The recent militia-related violence in Benghazi has forced the government to agree to use force, when necessary, to disband illegal militias and to punish authorized militias that misbehave. For two years now the government has tolerated the militias because there were no organized police or military to deal with any violent opposition from these private armies. The recent upsurge in resistance, often instigated by armed civilians who were simply fed up with the gangster habits of many militias, has forced the government to act.
Protests at various oil facilities have reduced daily production by 16 percent. Many of the tribes living near the oil facilities in the sparsely populated south have come to depend on oil industry jobs. In effect, having one of these jobs makes you a rich man because more traditional forms of employment pay far less. Thus, those without oil related jobs are becoming increasingly aggressive about demanding a piece of the pie. The government does not want to encourage tribesmen to think they can get a do-nothing (but high paying) job just by making threats. This makes many poor but ambitious tribesmen angry, more determined, and sometimes violent. There is some good news. The economy doubled in 2012 and is on track to grow another 20 percent this year. The growth is due to getting oil production going again, as oil is 90 percent of GDP and 97 percent of exports.
The Libyan Air Force is buying two American C-130J transports.
June 9, 2013: On the Egyptian border eight Egyptians were wounded by Libyan border guards. It began when the Libyans caught four Egyptian merchants trying to sneak goods across (without paying the customs fee). The guards burned the truck and its cargo, and Egyptian police arrived and tried to intervene. That resulted in a gun battle that left four Egyptian smugglers and four Egyptian policemen wounded.
The head of the Libyan Army (Yusef al Mangoush) resigned, in response to yesterday’s battle against a militia in Benghazi. Mangoush was criticized for delays in forming a new army and for not intervening in yesterday’s Benghazi battle and refusing (because of government orders) to send any troops he did have to deal with the many instances of militia misbehavior.
June 8, 2013: In Benghazi a large crowd of civilians, many of them armed, surrounded a compound used by a militia and demanded that the militiamen get out of the neighborhood (where they had been acting like thugs). The militiamen resisted and a battle broke out. Nearly 150 people were killed or wounded and the surviving militiamen fled. The compound they were using was set on fire.
June 2, 2013: In the south ancient animosities between tribes left at least five dead and dozens wounded. Kaddafi used tribal loyalties to maintain power and favored certain tribes and some of the pro-Kaddafi tribes kept fighting after Kaddafi died in 2011. The violence is not so much about putting Kaddafi followers back into power but holding on to Kaddafi era privileges and avoiding punishment for crimes committed to support Kaddafi’s rule. In this case violence continued on the southern border where the pro-rebel Tabu tribesmen were put in charge of border (with Sudan, Chad, and Niger) security. There they constantly skirmished with the pro-Kaddafi Zwai. Another element of this rivalry was that the Tabu are black African, while the Zwai are Arab. Kaddafi supported Arab domination over black African Arabs, something many Arabs still support.
May 30, 2013: At an oilfield 1,000 kilometers southwest of the capital 45 security guards went on strike and halted pumping operations. The dispute was over late pay and poor living conditions. The oil field produces about five percent of Libya’s oil.
May 29, 2013: In Benghazi a roadside bomb killed three soldiers.
May 28, 2013: The government has agreed (after much pressure from groups in eastern Libya) to move most operations of the national oil company from Tripoli to Benghazi. That will mean thousands of jobs for the east.
The head of the national legislature (Mohammed Magarief
) is resigning because of the new law that bans any officials who once worked for the Kaddafi government. Magarief was very popular and had been opposed to Kaddafi for over two decades before the 2011 revolution.
May 26, 2013: Niger is demanding that Libya do something about Islamic terrorist groups who have established bases in southern Libya. Niger believes that the men who carried out two recent terror attacks in Niger came from Libya. The Tuareg tribes in southern Libya are not particularly into Islamic radicalism but have been known to harbor Islamic terrorists if the money was right. It is believed that some of the Islamic terrorists from Mali eventually made their way to southern Libya because sanctuary was assured by tribes who stayed bought once you paid them.
May 21, 2013: In Benghazi soldiers arrested several men and seized over 200 anti-tank mines and bomb making materials. One soldier was wounded during the operation.
The Interior Minister resigned, largely because of his failure to get a new national police force organized and reduce the growing lawlessness.
May 20, 2013: The U.S. has identified five men involved in the attack in Benghazi last September that left the American ambassador and three other Americans dead. The Libyan government refuses to arrest the five because they are protected by powerful Islamic radical militias.
May 19, 2013: In Benghazi officials have determined that an explosion outside a hospital last week was an accident, not a bomb.
May 18, 2013: In Tripoli a bomb went off near the
Algerian, Greek, and Saudi embassies, causing only light damage to a car. In Benghazi another bomb went off, wounding a soldier.