February 21, 2011

TSG IntelBrief: Libya, The Winds of Change?


Executive Summary: The tide of unrest that is rolling seemingly unstoppably across the Middle East and North Africa is on the point of engulfing Libya.  There is a very real risk that the country will fracture down the faultline of hatred of the regime by the average Libyan, who has seen extraordinary changes in extraordinary times.

This weekend localised vicious street battles in Benghazi against police, army and hired mercenaries have escalated rapidly and migrated across country into a very real threat to the rule of Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi, (Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya).

In Tunisia and Egypt the intifadas were broadly secular, despite much irrelevant scaremongering about the Muslim Brotherhood's potential involvement in Egyptian politics.  That is not the case in Libya where there appears to be more direct involvement by Islamic extremist groups -- in particular the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

The political situation is rapidly deteriorating: the UK and US governments are recommending against all but essential travel, and the US has authorised the withdrawal of diplomatic personnel.

The economic sector looks set to be hit by the uprising: the oil industry faces considerable disruption, and pipelines face attack by armed tribesmen.  A South Korean firm in Tripoli was attacked today, leaving eighteen injured, some seriously.

Things are going to get worse before they start getting better.


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