LIBYA -BENGHAZI HAS BEEN HIJACKED. (UPDATED 26th NOVEMBER 2013)
In Benghazi, Libya’s second city, senior police and military personnel are being summarily executed by persons unknown. Still unresolved is the killing of US Ambassador Stephens, an event which upset the American people and which left a blemish on the career of Secretary Hillary Clinton. The killing was probably indented to provoke an attack on Libya by the US. The US wisely restrained its more hawkish leaders and acted with commendable, though clearly pained, restraint. However, someone in Benghazi is seeking to paralyse the rule of law. There is talk of a Benghazi hit list and fear of retribution has silenced the people.
At last the democratically elected government under prime minister Dr Ali Zeidan has commenced to get a grip on events and the new interior minister, Ashour Shuwail, has set out his priorities, at the top of which is his intention to stop the Benghazi killings and find and punish the perpetrators.
Benghazi is a fiercely independent city but its people do not deserve the dreadful events which have marred recent months. They have given much for the future of Libya. The city was cordially hated by Gaddafi who neglected it in favour of his home town of Sirte. Despite (or because of) this it was Benghazi people who first had the courage to defy the Gaddafi regime and risk all to fight for a democratic government, a free press and an end to the repression and fear. Unless the security situation is resolved the wealth which is the right of its citizens will be denied them. Diplomats will avoid the city and normal commerce will be curtailed. Eastern Libya needs investment and its infrastructure is in critical need of repair and restoration.
The interior minster’s second priority is to bring the revolutionary militias into the government fold, either by disbanding them or absorbing them into the state police or the military. Benghazi and Eastern Libya has some notably recalcitrant militias amongst which are Ansar al Sharia commanded by Mohammed Zahawi, Rafallah al Sahati commanded by Mohammed al Gharabi and the Zawia Martyr’s brigade. These militias were apparently curtailed, or at least restrained, following the ‘Save Benghazi’ rally on Friday 21st September when hundreds of demonstrators arrived at the Salafist Ansar Al-Sharia militia headquarters in Benghazi’s Nasr square demanding the brigade leave immediately. Even so, they still appear to exercise a malign and undemocratic influence.
There are signs of resolve and competence in the new Libyan government.
Update 21st December 2012
This from the Libya Herald shows how urgent the matter of security in Benghazi has become.
Update 6th January 2013
At last some progress.
Update 9th January 2013
A very interesting piece – worth following up:
Update 25th January 2103
US and UK citizens urged to leave Benghazi and news of a threat to Libyan oil instillations. Benghazi’s British School teachers elect to stay but are watchful:
Update 23rd February 2013
This from the Libya Herald gives us some idea of how difficult it is to police Benghazi at the moment. A new police chief has been appointed and let us hope he can handle the situation.
Update 29th March 2013
The alleged sexual assault of British Citizens in Benghazi is disturbing. We await the reaction of Libyan women to this event with interest. Read these:
Update 9th June 2013
Reports of a very serious incident in Benghazi today.
Update 26th November 2013
Serious clashes in Benghazi:
Ansar al Sharia’s Derna units attempt to move to Benghazi but are stopped by Libyan government forces:
Ansar al Sharia forces from Ajdabia reported to have attempted to join the Benghazi fight.