Libya political risk assessment

23 February 2011

Former leader reported to have been shot, captured and killed in his hometown Sirte

20 October 2011

On 20 October, it was reported that former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had been shot in both legs,captured and killed. The National Transitional Council (NTC) said Qaddafi was captured in his hometown of Sirte after the city was liberated.

Civil unrest broke out in Libya on 18 February in Benghazi. Nato enforced a UN resolution no-fly zone over Libya in March. Qaddafi has not been since seen May.

On 17 October, the UK embassy in Tripoli was reopened and a new ambassador to Libya was appointed. The embassy was closed in February as rebels clashed with forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi.

In an unannounced visit to Tripoli on 18 October, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US would like to see the former Libyan leader captured or killed. Clinton also offered the leader of the National Transitional Council (NTC) $11m in additional aid.

Later in the week, the NTC became the first government in the world to recognise Syria’s opposition movement as a “legitimate authority”.

Guma al-Gamaty, the UK-based coordinator for the NTC, which now holds interim government status, said it was not premature to acknowledge a new authority in Syria.

1 September 2011

The chairman of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said that former leader Muammar Qaddafi was still a threat to Libya and the rest of the world. Jalil was speaking at a meeting of defence ministers in Doha on 29 August.

Qaddafi’s position in Libya is rapidly weakening. On 29 August, his wife Safia, two of his sons and a daughter fled to neighbouring Algeria.

The NTC also claimed that Qaddafi’s brother-in-law and intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Sanussi had been killed alongside Qaddafi’s son Khamis, in a clash at Bani Walid on 29 August.

US Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of Nato Joint Operations Command, said Nato’s mission will continue until at least 27 September when its mandate expires.

On 28 August, rebels surrounded Qaddafi’s birthplace in Sirte. Qaddafi’s forces used civilians as human shields to try and stop the attack.

In other developments, a burnt-out warehouse was discovered by Human Rights Watch that contained the charred remains of about 50 people. A further 50,000 people arrested by Qaddafi forces in recent months have still not been found.

26 May 2011

The clashes between Muammar Qaddafi and the opposition rebels have continued, with the government remaining in control of Tripoli and the western part of the country.

Nato airstrikes have proven insufficient in breaking the deadlock and the coalition leadership is now considering broadening its arsenal against the regime. France and Britain are reported to be considering deploying helicopter gunships in an effort to deliver more precise strikes against Qaddafi forces that have sought shelter in urban areas. French defence minister Gérard Longuet said attack helicopters would target Libyan fuel tankers and ammunition trucks.

Diplomatic relations with the opposition leadership deepened, as the US’ top Middle East official, Jeffrey Feltman, visited members of the National Transitional Council in the rebel capital of Benghazi on 22 May.

Britain and the US discussed plans to increase the flow of financial aid to Libya by widening the remit of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development to cover the countries subject to political upheaval during the Arab uprisings.

19 May 2011

Libyan oil minister Shukri Ghanem has fled to Tunisia on 18 May, in the most recent high-level defection from the embattled regime of Muammer Qaddafi. His defection comes amid reports of increasing demoralisation among pro-Qaddafi forces, which are still subject to coalition air attacks.

Ghanem was instrumental in bringing about a rapprochement with the West after years of hostile relations as a result of Qaddafi’s support for anti-Western terrorist groups.

The payment of more than $2bn in compensation for the bombing of a PanAm flight over Lockerbie in 1988 and Tripoli’s agreement to abandon secret programmes to develop nuclear and chemical weapons let to a thawing of relations.

He is the latest in a series of ministers to abandon the Qaddafi regime. In March, then-foreign minister Moussa Koussa defected and was questioned by intelligence officers in London before leaving for Qatar. Two former ministers joined the rebel’s National Transitional Council (NTC) at the outbreak of hostilities. Former justice minister Moustafa Abdul Jalil now heads the NTC, while ex-interior minister, Abdul Fatah Younes is serving as the military chief of staff.

12 May 2011

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi appeared on Libyan state television on 11 May. He has not been seen in public since he reportedly escaped the air strike that killed his son Saif al-Arab on 1 May. Qaddafi had been in his compound when the two Nato air strikes hit. He did not attend his son’s funeral.

On 9 May, fighter planes hit six targets in the capital. Nato forces have been carrying out airstrikes in Libya for the past month, under UN resolution 1973, which was passed in March to protect Libyan civilians.

5 May 2011

On 1 May, a Nato airstrike on Tripoli killed Saif al-Arab Qaddafi, the youngest son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

The 29-year-old was reportedly killed along with three of Qaddafi’s grandsons in a one-storey house in a residential neighbourhood of the capital. Qaddafi was in the building at the time, but was unharmed in the attack.

Nato said it had hit a military target, but denied targeting individuals.

Nato forces have been carrying out airstrikes in Libya for the past month under UN resolution 1973, which was passed in March to protect Libyan civilians.

27 April 2011

On 25 April, the Libyan government accused Nato of trying to assassinate Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi after two air strikes hit sites near the compound from where he is directing military operations.

Nato says it targeted communications headquarters used to coordinate attacks against civilians. On 26 April, troops loyal to Qaddafi extended their campaign to Berber towns in the western mountains and continued to battle rebels in the besieged rebel-held city of Misrata.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates is due to hold talks in Washington on 3 May with his British counterpart Liam Fox. One item on their agenda is the possibility of cutting fuel supplies to Qaddafi’s armed forces on the ground.

21 April 2011

On 20 April, Libya’s foreign minister said the country could hold free elections, supervised by the UN, within six months of an end of the conflict.

Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, who took over from Moussa Koussa after his defection from Libya in March, said the regime was prepared to consider an interim national government before elections could be held. Al-Obeidi said discussions about reform include whether Muammer Qaddafi should stay and in what role.

The European Union is awaiting UN approval to deploy as many as 1,000 ground troops to secure the delivery of aid to Libya. The EU has drawn up plans that will secure sea and land corridors inside Libya. Troops will not be engaged in combat under the plans but will be authorised to fight if threatened.

On 19 April, the British military announced that it is sending at least 10 senior officers to Benghazi to help the rebels oust Qaddafi. British commanders told Prime Minister David Cameron that the rebels lacked the organisation to effectively fight Qaddafi’s forces. Britain is also considering arming the rebels and launching ground attacks.

14 April 2011

On 11 April, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi accepted a proposal for a political solution to the country’s conflict. The solution was put forward by an African Union delegation, while visiting Tripoli.

The delegation consisted of the presidents of South Africa, Congo-Brazzaville, Mali and Mauritania, along with the foreign minister of Uganda.

The delegation then presented the plan to the opposition leadership in Benghazi in the east of Libya. South African President Jacob Zuma said Qaddafi had also called on Nato to stop air strikes on Libyan military targets to give the ceasefire a chance.

African Union officials say the proposed plan includes an immediate ceasefire, delivery of humanitarian aid, protection of foreign nationals and dialogue on the establishment of a transition period towards political reform.

However, opposition forces insist they will not consider any deal that involves Qaddafi or his family retaining power. On 13 April at a meeting in Doha attended by officials from the UK, the US and France, the UK’s foreign secretary, William Hague, said a ceasefire was not enough and that Qaddafi would remain a threat as long as he stays in Libya.

7 April 2011

Forces loyal to Muammer Qaddafi bombarded rebel controlled oil fields in eastern Libya on 6 April. The assault stopped production at the oil fields and came within a few hours of the opposition groups successfully exporting their first shipment of crude oil from Marsa el-Hariga, a port close to Tobruk.

The US administration had made it clear that it would not stop exports from the rebel-controlled Arabian Gulf Oil Company (Agoco). Qatar offered to market Libyan crude the week earlier, but was not involved in the first shipment.

Agoco said it was producing about 100,000 barrels a day (b/d), before being forced to shut down. The level was down from a pre-crisis level of more than 400,000 b/d. The company had about 3 million barrels stored in the Tobruk terminal before the tanker departed.

Meanwhile, rebels forces have also been forced to quit Brega after days of clashes with loyalists.

31 March 2011

On 30 March, Moussa Koussa, Libya’s foreign minister resigned and fled to the UK on board a plane charted from Tunisia. Koussa was head of Libyan foreign intelligence for 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s.

Meanwhile in Libya, Muammer Qaddafi’s army has expelled the rebels from the town of Bin Jawad, near the strategic oil hub of Ras Lanuf, making it clear that opposition forces are not strong enough to win the conflict even with air support from the international coalition.

Impatient at progress made against Qaddafi’s army, the US and the UK have raised the option of arming rebel forces, claiming legality under the UN resolution sanctioning the air operations against the Libyan regime.

Qatar also said providing weapons to Qaddafi’s opponents should be considered if air strikes fail to dislodge him. A Qatari proposal to sell oil from opposition-held areas of Libya to provide revenue for the insurgents will be studied by the coalition.

Earlier in the week, Turkey indicated it was willing to broker a ceasefire between Qaddafi’s regime and the opposition.

24 March 2011

On 19 March, missiles and ground attack aircraft descended on government forces near rebel-held Benghazi as an international coalition moved to enforce a UN-mandated no-fly zone and ceasefire.

The missiles also struck Tripoli, Misrata, Mitiga, Zawara and Sirte.

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had earlier agreed to the ceasefire, but his forces continued their assault on rebel positions in Benghazi. On 19 March, the no-fly zone was introduced and on 20 March, coalition missiles hit Qaddafi’s Bab al-Azizia compound in Tripoli.

US officials said the strikes were aimed at Libya’s armed forces and air defence systems, rather than Qaddafi himself. However, President Barack Obama said that removing Qaddafi was part of the policy. A rift also grew in the UK government when Prime Minister David Cameron said the removal of Qaddafi is desirable, while Defence Minister Liam Fox insisted on a mandate imposing a ceasefire.

The UAE dropped plans to send 24 aircraft to help enforce the no-fly zone due to the US’ and Europe’s reaction towards protests in Bahrain.

Coalition warplanes have continued to bombard Libyan government positions for a fifth night, but failed to quell fighting on the ground.

18 March 2011

Muammar Qaddafi’s loyalist forces continue to push eastwards towards Benghazi, the opposition stronghold.

The loyalist forces killed two protesters and two civilians on 16 March. Hundreds of people are fleeing over the border into Egypt as the army prepares to strike against Benghazi.

The Arab League has called for the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya as violence increased. The Security Council is expected to vote on 17 March on a resolution that would introduce a no-fly zone and authorise the use of air strikes to stop the advance of Qaddafi’s loyalists.

Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam predicted on 16 March that everything will be over in 48 hours.

10 March 2011

Muammar Qaddafi’s unrelenting response to attempts to oust him from power threaten to plunge the country into civil war. Recent reports indicate gains for government forces.

Government actions:

  • Removal of taxes and custom duties on foods, including wheat, rice, vegetable oil, sugar and infant formula

Political Risk assessment

The uprising in Libya shows no signs of reaching a quick conclusion. The UN has imposed sanctions and is looking at further intervention to stop the killings, including a no-fly zone. The situation is extremely volatile and is likely to escalate in the coming weeks.

23 February 2011

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is desperately clinging on to power with reports suggesting that he had lost control of more than 90 per cent of the country, following an uprising inspired by events in neighbouring Tunisia and Libya.

Fierce clashes between anti-government protestors and supporters of Qaddafi started in the port city of Benghazi in mid-February, but quickly spread to Tripoli. The challenge to Qaddafi’s regime has been unprecedented in its strength and the state’s response has been brutal; heavy weaponry and military aircraft have been deployed against protestors. Although it lacks a formal organised opposition and has a fragmented Islamist movement, Libya is now under serious threat. It is unclear how long the ageing Qaddafi, who has ruled the country for more than 40 years, will be able to hold out now that he has lost support of much of the armed forces, along with senior figures in his regime, and his influence is limited to Tripoli.

The uprising against him is the result of dissatisfaction over the lack of transparency, entrenched corruption associated with senior regime figures, and the denial of basic civil rights. In an hour-long televised address on 22 February, Qaddafi vowed to crush the revolt and said he would not leave the country, but would die a martyr.

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