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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
SNE Libya Security Summary - 24 March 2015
The UN Sponsored peace talks held on Morocco adjourned temporarily this week and UNSMIL chief Bernardino Leon flew to Brussels for talks with other municipal representatives. Later on Monday evening a frustrated Bernardino Leon flew back out of Tobruk after reports that angry crowds blocked his way from the airport after a surprise short notice trip into the town where he had planned to meet House of Representatives President Ageela Salah. The UNSMIL boss also stated this week that a Libyan municipalities council should play a key political role in the new Libya.
HoR PM Al Thinni`s government staked further claim on oil revenues through the Benghazi based NOC. Thinni`s government warned against attempts at illegal crude oil sales outside its recognized Benghazi based NOC. Also this week ENI made a significant offshore discovery at the Bahr Essalam South exploration field.
With a parting “Masalaamah”, US envoy to Libya, Deborah Jones announced she is ending her ambassadorial presence on Twitter. The Malta-based Jones said she was quitting because of the abuse she had received. She explained: “I have from time to time gone on strike against Twitter militias and those who resort to vulgar personal attacks in lieu of educated arguments”.
Reports are coming out that the battle for Sirte between Libya Dawn and Daesh is intensifying. Libya Dawn forces and Islamic State (IS / Daesh) followers have been fighting in Sirte since 14 March and the battle is getting closer and closer to the downtown area. Both sides appear based on reports coming out to be ready to fight to the end. Daesh issued a video this week stating they will turn Sirte and Misrata into “a hell like Fallujah” referring to Iraq’s Islamist hotbed city. They stated they will send suicide bombers to Misrata, a city already on heightened alert following car bomb attack last week.
Well known, controversial Militia Leader Bouka Al Araibi was killed in fierce fighting. Benghazi’s militant leader Mohamed Al-Araibi, more commonly known as Bouka, was killed in fighting on Monday in the city’s Gwarsha district. The death was announced by Al-Nabaa TV, seen as sympathetic to the Benghazi Revolutionaries’ Shoura Council, of which Bouka’s Brega Martyr’s Brigade was a part. Nuri Abu Sahmain, the president of the continuing General National Congress is reported to have expressed his condolences at the fighter’s demise.
Al Thinni`s HoR Government is still seeking to make new contracts with International companies to supply 750mw of power in the East of Libya. Tripoli has long run with no power-cuts and fuel is in good supply.
Tuaregs are demanding that Chief of Staff Major General Abdul Razzaq Al-Nazhuri apologize for calling them “terrorists”, in an interview on Friday, Nazhuri said that the current fighting in Obari is a war by the Libyan National Army (LNA) against terrorism.
General Hefter gave a talk to the associated press warning of Daesh infiltrating Europe unless international assistance is given to his forces to fight them in the east of Libya. Meanwhile the Benghazi death toll rises despite Hefter claims of taking 85% of the city.
Renewed fighting broke out for control of Al-Brak Military base North of Sabha, a very strategic point with access roads leading East and West of Libya.
The Ras Jdir Border Crossing Point remains open despite the Daesh attack in Tunis this past week and claims that the perpetrators were trained in Libya.
We are advising NO movement to the western area of Libya in and around Kikla and Rujban and other surrounding areas where fighting is still ongoing between the Zintan and 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 package 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.
SNE remains fully operational on the ground within Tripoli, where our British 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.
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 email@example.com or call our Dubai office on +971 44561542 or +971 503786803
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Monday March 9 2015: Dialogue Resumes in Morocco as IS Militants Sweep Oil Fields
During the second half of last week, UN-backed negotiations between Libya’s two main national blocs resumed in Morocco, precisely in Skhirat near the country’s capital city Rabat. For the second time in a row, negotiations’ meetings saw the participation of representatives from both the House of Representatives (HoR) and the General National Congress (GNC). According to reports and sources, participants discussed criteria for identifying potential candidates to be appointed in a new national unity government, but no names or rumours have surfaced for the post of Prime Minister. Both sides agreed that the cabinet should prioritise issues of security and internal stability in cooperation with the country’s outside partners. As of Sunday 8 March, representatives form both the GNC and HoR agreed to return to their constituencies to report on discussions made in Morocco before talks resume next week, either in Skhirat or in an undisclosed location in Algeria.
In the midst of this round of negotiations, UNSMIL Chief Bernardino Leon publicly encouraged the imposition of an EU-led naval blockade of Libya in order to stop weapons smuggling as well as to prevent the illegal sale of Libya’s oil. When asked about it, Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, welcomed the idea. However, Mogherini also confirmed that the formation of an inclusive national unity government is a prerequisite for any concrete discussion around the idea of sending an EU monitoring mission to protect Libya’s key infrastructure and internal stability. The provision of any other non-humanitarian help, as well as a discussion around the lifting of the weapons embargo, would be subjected to the same conditions.
Furthermore, referring to last week’s meetings, Bernardino Leon stressed that both the Tobruk-based and Tripoli-based blocs appear imbued by a renewed sense of urgency. It is reasonable to expect that a good part of this is due to the sweeping rise of Islamic State-linked groups inside Libya and particularly in and around Sirte. As a matter of fact, Sirte and its surrounding region continue to be marred by increasing levels of lawlessness and to represent one of the hotbeds for radical Islamist groups in the country, alongside Benghazi, Derna and Tripoli. Troops belonging to Libya’s Army 166th Brigade, affiliated with the Tripoli-based government, are currently stationed on the outskirts of Sirte, but no military assault on the city appears to be imminent. On the contrary, and in an explicit attempt to avoid the ‘mistakes made by Haftar in Benghazi’, tribal negotiations continued throughout the past weeks, bringing together representatives from Sirte and Misrata in a bid to resolve the stalemate in Sirte without shedding blood and transforming the city into a battlefield.
A recent article by Nancy Porsia on Deutsche Welle makes for an extremely interesting read, documenting Ansar al-Shari’a’s rise in Sirte and the new approach taken by IS members in town:
"Everyone loves Ansar al-Sharia in Sirte, because it was the only force since the end of the former regime to ensure security in the city," a resident told DW. The Islamists replaced the local administrative system about three years ago, attracting hundreds of men of different tribes to Sirte. The members of minor tribes joined Ansar seeking protection from of the more powerful tribes. But the death of the head of Ansar, Ahmed Attir, in early 2014 left a vacuum that opened the door to IS. Since the arrival of IS in the city, police have disappeared from the streets, and all but three Salafist mosques have been giving sermons that perpetuate the rhetoric of religious hatred from Iraq and Syria, inciting jihad.
But the slaughterers are invisible on the streets. IS foreign fighters stay behind closed doors, whereas IS's local followers move around in plainclothes, explains a local, who declines to give his identity for security reasons. There is no show of military force here. The pickup truck laden with heavy artillery seen in a video of IS parading though the city, seems to have evaporated.
But the growth of the IS in Libya did not stop at the city of Sirte. Throughout the whole of last week, in fact, militants based in Sirte’s countryside and presumed to be linked to the IS carried out a number of attacks on oil fields under control of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, killing several guards and deliberately inflicting significant damage to the oil fields infrastructure. On Tuesday 3 March, militants attacked and damaged the oil fields of Mabruk and Bahi, which had already been assaulted in the month of February, as well as that of Dahra. Furthermore, another attack was carried out on Friday 6 March on the oil field in Ghani. During this last operation, militants reportedly kidnapped up to 9 foreign workers, including an Austrian, a Czech and various African, Filipino and Bangladeshi citizens. As a consequence of these attacks, Libya’s NOC declared force majeure over 11 oil fields in the Sirte oil basin.
It is evident by now that Jihadist militants active in Libya have identified oil-related infrastructure as a key target for their destabilising strategy aimed at weakening and delegitimising all other actors on the Libyan stage. If anything, in the coming months, further attacks on oil-related infrastructure and workers should be expected, not only in Sirte and its surrounding region, but also in the ‘Oil Crescent’ region, as well as in areas with a low-density population throughout eastern, western and southern Libya.
Hopefully, the fact that members of the IS Libyan cells have appeared on the Libyan scene with the slaughter of 21 Egyptian Copts and by threatening all other parties active in the country will encourage both sides to reach a compromise soon. Or at least, before prolonged fighting just ends up benefiting radical Jihadists groups currently active and, most worryingly, possibly laying low in the country, waiting for the best moment to strike and take control of large swaths of territory.
|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 email@example.com
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.
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
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