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article imageOp-Ed: Insecurity in Libya increases

By Ken Hanly     Dec 1, 2013 in World
Tripoli - Libya continues in a state of insecurity and violence and is faced with declining revenues as protests shut off oil production and export in many facilities.
In the most recent violence a soldier was gunned down by unidentified assailants who also attacked a Libyan special forces base. In a nearby town, Derna, offices used by NGO's were blown up. The violence in Benghazi follows on the killing of a policeman and soldier on Friday while four more soldiers were killed on Thursday. There have been clashes between the army and Ansar al Sharia militia, including one on Monday that killed at least eight people and wounded many more.
In the south of Libya, a security official reports that 40 inmates of a prison in the city of Sabha escaped after the prison was attacked by unidentified gunmen . Another recent incident near the city killed at least 20 people when a military weapons depot explosion killed a group trying to loot ammunition from the facility.
Recently, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and Ali Zeidan the Libyan Prime Minister in London in order to discuss the security situation in Libya. The security problem is created in large part by the rebel militias toppled the Gaddafi regime in 2011. Each have their own ideology and areas that they control. Some have been hired by the government to provide security.
Kerry told a press conference: "We talked to the prime minister today about the things we can do together, the United Kingdom and the United States and its other friends, in order to help Libya to achieve the stability that it needs. Libya has gone through great turmoil, particularly after the course of the last weeks. And the Prime Minister informed us of a transformation that he believes is beginning to take place and could take place because the people of Libya have spoken out and pushed back against the militias. So this is a moment of opportunity where there's a great deal of economic challenge, there's a great deal of security challenge."
Militia from Misrata were withdrawn from Tripoli after violent clashes that killed many protesting against them, but as indicated above, violence is still happening throughout Libya and the militia are still not under control. Since last spring the US, Britain, and Italy have begun a multi-year program to both train and equip a Libyan force of 5,000 to 7,000 soldiers and a specialized counter-terrorism unit as well.
Protests at oil producing and export facilities have shut down much of Libya's oil exports and curtailed production. The government is dependent on revenue from the oil sector to fund its own operations and pay its civil servants. Silman Qajam a member of the parliamentary energy commitee says;
“...the government is running on its reserves. If the situation doesn’t improve, it won’t be able to pay salaries by the end of the year”.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said that the government will not be able to pay salaries and may be required to seek loans if armed militias who were blocking oil fields and ports continued to stop production and exports. Zeidan told reporters: " We are facing a financial crisis. Oil revenues are down to 20 percent". If militia on the government payroll are not paid one can expect even more violence from them. Perhaps, the government will make sure they are the first to be paid.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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