What divides Libyans more than anything else is their oil wealth. The tribes living where the oil comes from want a larger share. Actually, everyone wants more, for one reason or another. No agreement has been reached and many groups near the oil fields and export terminals have seized oil facilities had halted most (over 70 percent by the end of 2013) oil exports. All this was largely unexpected because at the start of 2013 oil production was at 1.4 million barrels a day and nearly back to normal. Then some of the militias the government had hired to provide security at oil facilities decided their loyalties were more to themselves than the national government. Before the 2011 revolution oil accounted for over 90 percent of government revenue and over 70 percent of GDP. With over $12 billion in oil revenue lost so far the government is running out of credit and will soon have no way to pay for essential imports, like food. Because the refineries that provide fuel for Libyans are also shut down the government has to spend scarce cash to import fuel. That won’t last long because the government will have run out of cash and credit sometime in 2014. After that the economy will collapse and with that food and other essentials will not be available for most Libyans. Before that happens, force will be the only option, as starvation is the last thing anyone wants. The economy is already in decline because many payments have not been made for things that can be delayed (infrastructure and replacements for old or destroyed equipment).
Many Libyans are justifiably angry at the interim parliament they elected in July 2012 for a term of just 18 months. This interim group was to arrange a constitutional rewrite and run the country in the meantime. The interim group was unable to do either task and voted to extend its power in January, for the rest of the year. This was very unpopular. But as angry as many Libyans are they have only themselves to blame. Too many Libyans support factions that cannot or will not agree with enough other factions to create a working government. It’s another case of, “we have met the enemy and it is us.”
Sporadic fighting continues in many parts of the country, especially outside the capital (Tripoli) where pro-Kaddafi militias are still active and along the southern border where pro-Kaddafi tribes resent the loss of cash and goods Kaddafi would regularly send them. In the east (Benghazi) Islamic terrorist groups often fight with each other and anyone else who openly disagrees with them.
A recent study concluded that Islamic terrorist activity in North Africa and the Sahel (the semi-desert region below the Sahara Desert and north of the forests of Central Africa) increased 60 percent in 2013. This was a result of the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings that overthrew the governments of Libya and Tunisia. That contributed to the rebellion in northern Mali in 2012. Eliminating the police state governments of Tunisia and Libya, and freeing many Islamic terrorists from prison, was a huge boost to these terrorist organizations and it’s going to take a while to undo the damage.
February 19, 2014: A national election was held to select 60 delegates (out of 692 candidates) to the panel that will create a new constitution. Turnout was poor, with only 15 percent of those eligible actually voting. Only 29 percent of the 3.4 million eligible voters bothered to resister and even fewer actually voted. The last election (19 months ago) saw 79 percent register. People are discouraged because of all the corruption, chaos and poverty. Islamic terrorist groups also threatened voters at some polling stations, because they believe democracy is un-Islamic.
February 18, 2014: Two major militias in Tripoli (Al Qaaqaa and Al Sawaaq) gave the parliament 72 hours to turn over power to the Islamic groups or else force would be used. The government called in more troops to prevent that, but the two militias still have their weapons and ambitions. The government called this an attempted coup.
February 17, 2014: Oil production dropped 70,000 barrels to 390,000 barrels a day because of yet another militia taking over an export facility.
February 15, 2014: The former head of the military (Khalifa Haftar) called for parliament to resign and for the army to take over. Haftar was arrested and charged with calling for a coup.
The last head of internal intelligence under Kaddafi, Abdullah Mansur, was finally given up by Niger and extradited to Libya. Niger was finally convinced that Mansur was still involved in stirring up trouble in Libya, especially with the tribes along the Niger border with Libya.
February 14, 2014: In the west (Zliten) 92 prisoners escaped from a prison. Only four guards were on duty for 220 inmates. Reinforcements were called and 19 of the escapees were quickly recaptured.
February 13, 2014: In Tripoli a RPG was fired at a TV station, wounding a watchman. There has been growing violence against journalists who publicize crimes some militias are committing, or sometimes for just criticizing the political opinions of someone who has gunmen on the payroll.
February 9, 2014: In the east (Benghazi) two bombs went off early in the day, causing some property damage but no casualties.
February 8, 2014: In the east (Darna) a former prosecutor was assassinated. The dead man was an Islamic hardliner and resigned in March 2013 for health reasons.
February 6, 2014: In the east (Benghazi) gunmen attacked the studios of two TV stations. In Tripoli gunmen tried to attack the army headquarters compound but were repulsed.
February 5, 2014: In the east (Benghazi) someone fired an RPG and the warhead landed in a primary school playground and wounded twelve children. Two militias were engaged in a battle nearby.
February 3, 2014: In neighboring Tunisia police raided an Islamic terrorist camp outside the capital (Tunis) and killed seven Islamic terrorists, including a local leader. Like Libya, Tunisia initially released a lot of Islamic terrorists from jail after their 2011 revolution and let them organize. But soon the Islamic terrorists were trying to overthrow the newly elected government and, unlike in Libya, the Tunisians united against the Islamic terrorist groups and have killed or arrested most of them in the last year.
February 2, 2014: The government revealed that the last of Kaddafis chemical weapons was destroyed on January 26th. Kaddafi had agreed to destroy his chemical weapons stockpiles in 2003 but that effort was stalled by the 2011 revolution. The Kaddafi destruction was originally planned to take until 2016. After 2011 NATO agreed to provide money and training for Tunisians to finish the destruction sooner, which is what was done.
February 1, 2014: In Tripoli 54 inmates escaped from a prison because of incompetence by the guards and lack of effective supervision of security of the prison.
In the east (Benghazi) a retired police colonel was shot dead as were two sons of police officials. Islamic terrorists, or criminal gangs, have been killing police and intelligence commanders for over a year now.