Tobruk establishment to pursue a military solution until a complete victory is achieved on the Misratan-led bloc holding sway in western Libya. Libya Dawn forces are nonetheless leaving no stone unturned in their attempt to stabilise the situation in the capital as they have reportedly employed heavy handed strategies, including arresting civilians suspected of sympathising with Operation Dignity and the broader Karama camp.

UN-backed negotiations resumed in Morocco despite an airstrike over Tripoli’s Mitiga airport minutes before the GNC delegation to the UN talks was due to take off. This was undoubtedly the most controversial attack of the past week in Libya and drew strong criticism from UNSMIL and its Chief, Bernardino Leon, whose remarks appeared to have the effect of curbing the number and frequency of airstrikes for the remainder of the week. Whilst at different times during the week both sides threatened to pull out altogether from the process, the UN is working relentlessly to produce a political roadmap document incorporating requests from both sides. UNSMIL announced emphatically on Sunday 19 April that almost 80% of the new national unity government has been agreed upon by both sides. Nonetheless, observers agree that the finalising of a rapprochement political deal is still far from happening and that no breakthrough should be expected anytime soon on this front.

The oil sector continues to be characterised by a weak and unstable performance. After a temporary closure due to adverse weather conditions, the port of Hariga was re-opened on Monday 13 April, allowing for resumption of oil exports from this port in the measure of approximately 700,000 barrels per week, which add up to the 600,000 barrels exported from Zueitina. Whilst both ports are under control of the Cyrenaica-based camp, the decision taken by Thinni’s cabinet to set up alternative offshore bank accounts in the UAE has been met with reluctance. In fact, at present, international buyers are not interested to pay for Libyan oil in accounts not registered with the national Central Bank, and the UN has indicated this as a red line for the imposition of sanctions thus reducing the risk of a renewed spike in violence in the ‘Oil Crescent’ region. As previously discussed, in fact, the Tripoli based establishment has expressed deep hostility against the decision of creating new bank accounts and has repeatedly threatened to re-vamp its Operation Shuruq-led assault so as to undermine extraction activities in the ‘Oil Crescent’ region.

Finally, instability and the overall tragic security situation marring Libya were also displayed through two incidents occurred during the weekend. Firstly, an Italian fishing boat was temporarily seized by Libyan forces off the coast of Misrata, before it managed to escape to Sicily. At the time of writing this post, conflicting reports portrayed the incident with very different events and perspectives, thus not allowing for a clear analysis of its implications. Overall, however, this incident confirms the inherent risk stemming from the instability and calm tension marring the waters around Libya. Secondly, on Sunday, the media outlet of the Islamic State in Libya published a video allegedly showing the execution of thirty Ethiopian Christians in undisclosed locations in Cyrenaica and Fezzan. Whilst this video received less media coverage in Western countries than the previous major Libyan IS video release (“Message in Blood to the People of the Cross”), it is likely that its impact will be felt in decision-making rooms where European politicians are discussing the possibility of a monitoring mission to patrol the sea off the coast of Libya as well as IS entrenchment in the country. Discussions around the issue of an EU-backed monitoring mission picked up speed again on Sunday after a boat transporting 700 migrants coming from the Libyan coast capsized, killing all of his passenger and bringing the migrants’ death toll in the Mediterranean to above 1,600 people since the start of the year. The EU's response is best explained via this article in The Guardian.

Hawki Security Risk Management

Hawki is a global security risk management company that provides asset protection, personnel protection and security training. Our mission is to enable clients to conduct their legitimate business, wherever they are in the world and whatever threats they face. We provide risk and security management services, with particular focus on post-conflict, remote, medium-risk and high-risk security environments. Our clients range from private individuals to multinational corporations, governments, the public sector and supranational organisations.

For more information about the services we provide please contact Hugh Martin, CEO Hawki Worldwide: Tel + 44(0)20 3542 1500; email hugh.martin@hawki.co 


Links:

Libya, an update: the country’s future as a single state lies in the battle for control of the oil (February 2015)

Even to the seasoned observer, the daily reports from Libya paint a picture of an incomprehensible, anarchic morass. But within the nationwide unrest and violence, Major General Robin Searby identifies a strategic play taking place that may decide the future shape and size of Libya, and with it, the rest of the North African region.

Despite denials all round, Libya is in a state of civil war; one country, two governments. Civil War is a ferocious and all-out struggle. The conflict in Libya is certainly creating centrifugal forces that could break the state apart. Yet at the same time elements of the government machinery continue to operate throughout the country and across conflict lines. The national power grid keeps going, albeit intermittently, and pensions are getting paid. This ‘carry on as normal’ attitude is slowly weakening but nevertheless suggests that there are still powerful binding forces across the country, giving some hope of a return to unity. 

Enlightened opinion views Libya rather simplistically as a country in which two forces, one secular and one Islamist, are actively opposing each other but neither side has the resources to force an outcome. Stalemate exists. The reality is more complicated: alongside the two main protagonists - the internationally recognised, secular government in Tobruk, and the claimant, Islamist government in Tripoli - there is a complex mesh of militias and local gangs who have seized land or assets as they demand resources or power. Intermixed within this are tribes and local communities who have scores to settle from the Qadhafi era when those who showed loyalty to the regime received preferential treatment.

The resultant attrition of the state’s manpower and resources is eroding its strength and capability. This environment provides a perfect breeding ground for the widespread and violent crime, particularly murder, armed robbery and kidnap that is rife today. 

Now, however, a greater sense of strategic purpose is emerging in the conflict between the secular and Islamist forces. Previously the loose groupings or militias on each side have concentrated on securing assets local to their area. They now recognise that neither side can win unless they can secure national assets vital to their survival and prosperity. The Misrata based militias, who make up much of the largely Islamist Libya Dawn forces, are aware that control of the capital, Tripoli, is insufficient to maintain a viable state. Without any control over the vital oil and gas assets - the principal source of national income - their regime would have no revenues. They have now committed forces to a serious struggle taking place in the Gulf of Sirte whose outcome will define the viability and shape of the Libyan state. This is covered later in the article.

Water as a Weapon

The most vital strategic service, provision of water, has been largely left alone. In simple terms the majority of Libya’s water comes from the south through two giant pipelines, one in the West and one in the East. They meet and join up on the Mediterranean coast. The secular Dignity forces (loyal to the internationally recognised Libyan government based in Tobruk) could, if they wished, shut down the Eastern pipeline leading to Misrata. The effect would be catastrophic. Whilst the Western pipeline would still be operating, it is much smaller and could not pump sufficient water to sustain the population.
Why hasn’t water been exploited as a “weapon” so far? The optimistic belief is that things will settle down, life will return to normal within a continuing Libyan state and thus water is too sacred to touch. Or possibly the two ‘governments’ in Tobruk and Tripoli are trying to woo international opinion, by showing that they are governing the whole population and not denying water to anyone. Or it may just be that the Civil War hasn’t got to that stage - yet. Whether they do reach that stage may well be defined by the outcome of the current battles over control of Libya’s oil and gas.

The Battle for Oil

The scale of the nationwide violence tends to obscure the significance of a strategic conflict taking place by the Gulf of Sirte, astride the Cyrenaican border. The border was established centuries ago when ambassadors from the ancient provinces of Roman Tripolitania and Greek Cyrenaica marched at an agreed time toward each other from their respective Capitols, Carthage and Cyrene. Where they met would decide the border.

Known as Marble Arch, the border lies 130 kilometres west of Ajdabiya in the Gulf of Sirte. On the Cyrenaican side lies approximately 80% of the oil and gas resources of Libya. It is not surprising that Libyans living outside Cyrenaica are overwhelmingly in favour of maintaining the integrity of Libya. Equally unsurprising is the growing movement inside Cyrenaica toward secession and independence. However, Libya’s largest oil export terminal is some miles outside Cyrenaica at As Sidra. Close by, at Ras Lanouf, is the biggest oil refinery. These two assets are pivotal to any ambitions of financial independence in  Cyrenaica.

They are protected by Libya’s Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) under the command of Ibrahim Jadhran, a Cyrenaican. He is also the founder member of the Cyrenaica Political Bureau, a body that publicly supports federalism but whose stated aims are clearly secessionist. They are opposed by the forces of Libya Dawn, the military arm of the “claimant” government in Tripoli. There has been fierce fighting in the Wadi al Ahmar (Red Wadi) to the west of As Sidra. The seizure of the oil facilities at As Sidra and Ras Lanuf is a vital objective for Libya Dawn, important enough for them to withdraw from southern Libya to reinforce their assaulting forces. They have even tried a surprise assault from the sea; it failed, but caused grievous damage to oil storage facilities.

Libya Dawn has not dislodged the PGF despite a serious assault on 4th February which left many casualties on both sides. A potentially serious escalation took place at the same time with an attack on the Mabruk oil field 100 miles to the south: gunmen killed and kidnapped a number of guards and site staff. If Libya Dawn was involved in the assault it would indicate a significant shift in their tactics, reinforcing the vital importance of the Cyrenaican energy assets to them; and perhaps also their desperation.
The outcome of this particular struggle is likely to determine the future shape of Libya as a whole.  
Attitudes are hardening in Cyrenaica as they also attempt to force the Islamists of Ansar Al Sharia out of Benghazi and Derna.  If the Libyan Dawn Forces cannot break the stalemate there is a possibility that Cyrenaican opinion will shift further towards independence and a new international border in the Red Wadi.  
This would give satisfaction to the Cyrenaican ambassadors who settled the original border. When the two sides met, the Cyrenaicans accused Carthage of cheating by running and claimed that the border should be further west. The Ambassadors from Carthage were buried alive on the spot!

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.  

Links:


Khalifa Hifter Briefing [Friday 23 May 2014]

1 Background 

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 

2.1 Background 
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 
(Libya Office) 
Tel: +44(0)7551 154247 

Salamanca Group Libya Office 
Tel: +218(0)91 954 2006 

If you would like to contribute to this section of the LBBC website, in the first instance please contact the Secretariat at: secretariat@lbbc.org.uk or call +44 (0) 20 7152 4051