Weekly Digest – Libya (22nd December 2020)

Weekly Highlights

  • Sarraj Orders Reorganization of Special Deterrence Force away from Bashagha
  • Road transportation between Tripoli, Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Tobruk and Cairo restart from Friday
  • Italian fishermen held in Libya freed after more than 100 days
  • Tobruk clashes death toll rises to four, 20 wounded
  • Russia to resume oil operations in Libya
  • At Least 120 Migrants Intercepted Off Libya’s Coast
  • Currency Exchange:
    • Bank exchange rate:  USD 1 – LYD 1.342
    • Black market exchange rate:  USD 1 – LYD 5.64

Sarraj Orders Reorganization of Special Deterrence Force away from Bashagha

Conflict within Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) has taken a new course after its head, Fayez Al-Sarraj, ordered the reorganization of the Special Deterrence Force away from the Interior Ministry.   The move removes the Force’s subordination to Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha.   On another note, the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) Abbas Kamel conveyed during a surprise visit to the Libyan city of Benghazi on Saturday a message of support from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to the Libyan people on various military and political levels. AAWSAT

Road transportation between Tripoli, Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Tobruk and Cairo restart from Friday

The General Express Transport Company in Tripoli announced on Sunday the restart of road transport from its main bus station in Dahra area in Tripoli to Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Tobruk and the Egyptian capital Cairo, beginning from next Friday, December 25, 2020.  The company said in a statement that the trip to Cairo is set to cost 315 dinars, whilst trips to Tobruk, Benghazi and Ajdabiya will cost 70, 50 and 40 dinars respectively.  LIBYAN OBSERVER

Italian fishermen held in Libya freed after more than 100 days

Eighteen Italian fishermen held captive in Libya for more than 100 days, have been freed, ending a political standoff between the two countries over the fate of the men.  The prolonged imprisonment of the group had become an embarrassment for Italy’s government, with critics accusing ministers of failing to stand up to Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who holds sway in eastern Libya.  The Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, and foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, flew to Benghazi for the release of the fishermen, who were on board two Sicilian boats that were seized by Haftar’s forces on 1 September.  THE GUARDIAN

Tobruk clashes death toll rises to four, 20 wounded

At least four people have been killed and 20 others wounded as a result of the clashes that broke out in Tobruk city east of Libya on 17 Dec.  Sources from the city said that confrontations broke out between two families from different tribes, on the backdrop of a decision to assign a member from one of the mentioned tribes to the position of director of the social security fund as a substitute for the current official who descends from the other tribe.  The source indicated that before the clashes, gunmen, blew up the new social security fund HQ located in the Kombout district, east of Tobruk.   LIBYA OBSERVER

Russia to resume oil operations in Libya

Russian company TATNEFT intends to resume production and exploration operation in Libya after a near decade long suspension.  TATNEFT halted its operations in Libya soon after the revolution of 17 February according to the National Oil Corporation but is now reconsidering the resumption of work in four different sites in Libya.  The company had attempted to return to their designated sites two years after the revolution took place but were forced to leave again in 2014 due to the escalation of military tensions.  LIBYAN EXPRESS

At Least 120 Migrants Intercepted Off Libya’s Coast

More than 120 Europe-bound migrants, including eight women and 28 children, were intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea by Libya’s coast guard, the UN migration agency said on Thursday.  The International Organization for Migration tweeted that a vessel carrying the migrants was stopped late on Wednesday off the coast of the North African country and that the migrants were returned to Libya.    AAWSAT


List of holidays in Libya 2020

Exchange rates – Libyan Dinar

According to our most recent information (20th December 2020) the Libyan Dinar has the following exchange rates.

The exchange rate from your own bank or credit card company will differ somewhat from the exchange rates as mentioned above. Your bank or credit card company might also apply additional international charges.


Crime levels in Libya remain high, including the threat of kidnapping for ransom. Westerners and U.S. citizens have been targets of these crimes.

Terrorist groups continue plotting attacks in Libya. Violent extremist activity in Libya remains high, and extremist groups have made threats against citizens. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, hotels, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and government facilities.

Outbreaks of violence between competing armed groups can occur with little warning and have the potential to impact citizens. The capital, Tripoli, and other cities, such as Surman, Al-Jufra, Misrata, Ajdabiya, Benghazi, Sabha, and Dernah, have witnessed fighting among armed groups, as well as terrorist attacks. Hotels and airports frequented by Westerners have been the targets of these attacks. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.

For the latest advice from the Libyan government, please visit the National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) webpage at ncdc.org.ly/Ar/

If you decide to travel to Libya:

  • Carry proof of citizenship and valid immigration status at all times.
  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
  • Make contingency plans to leave.
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organisation or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization.

Libya’s Gen Haftar frees Italy fishermen held for months

Eighteen foreign fishermen who were held in war-torn Libya for more than three months have been released after a visit by Italy’s PM Giuseppe Conte.  Libyan patrol boats loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar arrested the men, who are based in Sicily, on 1 September. The group were accused of trespassing in Libyan waters.  Italy disputed that claim. 

The detention of the men was embarrassing for Mr Conte, accused by some of being too soft on the general.  Of the 18, eight are Italian nationals. Six are from Tunisia, two are Indonesians and two are Senegalese.  They operated from the Sicilian village of Mazara del Vallo and fished off the Libyan coast in waters that have long been rich in highly prized red prawn.

Libya has been torn by violence since long-time ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011 by NATO-backed forces.  Gen Haftar’s forces, which control the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi and a large swathe of the country, are battling the UN-recognised government based in the capital Tripoli.  It is not clear what, if anything, Gen Haftar may have received in return for the sailors’ release.  The men’s families had been campaigning in the Italian capital Rome to try and secure their freedom. On Thursday Cristina, the wife of one of them, said: “I can’t wait to see them coming back home and enjoy my moment, putting politics aside… It’s already Christmas for us.”

Fears of Clashes Resuming Between Militias in Tripoli

Controversial movements of some armed militias affiliated with Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital, Tripoli, have raised fears of a new wave of clashes. 

Head of the so-called Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB) Haithem Tajouri has recently launched a verbal attack on the GNA and its loyal forces describing it as a weak government.  His comments seemed to be in response to GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha’s earlier attempts to control the entrances and exits of the capital.   Tajouri demanded that he be informed of whoever wants to enter Tripoli, whether patrols or any deployed force in the city. 

Meanwhile, military commanders from the GNA-affiliated “Volcano of Rage” operation said TRB was on a state of alert.   Local residents have also noticed the sudden and unexplained repositioning of some militias in Tripoli during the past two days.


Head of Egyptian General Intelligence, Major General Abbas Kamel, held a meeting on Saturday with renegade Libyan General Khalifa Haftar and Tobruk Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh.  This came during a visit conducted by Kamel to the city of Benghazi, the Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.  The agency stated that Kamel visited Benghazi as a delegate of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, and discussed a number of issues with Haftar, adding that it included confirmation of Cairo’s efforts and support for the outcomes of the Joint Military Committee meetings, which resulted in maintaining the ceasefire and taking a number of measures that contribute to stabilising the military and security situation in Libya.  MEMO

Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga met with US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland to discuss prospects for cooperation between Libya and the United States.  The meeting which took place in Misrata also included the commander of Volcano of Rage field operations room and member of the 5 + 5 committee, Major General Ahmed Abu Shahma.  The discussion focused primarily on cooperation between Libya and the United States in the field of security as well as reviewing political situation following the recent developments, and the outcomes of the 5 + 5 dialogue, which was held in Ghadames recently.    LIBYAN EXPRESS

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte discussed developments in Libya related to inter-Libyan political dialogue with Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi on Thursday.  According to Haftar’s media office, he hailed “the role of the Italian government in supporting solutions to the Libyan crisis.”  The media office did not provide any statements by the Italian officials who accompanied Conte in his visit to Benghazi, however.  Following the short visit, the Italian Foreign Ministry said that 18 Italian fishermen who were incarcerated in Libya for three months by Haftar’s militia were released.   AA

The German ambassador to Libya, Oliver Owcza, welcomed the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Libya and the decision taken to unify the exchange rate of the Libyan dinar.  “We welcome the meeting of the board of directors of the Central Bank of Libya and the decision taken to unify the exchange rate of the Libyan dinar”, the German ambassador to Libya said in a tweet on his Twitter site, considering the matter important to achieve stability in the Libyan economy and bring the divided institutions closer.  He also expressed his hope that this order will be executed in a smooth and free manner.  LANA NEWS


The total number of Covid-19 cases in Libya rose to 95,200 including 65,532 recoveries and 1369 fatalities as of Monday. The National Center for Disease Control recorded 640 new cases, 722 recoveries and 16 deaths in the past 24 hours.