The reported withdrawal of the al Amu militia from Sabratha this weekend could be a pivotal moment in Libya. Sabratha has been one of the 3 ISIS footholds in Libya and is the main launching area for illegal migrants attempting to enter Europe. There is much to play for because it controls the main route between Tripoli and Tunisia and sits next to the Zawiyah Oil Refinery.
It is claimed the ousting force is connected to General Haftar’s Libyan National Army. Will this be the start of the LNA’s advance across Tripolitania, or will there be an Islamist backlash this week?
Our examination of Sabratha and the western coastal towns in 2011 is covered in Chapter 6 of Belfast to Benghazi.
This week I am updating audiences at the War and Peace Festival in Kent about the latest situation in Libya.
What has happened to the family of the Manchester bomber? What are the challenges facing the new Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya? Will Russia and Putin fill the vacuum left by the West when they pulled out of the country? How important is General Haftar? How big a threat is ISIS? How do we solve the migration crisis, given the perceived failings of Operation Sophia.
Afriqiyah Airways have re-started flights to and from Benghazi’s main airport and launched services to Zintan and Mitiga in the past few days. This is another sign of light at the end of the security tunnel and economic opportunity in Libya.
In 2011, Special Forces destroyed Gadhafi’s Sukhoi interceptor and ground attack aircraft at Benina, which saved many lives. See chapter 6 of Belfast to Benghazi.
Tripoli International has received its first flight since the wanton destruction in 2014 closed the airport.
Several Libyan militias have controlled this important prize since Moqtar al-Aktar captured it during the revolution. Now the Presidential Guard has secured it for the recognised government, the next step is for international aircraft to return, which would be a significant indicator of progress.
See page 254 of Belfast to Benghazi to read about my first visit to the airport soon after it was captured by the Zintan Brigade in 2011.