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  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 19,131     71
     
GNI per capita
 US $ n/a n/a
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 115 - (26/10/13)

Summary: In eastern Cyrenaica, in the city of Ajdabiya, an enigmatic leader at the head of a 17,000 men strong militia, Ibrahim al- Jathran (who became familiar with Qadhafi’s prisons, and who led a battalion of rebels against the Colonel) was 'rewarded ' with the command of armed security guards at Libyan oil terminals (petroleum Defense guards). Jathran has already wielded his power blocking the two main terminal for oil export, demanding independence. Jathran, said the Wall Street Journal has cost Libya more than five billion dollars in lost revenue over the past three months. Jathran , joined the ' Transitional Council of Cyrenaica' as a stepping stone to politics. He has been accused of having ties to jihadists and many call him a 'warlord’. He has inspired others through his warning that Libya has become another Afghanistan or Somalia. He has also hired ‘consultants to hone a policy ‘, set up a satellite TV channel, and of course remained in control of the self-defense of Cyrenaica force. This force is said to bring together former units of the central government and armed men in the region that extends from Sirte to Benghazi. In all, Jathran controls 17,500 are men, who are paid as a much as 1,200 dinars per month (about USD 950) – no word on where the funds come from. Jathran has money and men and could become a real threat to the current Libyan government; could he also be the one with the best solutions?

Chaos Reigns Supreme
The kidnapping of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in early October, while brief, has only confirmed the instability and lawlessness that persists in Libya two years after Muammar al-Qadhafi’s demise. The episode has also demonstrated the extent to which the various militias in that have taken over control – the actual power in Libya today – since the fall of the ‘Brother Leader. Qadhafi was shrewder than his antics and flamboyant robes suggested; he purposely prevented institutions from developing in such a way as to prevent any form of alternative political process from emerging, while promoting tribal competition. This has produced an inevitable scenario of total instability. The added ‘bonus’ has come from the sudden and massive presence of weapons, which has also fed conflicts beyond Libyan borders from Mali, to Egypt and Syria. This scenario has complicated further by a growing international indifference as the West has become focused on Syrian crisis and the quest for an agreement with Iran, which would necessary some form of understanding to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program.

In the early hours of October 10, strange men forced Prime Minister Zeidan was to follow them out of the Corinthia Hotel – which has been serving as the PM’s official residence – through the Supreme Security Committee, parallel to the regular Army created from the remains of some revolutionary brigades, who happen to have been financed and armed by the government itself. Zeidan was rather muted about his imprisonment or the identity of his captors, prompting rumors that some institutions or other political forces in the country were involved in a plot to depose Zeidan -perhaps over the previous weekend’s American use of Special Forces to arrest al-Qaeda leader Abu Anas al –Libi? This character, originally going by the name of Nazih Abdul Hamed al Ruqai, was blamed for masterminding attacks against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar-e-Salaam in 1998, the first major al Qaeda outrage prior to attacking USS Cole and 9/11 itself.

Al-Libi’s capture has caused a tightening of diplomatic relations between Libya and the United States and the Libyan General Congress had demanded his immediate return; for the time being he remains in US custody and has appeared before a judge in New York. PM Zeidan, for his part summoned the U.S. ambassador in Tripoli, Deborah Jones, for "clarification" on October 8, trying to affirm some kind of authority and that "Libyans must be tried in their own country”. However, US officials said that they had obtained tacit approval by the Libyan government – after all, had Libyan ‘authorities’ captured al-Libi, it would have generated a far ‘hotter potato’ for Zeidan, considering the government’s utter inability to deal with the various militias that continue to wield the real power in the country. Of course, Libyan militant groups have called for retaliation against Western strategic objectives, announcing their intentions to kidnap foreign citizens in Libya in retaliation – and President Obama has decided to send about 200 Marines to the Sicilian base of Sigonella, just in case.

The context of the kidnapping sheds further light on the precarious Libyan government. On October 7, dozens of unarmed Libyan – official - soldiers had occupied the office of Prime Minister in Tripoli to protest the "non-payment of wages”. Ali Zeidan was not present at the time of the ‘visit’ because he was traveling to Morocco; however, the episode fully demonstrates the institutional weakness that like a circular argument, feeds itself. The militias have blocked much of Libya’s oil shipments, causing a sharp drop in revenue for the government, which seems no longer able to ensure payment of salaries. This is the kind of problem that one would expect in a Sub-Saharan country such as Guinea Conakry – where soldiers protesting over non-payment of wages is a common phenomenon – rather than what was one of Africa’s richest countries until just a few years ago. In turn, the militias gain in appeal, because they seem to be able to guarantee some form of compensation, and power, to their members.

The militias use the power to extort and blackmail. Last April, for nearly two weeks, groups of ex - rebels besieged the offices of the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs of Tripoli by invoking the approval of the "Law on the political insulation" aimed at excluding officials (in real terms the country’s Civil Service), who worked for Muammar Gaddafi in the past ten years from holding political office. Effectively, this deprived the Libyan government of some of the most experienced technocrats – further weakening the State.

Nevertheless, the Libyan government, at the mercy of militias and unable to exercise control even in the capital Tripoli, has somehow managed to express interest in buying several Boeing Chinook transport helicopters, presumably, given this aircraft’s role, to improve the Libyan army’s mobility. Before the anti-Qadhafi revolt, the Libyan air force purchased eight Chinook CH- 47C built in Italy through the Libyan Italian Advanced Technology Company, a joint venture between the Libyan state industry and the Italian Finmeccanica. Jane’s Defense believes that only one of the previously acquired Chinooks remains in operation. While the helicopters could help the authorities extend the scope of what is left of the Libyan armed forces, the precarious stability of the country makes the timing of the decision to buy complex equipment rather unusual, if not inexplicable. Ironically, weapons that Qadhafi had ordered and paid for, from Russia have started to be delivered, including Khrizantema 9P157 -S anti-tank combat vehicles. These could prove rather handy – if captured by the rebels.

The Libyan situation is ever more reminiscent of Somalia and certainly of the former Yugoslavia. The end of a dictatorship always carries within it the seeds of territorial disintegration, especially in cases where tyranny is used to keep a country of different tribal, ethnic and interest groups together. It seems, then, that Qadhafi’s infamous eccentricities and seemingly strange decisions were the tools; he used to help maintain stability. Without the iron fist of Muammar al-Qadhafi, Libya has fallen prey to the separatist tendencies of the various regions that comprise the nation, since the first attempt at unity made by the Italian colonizers in the 1920’s. After the brewing troubles in Cyrenaica, the southwestern Fezzan region has unilaterally proclaimed its independence. Local tribes in the South have decided to separate because of the "weakness of General National Congress and their lack of answers to the demands of the Libyan people of Fezzan”. Tribal leaders have appointed Mohammad Nouri al- Qouizi as president of the province and announced that they would follow up by appointing regional military leaders in order to ensure the security of their border and their natural resources, which of course refers to the many millions of oil barrels hiding under the Sahara. No doubt, this will prompt the central government in Tripoli to take some kind of action, perhaps using some of its new weapon systems – and ironically forcing it to act in a way that is rather reminiscent of the old dictatorship.

Last June, Cyrenaica proclaimed independence from Tripoli, on the commemoration of the birth of the Emirate of Cyrenaica, which lasted from 1949 to 1951. In Benghazi, the capital, al- Ahmed al- Senoussi Zoubair, cousin of King Idris, whom Qadhafi deposed in 1969 and currently leader of the Transitional Council of Cyrenaica led the independence movement. Al-Senoussi has also announced plans to restore the Constitution of 1951, which established a clear separation of powers between the two regions.

But Benghazi had aspirations for autonomy (Senoussi’s separation is more federal than total). Nonetheless, the Fezzan independence movement appears stronger than ever, and the reference to ‘locking’ natural resources is a sign of the tool through which the desert region intends to blackmail Tripoli. This suggests that Fezzan intentions have been inspired by the northern militias, to blackmail Tripoli and use oil as a bargaining chip to obtain more privileges, or to actually manage oil independently – Kurdistan style – of the central government.

Similarly, in eastern Cyrenaica, in the city of Ajdabiya, an enigmatic leader at the head of a 17,000 men strong militia, Ibrahim al- Jathran (who became familiar with Qadhafi’s prisons, and who led a battalion of rebels against the Colonel) was 'rewarded ' with the command of armed security guards at Libyan oil terminals (petroleum Defence guards). Jathran has already wielded his power blocking the two main terminals for oil export, demanding independence!

Jathran, said the Wall Street Journal has cost Libya more than five billion dollars in lost revenue over the past three months. He, joined the ' Transitional Council of Cyrenaica' as a stepping stone to politics. Jathran has been accused of having ties to jihadists and many call him a 'warlord’. He has inspired others through his warning that Libya has become another Afghanistan or Somalia. He has also hired ‘consultants to hone a policy ‘, set up a satellite TV channel, and of course remains in control of Cyrenaica’s self-defence force. This force is said to bring together former units of the central government and armed men in the region that extends from Sirte to Benghazi. In all, Jathran controls 17,500 men, who are paid as a much as 1,200 dinars per month (about USD 950) – no word on where the funds come from. Jathran has money and men and could become a real threat to the current Libyan government; could he also be the one with the best solutions?
 

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