Thursday, 30 June 2011

Libya: Security of foreign personnel and assets

It is apparent that foreign involvement in Libya will be vital once fighting has finished, or the military fronts have been pushed back from the oil field regions. It may be that some attempts may be made to restore the oil fields before any formal arrangement of peace is agreed as both sides, but especially the rebels, require more reliable sources of oil for export. Whether civilian contractors will be used in this work is uncertain, though it is clear that indigenous resources in Libya, and both spare parts and personnel, are inadequate to make a quick and effective turn-round of the situation.

Fighting persists in the northwest which is now virtually a war zone. Otherwise, clashes are in predictable sites such as the Sirte coastal region and some of the isolated oases of eastern Libya. There is now a stronger sense of insecurity than formerly, as the rebels arm themselves and begin limited but very public strikes against the authorities.

The civilian administrations on both sides of the fighting line are weak and, in most cases, have had their security people either driven out or converted to one cause or the other. It would be difficult for Western interest to be engaged on the ground in such uncertain conditions and British FCO advice is apposite.

Visiting the country should only be done with the utmost care and preparation. Signs of peace by way of a negotiated settlement are few. The crumb of comfort is found in indications that Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi would be prepared to leave the country in certain circumstances as a move to an end to the fighting.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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