On The Brink Of Civil War

BMI View:   Prospects of a return to full-blown civil war in Libya are high. As a result, we have lowered the country's Short-Term Political Risk Rating. The economic situation will remain dire, and lawlessness in the country will contribute to increasing risks to regional security.

Recent political developments in Libya reaffirm our view that there is a high risk it will return to full-blown civil war in 2014 ( see 'Risks Of Civil War Increasing Steadily', May 23). More than 200 people have been killed in the recent fighting in the capital Tripoli and the city of Benghazi, in the eastern region of Cyrenaica. Militias have been battling at the country's main international airport near Tripoli. Rocket attacks and shelling reportedly damaged or destroyed 90% of the planes as of the beginning of August, while the control tower was struck and fuel storage tanks set ablaze. On one side of the ongoing battle are the Zintan brigades, based in the city 130 km southwest of Tripoli, and their political allies, united by their claim to be a bulwark against Islamist extremists. Opposing them are Islamist fighters loyal to militias from the western port of Misrata, allied with the Justice and Construction party - an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood - and other groups who claim they are fighting against elements tied to former long-time Libyan ruler Muammar Qadhafi. 

At the end of July, Islamist fighters from the Ansar al-Sharia group and former anti-Qadhafi rebels overran the main base of the Saiqa Special Forces Brigade in Benghazi, a group loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar - a former Libyan army officer who has pledged to defeat Islamist militias. Haftar denied claims by Islamist militias that they have taken control of the eastern city, and we expect the general to seek to retake Benghazi over the coming weeks.

Total Lack Of Government Control
Libya - Short-Term Political Risk Rating

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This article is tagged to:
Sector: Country Risk
Geography: Libya