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Libya - Executive summary 2006

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Libya - Executive summary 2006

  1. 1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY, Libya Date Posted: 06-Jan-2006 Janes Sentinel Security Assessment - North Africa EXECUTIVE SUMMARYRISK POINTERS TOPNational Overview TOPWith a dominant position in the central Mediterranean and larger proven oil reservesthan any state in Africa or Europe, the Socialist Peoples Libyan Arab Jamahiriya hasachieved an importance in Arab, African and Southern European security affairs out ofall proportion to its tiny population and technical capacity. Since 1969, when politicalpower was seized from the monarchy by a group of young officers led by ColonelMuammar Ghadaffi, Libya has styled itself as a revolutionary Arab state. In the 1980s,the most notorious element of Ghadaffis anti-imperialist ideology was his support forradical liberation movements against Western powers. Relations with the West reachedtheir nadir in April 1986 when the US launched air strikes against Libyan cities inretaliation for alleged Libyan support for terrorist attacks against its forces in Europe.Libyan impotence against such action led Ghadaffi to undertake a major covertunconventional weapons and ballistic missile development programme. UN sanctionswere imposed in 1992, relating to the 1988/89 terrorist bombing of US and French civilairliners. Since the late 1990s Libya has attempted to improve its international imageand has ceased its support for anti-Western terrorist groups, although concerns remainover links to several African insurgent groups. While the US continues to designateLibya a state sponsor of terrorism and subject it to unilateral arms and technologyembargoes, the UN suspended its sanctions in April 1999 and repealed them inSeptember 2003, leading to a surge in European investment interest in the country. Inlate December 2003, Libya publicly disclosed its unconventional weapons programmeand agreed to its monitoring and the disposal of all equipment and munitions under UN,US and UK supervision. Major re-investment by US oil firms in early 2005 appeared tobe the final stage in Libyas re-orientation from rogue state to strategic andcommercial partner in the war on terrorism.Diplomacy and Foreign Policy TOPWhile Libya has broadly achieved its foreign policy goal of the last decade - to restorediplomatic and commercial relations with Western states - Ghadaffi has not renouncedhis anti-imperial activism and is sufficiently distrusted that he will remain indefinitelyon a good behaviour bond with these states pending eventual transition to a moreconventional regime. For example, while Washington had repealed all remainingunilateral non-military sanctions by December 2005 it has maintained Libyas positionas a "state sponsor of terrorism" although it does not appear to have made it clear toTripoli what it is expected to do to resolve the issue. In response to this latent instability,Ghadaffi regularly shuffles a strong reserve hand of diplomatic and economic contactsThis page was saved from http://search.janes.com Did you know Janes Strategic Advisory Services can provide impartial, thoroughly researched market evaluation, providing© Janes Information Group, All rights reserved you with the same reliable insight you expect to find in our publications and online services?
  2. 2. with Maghrebian, African and Asian states. Keen to play a statesman role in Africa andcourt the support of many poor and weak states, he has placed his diplomatic capital ofSirte at the disposal of the African Union and publicly played the role of peacemaker inseveral African conflicts, most recently in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.Simultaneously, he is accused of playing a covert destabilising role in numerous Northand West African countries in order to install pro-Tripoli regimes or to prevent existingleaders aligning against him. Mauritania, in August 2004, was the latest of at least adozen African states to allege Libyan attempts to destabilise or overthrow itsgovernment. At the same time, Libyas relations with the Arab world continue to besomewhat problematic. Many Arab states and populations viewed Ghadaffisabandoning of WMD as a sop to the West and Libya has received much negative pressin the Arab region for this move. Relations with Saudi Arabia have become particularlystrained following Saudi allegations in 2004 that Ghadaffi was behind a plot toassassinate the Crown Prince. However, by the end of 2005 these appeared to be on themend.Domestic Difficulties TOPGhadaffi is facing numerous problems at home as the population becomes increasinglyfrustrated by ongoing socio-economic problems. These include an unemployment rate of 30per cent and the burden of a state sector that employs 700,000 people, around 13 per cent ofLibyas population. State sector wages have not increased since the early 1980s and as pricescontinue to rise the population is becoming increasingly restless as they are being forced totake on additional jobs or find alternative ways of making money in order to survive. In thepast, Ghadaffi was able to blame Libyas economic woes on the UN sanctions and the US.However, this excuse is no longer valid and the regime has to find a way to manage thepotential for increased social unrest. Despite repeated assertions by the regime that it intendsto regenerate the economy in order to create jobs in the private sector, it appears that for thetime being it is continuing to rely on security measures as a means of keeping the populationin line. Although high international oil prices and new investment since 1999 have inflatedgovernment revenues in recent years, the benefits are not filtering down to the majority of thepopulation. Moreover, because Ghadaffi has built up a highly developed system of patronageover the years, corruption and nepotism are endemic. US and European officials say thatLibya still owes hundreds of millions of dollars to European creditors, whose accounts werefrozen when UN sanctions were imposed in 1992, and meeting reparations commitments forterrorist actions in the 1980s are likely to cost Libya in excess of USD3 billion. These factorswill hamper economic development and increase tensions throughout the country.Islamist Threat TOPThe Ghadaffi regime has had problems with Islamist militants in the past. This datesback to the 1980s, but came to the fore in the mid 1990s when a number of extremistgroups began to emerge. There was a series of clashes between security forces andIslamic militants around Benghazi in 1996 and to a lesser extent in 1997. Many of theattacks were claimed by the Fighting Islamic Group of Libya (FIGL) that was set up bya group of veterans of the war in Afghanistan in 1990. Major counter-insurgencyoperations were launched in the east of the country under the guise of military exercisesor anti-crime operations and suppressed the insurgency in concert with a vigorousintelligence operation against dissidents. However, some remnants of these militants arestill active in the mountains in the east of the country, although they are thought toThis page was saved from http://search.janes.com Did you know Janes Strategic Advisory Services can provide impartial, thoroughly researched market evaluation, providing© Janes Information Group, All rights reserved you with the same reliable insight you expect to find in our publications and online services?
  3. 3. consist of a few pockets of individual jihadists who are not linked to any particularorganisation or group. It also appears that a number of Libyans have joined the jihad inIraq. Despite this, the regime remains vigilant against any potential Islamist opponentsand as such these elements cannot be considered to pose a real threat to the security ofthe regime for the time being. Illegal Immigration TOPIllegal migration from sub-Saharan Africa has been of increasing concern to Libya andits northern Mediterranean neighbours in the 21st century, with negative implicationsfor internal and external stability. Libya is both the richest country in Africa north ofthe equator and one of the closest to the illegal labour markets of the European Union.Per capita income in Libya is estimated to be around 20 times higher than in theadjacent states of the Sahel, making its southern desert frontiers one of the sharpesteconomic divides in the world. Because of its enormous and empty extent, it is also oneof the easiest countries for illegal migrants to transit, a problem exacerbated in the late1990s as Ghadaffi sought to strengthen his position in Africa by providing incomes tomigrant southern workers. A violent xenophobic backlash by unemployed LibyanArabs in coastal towns in 2000 led to attempts to reverse this policy and tarnishedTripolis positive image with some African states. Conversely, Libya has subsequentlybeen able to play the situation to its advantage, claiming it was incapable of stemmingthe flow of African migrants from its shores to Italy unless the EU allowed it to buy newparamilitary equipment. This resulted in the lifting of a number of EU sanctions in2004. Along with safeguarding oil and gas supplies, deterring illegal migration is centralto EU policy towards North Africa. Ghadaffi and the Succession TOPAfter 36 years of charismatic personal leadership, the Libyan Jamahiriya is unimaginablewithout the central figure of Muammar Ghadaffi. Despite his apparently erratic approach topolicy and lack of constitutional authority, the "Brother Leader" must be seen as aprerequisite for Libyan stability in the medium term. Within Libya there are strongsuggestions that Ghadaffi is preparing his son, Saif el-Islam, to succeed him. Despite repeateddenials that he is earmarked as heir, Western educated Saif el-Islam has succeeded inconsolidating his position in Libyas reformist political and economic circles and played amajor role in representing the public face of the regime to the international media. However,he remains deeply unpopular at home, including within some of the regimes more reformistfactions, which view him as inexperienced and immature. He also has extremely limitedinfluence within the all-powerful security services. In the absence of his father, it is uncertainwhether Saif el-Islam would have the skill, maturity or authority to control Libyas complexfactions and increasingly resentful population. However, having seized power at the age of27, Muammar Ghadaffi is still not an old man and, short of an assassination, there is noreason to believe that he will cease to lead the country and its esoteric revolution in the nearfuture. Regional Military Balance TOP Defence TOP· Despite its small population and available manpower, Libya has attempted to maintainThis page was saved from http://search.janes.com Did you know Janes Strategic Advisory Services can provide impartial, thoroughly researched market evaluation, providing© Janes Information Group, All rights reserved you with the same reliable insight you expect to find in our publications and online services?
  4. 4. armed forces of comparable strength to its much larger neighbour Algeria. The capability of these forces has been largely untested since the late 1980s but is understood to have deteriorated significantly from an already low level. The view in the West is that Ghadaffis disastrous 1977-87 military operations in Chad, the militarys only real experience of sustained conventional combat, proved how ineffective the armed forces are. The military was further disabled by purges of the senior ranks that followed a coup attempt against Ghadaffi in 1993. Such conventional weakness doubtless spurred Libya in its pursuit of unconventional and strategic weapons systems in the 1990s.· The UN sanctions, imposed in 1992, suspended in April 1999 after Tripoli surrendered two suspects indicted for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, and finally repealed in September 2003, prevented Libya acquiring any significant amounts of spare parts for its Soviet-supplied equipment. The armed forces consequently degenerated to the point where only around 50 per cent of its inventory could be called battle-ready and critical systems such as submarines, battle tanks and interceptors were inoperable in large numbers. Maintenance of surviving equipment and advanced training has relied heavily on contract expertise from the former Warsaw Pact states and Yugoslavia. While separate US sanctions will continue to cover military technology transfers until Libya is designated free of links to terrorism, the EU arms embargo was relaxed in September 2004 to allow for provision of systems and equipment to guard the Libyan coast and borders against massive illegal migration from sub-Saharan Africa towards the Unions Italian coast.· UN sanctions were barely suspended before Russian defence firms were lining up to sell Libya new weapons systems - such as the S-300PMU1/2 (SA10d Grumble) low-to-high altitude air-defence missiles and MiG-31 Foxhound interceptors - and upgrade programmes for its ageing fleet of MiG-21s and MiG-25s. However, Libya owes Moscow some USD2.4 billion in military debt dating from the Soviet era and this may hinder any plans Ghadaffi has for modernising his military forces. There is also a substantial body of opinion among the younger generation in Libya that the armed forces should move away from Soviet-designed equipment and reorganise and re-equip according to more flexible Western standards. South African defence suppliers have lobbied to supply replacements for Soviet generation equipment but Tripoli is likely to wait for all remaining embargoes to be lifted before ordering major new systems. However, France and the UK have also expressed an interest in supplying Libyas defence needs. Libya has also begun military co-operation with the British Ministry of Defence and the US military has expressed its interest in doing the same.· The military intervention in the Central African Republic (CAR) in May and November 2001 demonstrated the interventionist capability of the Libyan forces and Ghadaffis intention to field a rapid reaction force for action in Africa. Reports indicated that three Ilyushin Il-76 Candid aircraft flew several hundred Libyan troops, along with armoured vehicles and two helicopter gunships, into Bangui airport. The Libyan forces remained there as a presidential guard unit until December 2002, being joined by two Libyan fighter aircraft in November 2002. Tripoli also organised the deployment of Chadian troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1998-99 and sent security forces to assist Zimbabwean counterparts from 2001. Although Ghadaffis plans for an African Army have been rejected by the African Union (AU), the February 2004 agreement on a Common Defence and Security Policy for Africa envisaged the establishment of an AU intervention force of 15,000, which Ghadaffi would like to be based in Libya. Nonetheless, Libya remains behind the African mainstream in making troops available for multilateral peace support operations, including AU and UN missions.This page was saved from http://search.janes.com Did you know Janes Strategic Advisory Services can provide impartial, thoroughly researched market evaluation, providing© Janes Information Group, All rights reserved you with the same reliable insight you expect to find in our publications and online services?
  5. 5. Politics TOP· Although theoretically a democracy, Libya is actually governed by a highly personalised military-based dictatorship. Its political system, known as the Jamahiriya or state of the masses, is the highly esoteric product of Ghadaffis thinking, incorporating neither formal constitution, head of state nor political parties. It is based upon the Third Universal Theory espoused in Ghadaffis Green Book, which attempts to reconcile socialist and Islamic theories. All Libyans are expected to participate in Basic Peoples Congresses, which theoretically enable them to participate in all political decisions related to the country. Each Basic Peoples Congress has its own committee and secretariat. Local basic congresses mandate representatives to the General Peoples Congress (GPC), which then elects a General Peoples Committee that is the official embodiment of Peoples Authority. Ghadaffi plays no formal part in the Congress structure but in reality all power lies with him, supported by a clique of advisors and informal power networks made up of members of his own family and tribe, the Ghadafa as well as loyalists that have been with him since the time of the revolution. He also uses a range of security services and the Revolutionary Committees movement to ensure conformity and control.· Signs of Ghadaffis commitment to genuine reform and opening of the Jamahirya system are ambivalent at best. A new technocratic Secretary of the General Peoples Committee (prime minister), Shukri Ghanem, was appointed in a cabinet reshuffle in June 2003. An economist, Ghanem had previously served as Minister of Trade and Economy and his appointment reflected a perceived desire among the leadership to change course from socialism and open up the economy to privatisation and free enterprise. Harvard- educated Ghanem is considered a more approachable figure for Western governments than his predecessors and is very close to Ghadaffis reform-minded son and presumed heir, Saif el-Islam, who has increasingly become the international face of the regime. However, Ghadaffi has given Ghanem very limited room for manoeuvre and the leaders reshuffle of the General Peoples Committee in March 2004 introduced several hardliners from the Revolutionary Committees and served to block Ghanems reform initiatives. Moreover the power of the General Peoples Committee itself remains limited in relation to other informal power bases within the leadership. Few expect real changes in the closed Libyan system before the demise of the Leader of the Revolution, and - born in 1942 - he is young in relation to many of his African and Arab counterparts. Economy TOP· The oil-dependent economy has allowed what is, by North African standards, a high level of income per capita. However, this reliance on one commodity leaves the economy highly responsive to world fuel prices. Economic hardships during the oil price slump of 1997-98 seriously affected government stability and the threat of economic collapse led to cuts in public spending. Failure to release reliable economic data has meant that Libyas economic performance can only be guessed at but it is believed that the economy has grown at a low level since 1999 due to rising oil prices after the prior slump. Even so, GDP growth in 2004 and 2005 is predicted at just 5 per cent per year.· The limited UN sanctions imposed by the Security Council in April 1992 were suspended in April 1999 and formally repealed in September 2003. The damage inflicted on the Libyan economy - along with a slump in oil prices in 1997-98 that cost billions of dollars in lost revenue - was considerable. Tripoli estimated that the sanctions - an air and military sales embargo that also blocked the supply of oilfield equipment -This page was saved from http://search.janes.com Did you know Janes Strategic Advisory Services can provide impartial, thoroughly researched market evaluation, providing© Janes Information Group, All rights reserved you with the same reliable insight you expect to find in our publications and online services?
  6. 6. had caused USD26.5 billion in economic losses, about half from the oil sector. Two- thirds of the fleet owned by the national carrier, Libyan Arab Airlines, was grounded for lack of spares and only five aircraft were operational by May 1999. The airline claimed losses and damage totalling USD3 billion. Unilateral US economic sanctions imposed in 1986 remained in force until April 2004; a technological embargo remained in force and continued to restrict the Libyan civilian aerospace sector until September 2004. The oil, industrial and agricultural sectors suffered the biggest losses, totalling USD15 billion. The sanctions delayed the development of a number of oil and gas fields and oil recovery projects. Production from some fields declined because of the lack of spare parts, which were embargoed.· Libya has benefited handsomely from its decision to surrender the Lockerbie bombing suspects and abandon its development of weapons of mass destruction. European leaders and business delegations - especially those states that depend on Libya for oil and gas supplies and had lobbied for lifting the UN embargo - have flocked to Tripoli since late 2003, seeking to secure lucrative contracts for developing Libyas proven energy reserves: 39 billion barrels of oil and 52 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The lifting of US unilateral sanctions in September 2004 also opened the way for US companies to return to the country. Unlike their European rivals, these firms benefited greatly from the long-awaited EPSA IV licensing round for 15 exploration areas, the results of which were announced in January 2005. The second EPSA IV round, the results of which were announced in October 2005, saw Asian companies making the most gains, although some argued that the companies had paid too dearly for their triumph as they had offered some of the lowest production shares among the bidders.UPDATED2006 Janes Information GroupThis page was saved from http://search.janes.com Did you know Janes Strategic Advisory Services can provide impartial, thoroughly researched market evaluation, providing© Janes Information Group, All rights reserved you with the same reliable insight you expect to find in our publications and online services?
  7. 7. This page was saved from http://search.janes.com Did you know Janes Strategic Advisory Services can provide impartial, thoroughly researched market evaluation, providing© Janes Information Group, All rights reserved you with the same reliable insight you expect to find in our publications and online services?