Friday, January 17, 2014

Libya updates January 17 - 21 , 2014 -- Present instability seemed centered around the actual and perceived weakness f PM Ali Zeidan ...... Revealing some of the internal divisions that exist between the government, the GNC and the Chief of Staff, and that are contributing to the ineffectiveness of the new Libyan state and the current political paralyses, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan admitted during Tuesday’s press conference that the Chief of Staff was refusing to take orders from him or send troops to the recent hotspot of Sebha .

Sebha airbase “back in pro-Qaddafi hands”: Murzuk commander

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 21 January 2014:
The Tamenhint airbase 30 kilometres north-east of Sebha is reported to be back in pro-Qaddafi hands after Tebu forces from Murzuk who were guarding it withdrew. They unilaterally pulled out yesterday evening claiming that the government was deliberately exploiting clashes in Sebha between Tebus and Awlad Sulaiman in order to divert attention from moves to replace it with a new administration.
It has not been possible to confirm the allegations.
The airbase was first seized on Saturday by pro-Qaddafi elements but they then withdrew by evening as government forces led by the Murzuk unit approached.

“Ali Zeidan is the one who contributed the worsening situation in the south in an attempt to divert attention,” the head of Murzuk Military Council, Colonel Barka Warduko, told the Libya Herald today.  He said he had withdrawn all his troops from the base.
Warduko accused the Prime Minister of increasing tensions in the south – at Sebha, the airbase and the Sarir oilfield –  in an attempt to undermine calls for his removal on the basis that with the country’s security under threat Libya could not afford a change in government.  He said that Zeidan was being deliberately partial, supporting one group and neglecting others. He claimed that the situation in the south, particularly the animosity between the Tebus and the Awlad Sulaiman, was getting worse despite the best efforts of various mediators to promote reconciliation.
Warduko appeared, however, not to be overly concerned that his decision to withdraw from the airbase had allowed pro-Qaddafi an opening.  He said that forces from Misrata were on their way to ensure law and order in the area.
Misratan forces headed south on Saturday, following a meeting in Misrata between Defence Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni and Misrata Local Council and other Misratan officials, but they went to Jufra rather than Sebha.
Forces from Zintan are also expected to head towards Sebha to help secure the area.
Clashes have continued in the southern regional capital. It was reported this afternoon to be quetter than yesterday but that overnight clashes had resulted in three dead and nine wounded being taken to the medical centre.
Shops and business remain shut, according to the Libyan news agency LANA.
Meanwhile yesterday, the National Security Directorate in Sebha warned that the lack of human and financial resources from the authorities was exacerbating the crisis in the area. At a meeting yesterday, it said that it was trying its best to maintain security but that it lacked the wherewithal to ensure the safety of banks, businesses and other institutions and maintain law and order on the streets.

Justice and Construction Party pulls ministers from government

By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 21 January 2014:
The Justice and Construction Party (J&C) today pulled out top ministers who represented the party in the current government, citing its continued poor performance.
Those involved are the Minister of Oil, Abdulbari Arrusi, Minister of Housing and Utilities, Ali Al-Sherief, Minister of Youth and Sport, Abdul Salam Guelleh, Economy Minister, Mustafa Abu Fanas, and Electricity Minister, Ali Maihiriq.
J&C party members holding deputy ministerial posts are not, however, included in this withdrawal, a member of the executive office of the J&C party, Mohamed Al-Harizi, told the Libya Herald. The purpose of the move, he said, was to target the most senior positions.
The party released a statement blaming groups that have defended the current government for the move. It said these had to take responsibility for the consequences resulting from a failure of government.
“We tried several times to repair and reform the performance of the government, but unfortunately they have continued to work at the same level with no success,” Harizi said.
It was expected that Congress would hold a successful vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, he said, but discussions were still ongoing and some Congress member continued to support the government, despite what Harizi described as its failure to establish security in Libya.

GNC’s no-confidence vote against Zeidan falls short on votes

By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 21 January 2014:
The General National Congress (GNC) today announced that it had failed to get a quorum to proceed with a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.
In a statement released today, 99 Congress members confirmed their intention to withdraw confidence in Zeidan, despite admitting that they did not get support from the prerequisite number of 120 Congress members. The 99 said their signatures gave a message to the government expressing dissatisfaction with its performance.
Independent Congressman from Zlitan Abdullah Jwan described the current situation in the GNC as “major chaos” and added that Congress members were changing their minds in a flash.
“Some Congress members visited Zeidan in his office several times to try and persuade him to submit his resignation,” Jwan told the Libya Herald. He added that there had not yet been any comment from Zeidan on this.
There had also been a separate verbal agreement reached among some political blocs to withdraw the confidence in Zeidan, Jwan said. These members apparently put forward the names of three ministers who, they said, could temporarily run the government until Zeidan could be replaced.
These were the Acting Interior Minister, Sadiq Abdulkareem, the Minister of Higher Education, Mohamed Hassan, or Defence Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni.
In another move, the Ya Bilady (My country), Independent Opinion, Democratic Convergence, and Home blocks agreed to choose a “national figure” as an alternative to Zeidan before proceeding with any no-confidence vote, Jwan said. However, the Justice and Construction Party, the Martyrs block and some independent Congress members did not agree, insisting on an immediate call of no-confidence.

Zeidan attempts to save his government in a live interview

By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 20 January 2014:
Speaking live from Sebha in an interview on the Qatar-based Libya Al-Ahrar statellite TV channel, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said that he did not “covet” the job of Prime Minister.
Zeidan said that doing the job of Prime Minister was a national, patriotic duty “I am a struggler” for Libya’s (anti-Qaddafi) cause, he added.
Regarding the possibility of being voted out of office by the GNC as he was on air, Zeidan insisted he was indifferent to being voted out by the GNC, if an agreed replacement is found. He nevertheless warned of the possibility of a power vacuum and the further ineffectiveness of a caretaker government.
Zeidan added that if people complain that his government was not achieving enough, a caretaker government, which would follow if his government was voted out, would by definition achieve even less.
Asked about accusations that he or his government were corrupt, Zeidan insisted that he has never been corrupt.
With regards to the ineffectiveness of his government, Zeidan said that his government was opposed from day one by some groups, including the Justice and Construction party (J&C) Islamist party and the Loyalty to the Martyrs’ Blood block.
Asked why did he choose to come out in an interview now and name those who oppose the progress of his government, he said that he was reacting to public demands.
In general, Zeidan seemed to lay the blame of the lack of achievement by his government on the GNC and the Libya’s post revolutionary phase.
Questioned about the existence of Jihadists, criminals and terrorists in Libya, Zeidan said such groups exist all over the world and Libya is no exception. However, he would not label or name groups existing in Libya.
With regards to criminal or terrorists that had been arrested by the Libyan authorities, but have never been named or officially charged or brought to trial, Zeidan said that it was not his job to name them, but that it was up to the district attorney.
On the subject of the blockade of Libya’s oil ports in the east by the federalist Ibrahim Jadran, which has brought Libya’s oil production crashing down from 1.5 million bpd to around 600,000 bpd, Zeidan said that he had wanted to avoid bloodshed that might result from military confrontation amongst Libyans, and that it was the GNC that had requested he took no military action.
It is noteworthy that Prime Minister Ali Zeidan chose to give an exclusive interview on the very evening when the GNC was about to carry out a vote of no confidence in him and his government.
It is also of note that that vote subsequently happened to be postponed again until today. It will, therefore, be interesting to see if Zeidan’s one hour interview has any effect on the final outcome of the vote of no confidence.
Zeidan has made only a handful of exclusive interviews with the media in his one year in office, despite numerous demands by the media.
He has had a cool relationship with the media, shunning interacting with it on a sophisticated level, and shunning demands for interviews where he is questioned deeply, preferring the once-weekly press conferences where he generally only accepts 5-7 questions, with no comebacks.
His decision to grant an exclusive, in-depth, live, one hour  interview must then be seen as significant. Zeidan also chose a Qatar-based TV channel as opposed to a locally-based TV channel, or the state-owned “official” Wataniya channel.

Misrata soldiers join troops heading to Sebha

By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 20 January 2014:
A Misratan battalion has joined Libyan Army forces heading to Sebha as part of government plans to restore order to the south of country.
Battalion 154 left Misrata this morning, according to Libyan news agency LANA. The battalion is headed for the Timanhent Air Base 30 kilometres south of Sebha, which was yesterday returned to government control.
The spokesman for the Chief of Staff office, Ali Al-Shakhi, confirmed to the Libya Herald that some Libyan armed forces had already arrived in Sebha and others were on their way. He said he was unable to put an exact figure on the number of troops which had now been sent to the town.

Angry Ajilat demands greater security support

By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 20 January 2014:
The Ajilat authorities, still smarting at the ease with which a gang last week forced its way into their headquarters and released an detained  gang-member, are demanding greater support from central government.
The head of Ajilat local council, Kamal Ammar Zayed, told the Libya Herald that the government had ordered that Ajilat should have a 600-strong joint security room. However, said Zayed, a lack of resources meant that the force was only half strength, with 150  members from the Ajilat Security Directorate, which includes former members of the  police and army, and the other 150, army soldiers from Tripoli.
Dismayed by the attack on their base by unidentified gunmen which freed the arrested man, the JSR unit’s commander Hussam Al-Tellesi was reported to have said that his force had withdrawn from duty, in protest at their lack of support from the Ministry of the Interior. There were no injuries in the assault on the JSR headquarters.
The town’s elders and shura council also reacted angrily to the appearance of three green flags of the former regime in the town on Saturday morning.  Condemning it as a “criminal act”, Ajilat’s leaders said Libyan independence flags soon flew in their place. An enquiry is under way to try and identify who put up the green flags.

South Korean trade chief kidnapped in Tripoli

By Libya Herald staff
Han Seok-woo seized early today (Photo Yonhap)
Han Seok-woo seized early today (Photo Yonhap)
Tripoli, 20 January 2014:
The local boss of the  Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) was kidnapped early this morning as he was motoring home.
Details of the abduction are scarce but it is understood that Han Seok-woo was seized from his vehicle by four gunmen.
His abduction was confirmed overnight by the South Korean foreign ministry in Seoul, which said it knew no reason for the crime and that no ransom demand had been received.

According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, Han has worked in the KOTRA office in Tripoli since 2012. Based on the 18th floor of Tripoli Tower, Han was the sole permanent Korean employee but was assisted by up to four interns sent from Korea.
According to KOTRA’s Tripoli branch website, last August the year-on-year trade volume between South Korea and Libya stood at close to $949 million, with the majority of Korean sales being motor vehicles. However South Korean contractors are already at work on major construction projects stalled by the revolution such as the completion of  Tripoli’s Marriott Hotel.
Han told a high-level environmental conference in Tripoli last June, that one of Libya’s biggest challenges was its poor infrastructure. He said that the South Koreans wanted to help build the new Libya.
“We do not do it to gain money but to find new ways of cooperating with Libya in the environment sector” he said, “Korea is involved in all sectors in Libya and we want to act as a bridge between Korean and Libyan companies” .

Sebha violence continues with no end in sight

By Jamal Adel and Taziz Hasairi.
Tripoli, 19 January 2014:
Sebha officials said that violence in the southern city continued today as Tebu gunmen fired mortars into the city in ongoing clashes with the army.
Despite media reports that violence was subsiding in Sebha, sources on the ground told the Libya Herald that fighting has remained at a constant, although no casualties were reported today.
Head of Sebha Local Council, Ayoub Al-Zaroug, told this newspaper that there had been frequent mortar fire by Tebu militants from the Jabal Arif Gate on the northern edge of the town.
Social affairs coordinator for Sebha Local Council, Zahra Ahmed Dazi, said: “The situation is much the same, no matter what the government is trying to prove, we are still going through challenging times”.
As military leaders in Sebha pledged not to negotiate with the gunmen, fighting looked set to become more entrenched. Sebha’s Military Commander, Mohammed Al-Ayat Al-Busaif, said that the army was unwilling to compromise or negotiate.
Tebu militants have been clashing with the army forces in Sebha since Friday when tribal fighting restarted following a brief truce. Yesterday, Qaddafi loyalists used the spreading instability in the region to gain a foothold at the nearby Tamenhint airbase which they relinquished this morning.
Mohammed Al-Mubasher, a member of the Zintani delegation which arrived in Sebha on Wednesday to try to broker a ceasefire, said that groups previously in Tamenhint had relocated with a large convoy to the road between Barak Shati and Sebha. He called on all revolutionaries to reassert their efforts.

Libyan army chief of staff killed in clashes with Tripoli gangs

Mohamed Karah becomes latest official to be killed in Libya, dying from a gunshot wound to the head, say security sources
Graduation Ceremony Of New Batch Of Libyan National Army In Tripoli
Members of the Libyan army parade in Tripoli on Thursday. The army's chief was killed during an offensive in the city on Sunday. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov /Barcroft Media
A chief of staff in the Libyan army has been killed in clashes with gangs south of Tripoli, according to Libyan security sources.
Mohamed Karah died on Sunday from a gunshot wound to the head, after participating in an offensive against gangs who had been stealing cars and blocking roads in the Rishfana area on the outskirts of the capital. Two others from the security forces were wounded.
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief journalists.
Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 civil war, gunmen have killed low-level government employees, activists, clerics and security officials.
In worsening security conditions, shootings of higher-ranking officials have become more common in Libya. Last week, the deputy minister of electricity was assassinated.

Airbase near Sebha back under government control without use of force

By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 19 January 2014:
The Tamenhint airbase was back under government control last night after low-flying Air Force planes prompted the Qaddafi loyalists holding the base to flee.
Contrary to a statement made on television last night by Ministry of Defence spokesman Abdulrazaq Shebahe, the Air Force did not use force during the operation, which was one of a series of sorties planned as part of a government move to restore order to the troubled south.
“No force was used and the war planes just checked the area,” an Air Force source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Libya Herald. He added that there was a possibility force would be used today, depending on how the situation developed.
The Tamenhint airbase is 30 kilometres east of Sebha.

Congress orders state of ‘high alert’ across the country

By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 18 January 2014:
At an emergency GNC sitting to discuss security in the south,  the overwhelming majority of members backed  the declaration of a nationwide High Security Alert – in effect calling for a general mobilisation of the armed forces.
Ninety-four of 102 members  today voted in favour of the alert after hearing reports that Qaddafi supporters had  seized a southern airbase. The sitting was held on the instructions of GNC president Nuri Abu Sahmain.
A pre-debate statement on security developments in their region, promised by southern congress members  did not appear. 
Congresswoman Nadia Rashid, an independent GNC member for Obari in Fezzan, told the Libya Herald that she understood the current situation to be “very, very dangerous, as there are no state forces present in the south to protect civilians from the current situation”.
She claimed that “Saadi Qaddafi in Niger and Isa Abdul Majeed are behind what is happening now in the South”. She added, “If the South is occupied, Libya will be occupied too”.
On Saturday, the Sebha military commander, Colonel Mohamed Abdel-Hafid Bousaifi, issued a call-up for all soldiers in the region.

Three soldiers die in Sarir oilfield ambush

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 18 January 2014
Three soldiers have been killed in an attack on a supply column near the Sarir oilfield .
Saleh Mohammed, commanding officer for the army’s 25th Brigade, told the Libya Herald that the three men in his brigade were ambushed while returning to the Sarir oilfield from a supply run to the nearby oasis town of Jalu. He said that the attackers were from that area. He added that his unit had come under fire on other occasions from the same group.
Mohammed speculated that the gunmen could have been the same as those who had attacked the Sarir farm in a raid in late December.
The Sarir has been a lightning-rod for recent tensions in Kufra and its surrounding areas. A dawn raid by gunman on a Sarir farm project in late December saw one manager kidnapped and at least five attackers killed. Tebu demonstrators who had blockaded the Sarir oilfield in November, demanding greater minority recognition, only quit last week.
The National Army’s 25th Brigade is composed largely of Tebu troops. Among its responsibilities  since April 2011 have been security at the Sarir and Messla oil fields oilfield as well as  the Al-Shula oil compound.

Masked gunmen attack Benghazi’s 147 Battalion

By Noora Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 18 January 2014:
Militants attempting to storm the barracks of the 147th  Battalion in Benghazi in a raid  apparently targeting the garrison’s armoury. have been beaten off by troops.
Gunmen in four white 4×4 Toyota pickups yesterday tried to force their way into the unit’s base in Ras Al-Mingar. Their aim seems to have been to seize weapons and ammunition.
However the attackers, who had covered their faces with scarves and masks, were driven back by guards.  No deaths or injuries were reported in the exchanges of fire. It is not clear if any of the attackers were captured.
Two soldiers were murdered in their sleep last October when the Ras Al-Mingar base was attacked.

GNC is coerced and laws passed are legally unsound – Zeidan

By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 18 January 2014:
Speaking at last Tuesday’s press conference on Libya’s current political impasse, Zeidan, admitted that the GNC is coerced by the threat of force into passing, or not passing, certain laws.
Zeidan, with a certain hint of irony, also indirectly admitted that his continued presence as head of the executive is due largely to the Transitional Constitutional Declaration (TCD) of August 2011.
The TCD is the current political roadmap or social contract between the Libyan citizens and their ruling class.
Zeidan admitted, in his very own somewhat difficult to comprehend style where he speaks in incomplete sentences requiring the listener to join the dots, admitted that “Many of the things that were arranged in the (Transitional) Constitutional Declaration created an imbalance in the institutions of the state”.
“I am not accusing anyone of their (poor) efforts in the early stage of the revolution (referring to the authors of the TCD). These efforts perhaps did not include the (necessary) arrangements (or legal procedures within the TCD) such as the issue of the need of 120 (members for a quorum) or 134 votes”.
Zeidan was referring to the number of votes and quorum needed to pass certain measures such as the appointment or vote of no confidence in a Prime Minister or budgetary issues. “I hope a solution is reached resolving the problems facing the government”, he added.
The hint of irony in what Prime Minister Zeidan was saying was that Zeidan was probably intending to gently chide the GNC for its poor performance and slow progress in passing measures, and especially measures such as budgetary acts that require 120 votes. However, it is this very constitutional requirement of a quorum and 120 votes that is keeping Zeidan in power.
The problems that the government is facing that Zeidan was referring to, include GNC approval of a Ministerial reshuffle, including appointing a Minister of Interior which has been vacant for months, as well as allowing the government to spend money already assigned to one chapter within the budget on other areas such as wages.
This budgetary problem has of course been caused by the shortfall in state revenues due to the Ibrahim Jadran oil ports blockade in eastern Libya.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, Zeidan, the head of the executive, went on to engage in further public chiding of the GNC, his political masters and the body that elected him and could any day remove him.
“The Congress is also suffering from problems related to attendance. Members are threatened and are forced to vote on resolutions they do not want”, before quickly attributing the statement to GNC members by adding “according to some members”.
Zeidan then goes on to openly and plainly raise doubts on the legality of some GNC laws, the most obvious of which is the Political Isolation Law, by saying that this reported coercion on members “impairs the legality of the decisions taken by the state”.
Zeidan then goes on to appeal for support for the GNC, saying that “all must accept or take their responsibilities in supporting the GNC to reach its goal”.
One possible explanation for Zeidan’s public attack of the GNC could be to deflect some of the criticism he is currently receiving while a vote of no confidence in him is being discussed.
The GNC has been under pressure now for months through peaceful and sometimes not so peaceful demonstrators and blockaders in an attempt to end both its and the government’s term in power.
“Everyone should know”, the Prime Minister continued, “that the possible (that the government can achieve in a transitional stage and short period of time) is limited, whatever capabilities the government uses at this time, due to the unfavorable circumstances”, the Prime Minister explained.
“We should all cooperate through dialogue, understanding and good appreciation. The government is not saying this in order to continue (in power)”, he assured, but quickly added “and if we are given an opportunity (to continue in power) we will be thankful for this, but we cannot leave the country in a state of vacuum”, he concluded, stating his ultimate and repeated justification for refusing to give up office.
Meanwhile, the undecided and disunited GNC continues into a third week to chew over a vote of no confidence in the committee rooms and corridors, unable to find a compromise that would take the motion to the voting floor.

Zeidan calls on revolutionaries to rally to the south as airbase seized by pro-Qaddafi forces

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 18 January 2014:
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has called on all revolutionary forces to rally to the south saying that Tamenhint airbase 30 kilometres east of Sebha has been seized by pro-Qaddafi troops as clashes in the southern city destabilise the wider region.
The Prime Minister said he had asked Defence Minister, Abdullah Al-Thinni, to travel to Misrata to coordinate with the city’s military council and Libya Shield Brigades to marshall their forces in an effort to restore security to the south. He called on revolutionaries from all walks of Libya to travel to the south to protect the revolution by all means available.
Saleh Al-Shaikhi, spokesman for Chief of Staff of the Military told the Libya Herald that the Libyan Air Force is now planning sorties over Sebha and surrounding areas to restore order.
This morning, Sebha’s Military commander issued orders instructing all military personnel within the area to report for duty as unconfirmed reports surfaced that troops from Zintan are already on their way to Sebha to quell fighting there.
Reports form Sebha have confirmed that pro-Qaddafi forces seized control of Tamenhenta airbase late last night. Ayoub Al-Zaroug, head of Sebha Local Council, told this newspaper that the base had been taken by Qaddafi supporters coming from a number of towns and villages across southern regions.
Mohammed Al-Mubasher, who is part of the Zintani delegation which arrived in Sebha to broker a ceasefire there on Wednesday, said that the forces at Tamenhint had used the current security vacuum in the region to advance their goals.
Clashes broke out in Sebha last night as an uneasy truce that had held since Wednesday between Tebu tribesmen and Awlad Suleiman members collapsed. Dr Ibrahim Zway, director of Sebha Medical Centre said this morning that two people had been killed and two others injured as a result of renewed violence in the city.
The government has said it will continue to monitor developments in Sebha with an emergency sitting of Congress planned for this evening to discuss the security situation in the south.

Weakened Prime Minister Ali Zeidan admits army ignores him

By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 17 January 2014:
Revealing some of the internal divisions that exist between the government, the GNC and the Chief of Staff, and that are contributing to the ineffectiveness of the new Libyan state and the current political paralyses, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan admitted during Tuesday’s press conference that the Chief of Staff was refusing to take orders from him or send troops to the recent hotspot of Sebha .
It is by all accounts an astonishing admission by the head of the executive that he has no power to call on the army in times of security crises.
Zeidan admitted that there was a problem between the government and the Ministry of Defence. “The Chief of Staff is appointed by the GNC, and the Minister of Defence is appointed by the government”, the Prime Minister explained.
Moreover, he continued, “the Chief of Staff has the understanding that the government does not have the right in issuing him with instructions. We have discussed this with the GNC Defence Committee”, he explained.
Moreover, Zeidan, revealing the depth and seriousness of the dysfunctionality between his government and the GNC, frankly admitted that “even in sending troops to the south we faced problems”.
Zeidan was referring to the recent shooting spree in Sebha and the inter-ethnic conflict leading to tens of wounded and killed. Mediators from the Western regions of Libya were needed to bring calm to the city.
“This situation does not help the country because it is not in the interest of the government”, Zeidan went on to warn. “To delay anything in Libya whatever the period of delay, will be harmful. I hope all the concerned parties will reach an understanding so as to avoid the current problems”, he said appealing to and for a solution from the GNC.
The revelation could be indicative of the increased strained relations between the current Ali Zeidan government and the GNC, a strain that could prove costly to the fragile security situation in Libya.
It could also be a revelation of the internal power struggles within the GNC, which is still currently considering a vote of no confidence in the increasingly ineffective Zeidan government.

Sebha truce collapses as fighting breaks out

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 17 January 2014:
A local Sebha official has said the tentative truce brokered between Tebu and Awlad Sulieman forces in Sebha on Wednesday has collapsed. As shots are reported on the ground, another wave of deadly clashes in the embattled southern city area is reported as inevitable.
Zahra Ahmed Dazi, Social Affairs Coordinator for Sebha Local Council, told the Libya Herald that there was now frequent artillery and small arms fire in Sebha, adding that she expected further escalation in the coming hours.
A makeshift ceasefire was negotiated in the city on Wednesday by a Zintani delegation headed by former Defence Minister Osama Juwaili. The truce brought an end to nearly five days and six nights of fighting which left 31 dead and 65 wounded.
Violence initially erupted in Sebha a week ago today as tribal and racial tensions between Tebu tribesmen and Awlad Sulieman members erupted over the murder of one of the city’s revolutionary commanders, Mansour Al-Aswad, by Tebu gunmen in Traghen.
Aswad’s killing was seen as an act of retribution for some of the the worst post-revolution violence seen in Sebha when in three says March 2012 some 40 Tebus and 30 members of the Arab Awlad Sulieman tribe were killed.
The security situation in Sebha has been increasingly fragile in recent months with a string small-scale clashes including an attack on the city’s central hospital. At the end of December, Sebha Local Council was forced to suspend work because of the situation.

Zeidan threatens to use force, again. Says police are “terrorized” by militias.

By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 17 January 2014:
Commenting during Tuesday’s (14 January) press conference on the assassination the previous Sunday of the Deputy Minister of Industry in Sirte, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said that “the assassination has a clear message to all Libyans who do not appreciate the nature of the stage in which Libya finds itself in – a stage of challenge.
Libya after the revolution and after the end (collapse) of the state and the army and police is in a state of real exhaustion.”
“We have not been able to succeed at all until now in the matter of security”, he admitted. “Assassinations and bombings are still continuing”, he added. However, he blamed this squarely on the stage in which Libya finds itself in.
This blame “goes back to the revolution and to the proliferation of weapons and explosives everywhere. Those who cannot deal with or handle these weapons with responsibility are creating illegal killing machines everywhere. I do not think that there is legal justification except by legal order”.
“The public must be aware of this dangerous stage Libya is in. A stage that will have long term effects on the present and on the future of the nation. What is needed now is the restrain in the use of weapons and the prevention of its use and warning to all who want to create insecurity “.
Explaining his government’s efforts to improve security and the steps that they had taken, Zeidan revealed that his government attempted to train 20,000 in the police force, and that the head of police training had told him that they were trained and stationed in their locations but that “when we called upon them, we could not find them”.
Moreover, getting to the crux of the cause of the weakness or unwillingness of the police to remain at their posts and turn out to work, Zeidan  said that the police have “a stick or at best a pistol or a rifle and when they face a thuwar/militiaman, they, the militias, are not (so lightly armed)”.
Frankly admitting the weakness of the state and the terrorizing stranglehold by the militias on the state, Zeidan went on to explain that the police “are terrorized with RPGs and the 14.5mm  and the 23.5 mm (guns) and are unable to confront the situation”.
Zeidan added that he did not “envisage taking the route of bloodshed” to achieving government policy and building the state, but that this situation (of non-confrontation and non-use of force as a deterrent) is not going to continue. He added that there “may have to be bloodshed in order to preserve security”.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has threatened the use of force on numerous occasions in the past. He had threatened it in August against oil strikers, and he had threatened it in July, to give just two examples.
However, in reality, he has never used it. He has failed to use force as a deterrent against the thuwar/militias, demonstrators at Ministerial buildings, blockades and sieges of either the GNC or his Prime Minister’s office, oil terminals, oil fields, roads, telecoms buildings, Tripoli port and the Central Bank of Libya, to name a few.
What is not clear is whether Zeidan has ever wanted to use force but was unable to or was prevented from doing so by the GNC. It is also not clear if in reality the regular Libyan state security forces are too weak to confront the various opponents.
What is clear, is that the constant threat to use force and the subsequent failure to use it loses the government and Zeidan credibility and enhances the perception that he and his government are indeed weak.
Indeed, it could be argued that the constant failure to use force, following the threat of its use is probably worse than not having issued the threat in the first place.
This perception of weakness of the Zeidan government serves only to strengthen the Libyan government’s opponents and gives them further courage to embark on actions against the state, in the full knowledge that they will suffer no consequences.
In view of this, it is questionable whether Ibrahim Jadran and his followers blockading Libya’s oil ports or any other forces confronting the government and the GNC are taking any notice of Zeidan’s threat of use of force.

Sack Zeidan or take blame for Libya’s woes, Muslim Brotherhood tells Congress

By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 16 January 2014:
The Muslim Brotherhood of Libya has said that Congress must vote to remove Ali Zeidan and his government. If it refuses to do so, it said in a statement dated 13 January but just published, then the Brotherhood “places full responsibility for the appalling political, security, economic and social situation in the country on all General National Congress members and on all political blocks dominating Congress”. 
The statement also said that the blockade of oilfields and terminals could “no longer be tolerated”. However, it did not suggest how this could be achieved other than saying that Libyan tribes, local councils, civil society organisations and others had to work together to finding a way to put an end to the situation.  
Such groups, as well as Congress members and the government, have in fact been doing precisely that for several months, but without success, largely because of the wish to avoid bloodshed.
Pointing to the chaotic security situation, the Brotherhood statement condemned last week’s violence in Sebha in which 31 people died and 65 were injured, as well as the assassination in Sirte last Saturday of Deputy Industry Minister Hassan Al-Daroue. It accused the government of making no comment about Daroue’s killing although both the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni flew to Sirte to offer their condolences to the murdered minister’s family.  
Calling on Libyans to unite and pursue national dialogue so that the process of rebuilding the country could restart, the Brotherhood said that Daroue’s death had made it all the more determined to “stand by the principals and goals of the revolution”.
The statement also suggested that Libya’s present crisis was the result of foreign interference. Libya was now so weak that, it said, it had became “an easy target for foreign forces and foreign agendas”. The clashes in the south, too, were said to be linked to “foreign agendas that try to take advantage of the situation and cause incitement between the people of the homeland”.
There was, however, no indication as to who these “foreign forces” might be. Nor was it clear if the accusation was deliberately timed to coincide with the Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, known to be opposed to the Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood has itself been accused of being supported by foreign governments, an accusation it has firmly denied