Business Travel to Tripoli: Doing it safe

By Max Security’s Intelligence Department

As Libya’s interim government pushes forward with its effort to establish sole authority over the country’s security apparatus, the country’s emerging market continues attract international corporate entities who wish to stake their claims on monetary potentials. However, the transitional government’s ability to restore security has been marred by ongoing inter-factional violence, an emerging black market, and other forms of civil unrest and lawlessness.

Ever since rebel forces swept into the capital, various militias have been deployed throughout the capital to maintain security as Gaddafi’s police force nearly crumbled. Many of these militiamen carry automatic weapons, with little training, making their actions unpredictable. These factions still control various parts of the city, maintaining checkpoints and conducting raids on those suspected as “Gaddafi Loyalists.” Due to the resurgence of lawlessness, the government issued a decree, mandating all militias to leave the capital by December 20. The decree raised tensions between various tribes who are untrusting of the new government’s dedication to including them in future power sharing.

As a result, ethnic Berbers and other tribes have begun to conduct protests and other acts of civil disobedience outside the city’s various government ministries.  Meanwhile, tribal militias such as the Zintan Brigades have held on to captured areas of the city, using them as leverage, forcing the government to negotiate for their cooperation. While the most notable altercations have taken place at the Tripoli international airport, still under Zintan Brigade control, shootouts have taken place at area banks and even hospitals.

While the various civil demonstrations and inter-factional firefights have not led to any widespread unrest, their frequent occurrence highlights the necessity of taking utmost precaution when traveling to Tripoli.  While much of this unrest does not target foreigners, the rise of Islamist influences once banned under Gaddafi makes the future of anti-Western sentiment in Libya somewhat unpredictable.

Traveling throughout the city gives rise to other sets of challenges. Road safety is becoming a growing concern as traffic police are often unwilling to enforce the law or penalize drivers for violations. Stop signs and traffic lights are perceived by locals to be suggestions, rather than directives, resulting in the increasing rate of automobile accidents.

Taking into account the aforementioned, when traveling to Tripoli, it is strongly advised to prepare stringent security preparations with regard to ground support, personal itinerary, and medical provisions, while including contingency planning. Before heading out for the airport for your flight to or from the country- keep in mind that flight operations are hindered by logistical failures, labor strikes, and even inter-factional fighting. Those who make the trip should prepare themselves for witnessing firsthand the aftermath of a bloody revolution. Heavily-armed militiamen are still present at the airport, while the carcasses of buildings destroyed in NATO airstrikes can be seen in various areas of the city. If confronted by militia at roadblocks or anywhere else, be respectful and maintain composure, while refraining from any action that could raise tension.

Despite the challenges, post- revolution Tripoli is open for business.

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