Africa Libya

After Liberation from ISIS, Security in Sirte is Breaking Down

ISIS IN ACTION

Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces reportedly discovered the remains of 90 bodies 45 km south west of Sirte, apparently killed by the US airstrikes launched against ISIS cells on 19 January as a parting move by the Obama administration. The BM fighters reportedly captured two ‘terrorist’ suspects and killed four during the operation. Underground stores and camouflaged hideouts were also discovered.

Sirte is increasingly witnessing a breakdown of security due to widespread looting, burglary and theft of power cables in the city. On 26 January, tribal elders in Sirte accused BM forces (who led the operation against ISIS in the city) of looting the town and seizing local properties. They claim some BM units prevented Sirte residents from returning home by blocking the town’s entrance with sand barriers. The tribal elders also accused BM militias of plundering power cables from the 700 Residence areas to be shipped abroad via Misrata port.

WESTERN RESPONSE

On 30 January, Turkey reopened its embassy in Tripoli. It was the second country to do so since 2014 – Italy was the first three weeks ago. UN Envoy Martin Kobler was one of the first visitors to the reopened Turkish embassy. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the preparations to reopen had been made by Turkey’s ambassador to Libya, Ahmet Aydin Dogan, who was previously based in Tunis. The statement said the embassy would initially operate with reduced staff. It added that the reopening would “allow Turkey to make stronger contributions to efforts to build peace and stability, as well as reconstruction in Libya,” and noted that the Turkish consulate general in Misrata had remained open without interruption. The ministry said it would “support the territorial integrity and national unity of brotherly Libya, as well as steps to be taken on the basis of the Libyan Political Agreement towards peace and reconciliation”.

On 25 January, Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj publically disclosed he is willing to meet with Khalifa Haftar directly. There are rumors that there is a meeting planned between them later this week, brokered by Egypt. Tunisian, Egyptian and Algerian diplomats are largely facilitating the new round of diplomacy while the role of UN Envoy Martin Kobler appears to be diminishing.

Libya-Analysis is the most read independent English-language blog on Libyan affairs. It is run by Jason Pack, founder of EyeOnISISinLibya.com and researcher of World History at Cambridge University

This article was republished with explicit permission from the author.