Council Members

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.

LBBC Business Risk AdvisorNevertheless, 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.

Bloxtons

Bloxtons provides fully bespoke risk management and corporate intelligence services. Through our corporate intelligence services we allow clients to make the most efficient use of their time in country, enable access to interlocutors otherwise not possible and provide thorough screening and due diligence capabilities. In Libya we have established strong relationships with government entities as well as a wide range of non-governmental actors across all regions.

Operating in any fragile environment can be challenging; Bloxtons allows companies to go about their daily business with the minimum interruption whilst ensuring complete duty of care compliance. Some of the services we offer include: full in-country security analysis and briefing; bespoke research and analysis products; re-entry planning; country wide evacuation contingency planning; 24/7 emergency response and tracking; due diligence and investigations.

For further information on the risk management and corporate intelligence services Bloxtons can provide to you and your clients please email enquiries@bloxtons.com or call our UK office +44 (0)20 3239 3363.


Links:

Libya Weekly Strategic Update - 2 November 2014:
This week’s strategic update from Bloxtons looks at territorial gains made by forces loyal to General Hafter and the continuing and multifaceted attempts at mediation.

Regional update

Tripoli, the West and South

Whilst Tripoli has largely returned to normal (with the exception of the return of expat workers and diplomatic missions) heavy fighting has continued in Kikla (150km south of Tripoli) and the Southern areas of the Jabal Naffusah.  The fighting continues in large part to be between Zintani militia and non-Misratan elements of the Misratan-led alliance and whilst initially a fight over strategic towns and supply routes it has now become far more personal and tribal given the nature of the fighting in Kikla and the associated deaths.

The East

Forces under the control of General Hafter have in the past week made territorial gains in Benghazi. There is now a clearer east/west territorial control divide in Benghazi itself with Hafter forces solidifying gains in the east of the city, the airport and large areas of the central district (where fighting remains most intense).


Political Analysis

Pressure is building on the government of Prime Minister Abdallah al-Thinni to pursue political means of resolving the ongoing conflict between forces allied with him and Operation Dignity and those of the Misrata-led Alliance (MLA) and Operation Libya Dawn. Seemingly unable to make definitive headway in its offensive against the MLA in Benghazi and elsewhere, al-Thinni appears to be considering entering into negotiations with his opponents. Nonetheless, given the failure of previous “peace talks,” he has clearly not forsaken a military approach at this juncture.

During the course of a visit to Khartoum this week by al-Thinni, the Sudanese government said that it would launch its own series of negotiations to avert a deepening crisis in Libya. Although there was no immediate comment from al-Thinni, he subsequently confirmed that he would entertain negotiations with opposing groups. The statements from both Sudan and the al-Thinni government, however, are so vague as to suggest that little will come of the Sudanese proposal. In addition, members of al-Thinni’s government and its coalition are sceptical of Sudan and its intentions, which will prevent the Khartoum initiative from moving forward.

The alleged Sudanese proposal is just the latest attempt to find a negotiated solution to the Libyan crisis. Talks in September that were organized by the UN in Ghadames failed to gain traction because they only included members of the democratically elected House of Representatives (HoR). The talks took as their basis the legitimacy of the HoR as Libya’s only government, whereas the conflict between the MLA and the al-Thinni government and Operation Dignity is about this very issue. As a result the talks were ineffective and short-lived. Their host, head of the UN Support Mission to Libya Bernardino Leon, has subsequently warned that talks must be seriously pursued or Libya faces protracted civil war. During the recent Paris conference Leon also sought to coordinate the mediation and support being driven forward by numerous special envoys representing both states and international organisations such as the African Union and EU.

Simultaneously, Algeria’s Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra tried to launch his own initiative to resolve the crisis. Algiers first endorsed reaching out to as wide a range of stakeholders as possible, including even Ahmad Qadhafadam, a staunch Qadhafi loyalist, and Abdelhakim Belhaj, a former militant Islamist. In the face of opposition from Libyans and the international community, Lamamra has had to back away from such an aggressive agenda and is now struggling to regain momentum. Making matters worse, it appears that the Algerian initiative may be falling victim to political rivalries in Algiers itself. Algeria’s talks were supposed to have been launched this month, but that is no longer possible and now they may never happen at all.

Meanwhile, General Khalifa Haftar and his Operation Dignity campaign, which is now officially recognized by the al-Thinni government, launched a new offensive on 15 October to gain control of Benghazi. Although the campaign was more effective than previous offensives, at least in part due to winning the support of an armoured battalion and to efforts of some of city’s civilian population, Haftar is still nowhere close to being definitively in control. Even if Haftar had been able to win control of Benghazi, Tripoli is still very much out of his reach. But at this point, Dignity controls neither.

It is perhaps because of this “stalemate” that al-Thinni appears to be willing to entertain almost any proposed peace initiative. Not only does doing so allow al-Thinni to gain the moral high ground, but it also may be his only way of remaining politically relevant.

The weekly Libya oil report is now a paid subscription service. To ensure continued access and to discuss subscription options and Bloxtons' range of bespoke services please contact Sarah Price: sarah.price@bloxtons.com

To discuss how Bloxtons can support your work in Libya please contact us by email at enquiries@bloxtons.com or call our UK office +44 (0)20 3239 3363 or Australian office +61 (0)3 9028 2873. 

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