Showing posts tagged as "william lawrence"

Showing posts tagged william lawrence

5 Feb
Libya’s track to security challenged by militias and the Mali nexus | Al Arabiya
By Oussama Romdhani
Despite all street protests against the bloody attack on the U.S. Embassy and the security measures taken by the government after the attack, violence has continued unabated in Benghazi. There has been even another attack on a Western diplomatic target. The failed assassination attempt against Italian consul Guido De Sanctis, on January 12, caused a stir.
“This attack will certainly be a reason of concern for many oil companies who are operating in Libya or planning to return to Libya,” the Tripoli-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, Claudia Gazzini, said. “It can have a negative impact on their decision to stay or return.” 
With Italy being the number one foreign investor in Libya’s hydrocarbon sector, this attack did not obviously help the Libyan government in its efforts to woo back Western companies. Only two days before the assassination attempt, Mohammed Megarief, President of the Libyan National Assembly, was in fact on an investment promotion trip in Rome. In December, Italy’s ENI was the second foreign oil company, after Algeria’s Sonatrach, to announce the resumption of oil exploration in Libya. 
FULL ARTICLE (Al Arabiya)
Photo: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

Libya’s track to security challenged by militias and the Mali nexus | Al Arabiya

By Oussama Romdhani

Despite all street protests against the bloody attack on the U.S. Embassy and the security measures taken by the government after the attack, violence has continued unabated in Benghazi. There has been even another attack on a Western diplomatic target. The failed assassination attempt against Italian consul Guido De Sanctis, on January 12, caused a stir.

“This attack will certainly be a reason of concern for many oil companies who are operating in Libya or planning to return to Libya,” the Tripoli-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, Claudia Gazzini, said. “It can have a negative impact on their decision to stay or return.” 

With Italy being the number one foreign investor in Libya’s hydrocarbon sector, this attack did not obviously help the Libyan government in its efforts to woo back Western companies. Only two days before the assassination attempt, Mohammed Megarief, President of the Libyan National Assembly, was in fact on an investment promotion trip in Rome. In December, Italy’s ENI was the second foreign oil company, after Algeria’s Sonatrach, to announce the resumption of oil exploration in Libya. 

FULL ARTICLE (Al Arabiya)

Photo: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

23 Jan
Hostage crisis shatters Algeria’s image as a safe place to do business | Agence France-Presse via The National
Last week’s hostage-taking has rocked the image of Algeria’s powerful security apparatus, raising questions about how gunmen could have overrun the key Ain Amenas gasfield, with alarming implications for the energy sector.
As foreign governments continued to count the human cost of the attack, in which 37 foreign workers were killed, Algiers has scrambled to contain the fallout from its inability to stop the world’s deadliest hostage crisis in almost a decade.
FULL ARTICLE (AFP via The National)
Photo: looking4poetry/Flickr

Hostage crisis shatters Algeria’s image as a safe place to do business | Agence France-Presse via The National

Last week’s hostage-taking has rocked the image of Algeria’s powerful security apparatus, raising questions about how gunmen could have overrun the key Ain Amenas gasfield, with alarming implications for the energy sector.

As foreign governments continued to count the human cost of the attack, in which 37 foreign workers were killed, Algiers has scrambled to contain the fallout from its inability to stop the world’s deadliest hostage crisis in almost a decade.

FULL ARTICLE (AFP via The National)

Photo: looking4poetry/Flickr

7 Dec
2 years after revolution, Tunisia’s interior still suffers, endangering democratic transition | Associated Press via The Washington Post
RABAT, Morocco — Five days of riots last week in a town in Tunisia’s impoverished interior wounded hundreds of people and deepened the rift between the two most powerful forces in this North African country: the moderate Islamist ruling party and the main labor union.
With the two at loggerheads, the threat of a nationwide general strike next week could plunge the economically struggling country back into chaos, endangering its government and its transition to democracy nearly two years after Tunisians ousted a dictator and kicked off the Arab Spring revolutions.
FULL ARTICLE (Associated Press via The Washington Post)
Photo: Nasser Nouri/Flickr 

2 years after revolution, Tunisia’s interior still suffers, endangering democratic transition | Associated Press via The Washington Post

RABAT, Morocco — Five days of riots last week in a town in Tunisia’s impoverished interior wounded hundreds of people and deepened the rift between the two most powerful forces in this North African country: the moderate Islamist ruling party and the main labor union.

With the two at loggerheads, the threat of a nationwide general strike next week could plunge the economically struggling country back into chaos, endangering its government and its transition to democracy nearly two years after Tunisians ousted a dictator and kicked off the Arab Spring revolutions.

FULL ARTICLE (Associated Press via The Washington Post)

Photo: Nasser Nouri/Flickr 

16 Oct
Jihadists’ rise in Arab world threatens region’s stability | The Independent 
The proliferation of militant jihadi groups across the Arab world is posing a new threat to the region’s stability, presenting fresh challenges to emerging democracies and undermining prospects for a smooth transition in Syria should the regime fall.
From Egypt’s Sinai desert to eastern Libya and the battlegrounds of Syria’s civil war, the push for greater democracy made possible by revolts in the Middle East and North Africa has also unleashed new freedoms that militants are using to preach, practice and recruit.
FULL ARTICLE (The Independent)
Photo: FreedomHouse/Flickr 

Jihadists’ rise in Arab world threatens region’s stability | The Independent 

The proliferation of militant jihadi groups across the Arab world is posing a new threat to the region’s stability, presenting fresh challenges to emerging democracies and undermining prospects for a smooth transition in Syria should the regime fall.

From Egypt’s Sinai desert to eastern Libya and the battlegrounds of Syria’s civil war, the push for greater democracy made possible by revolts in the Middle East and North Africa has also unleashed new freedoms that militants are using to preach, practice and recruit.

FULL ARTICLE (The Independent)

Photo: FreedomHouse/Flickr 

Experts Urge Focus on Microeconomics in Maghreb | AlertNet
By Carey L. Biron
A year and a half since popular revolts led to a historic wave of pro-democracy optimism, the political transitions in Arab Spring countries remain beset by sectarian factionalism and rusty or nascent governance institutions. Yet such issues are being further hindered by the stuttering global economy, particularly in Europe, and a lack of focus by policymakers on the informal sector.
"Remember, almost all the self-immolators during the Arab Spring uprisings were informal-sector actors," William Lawrence, North Africa director with the International Crisis Group (ICG), a watchdog, said in Washington on Friday.
"Until these governments stop seeing the informal sector as the enemy, and until they decide to turn to this sector for taxes and sustainable jobs, you’re going to have a terrible economic situation in all of these countries. Instead, we’re seeing the exact opposite, a clampdown on the informal sector."
FULL ARTICLE (AlertNet)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/User:Man

Experts Urge Focus on Microeconomics in Maghreb | AlertNet

By Carey L. Biron

A year and a half since popular revolts led to a historic wave of pro-democracy optimism, the political transitions in Arab Spring countries remain beset by sectarian factionalism and rusty or nascent governance institutions. Yet such issues are being further hindered by the stuttering global economy, particularly in Europe, and a lack of focus by policymakers on the informal sector.

"Remember, almost all the self-immolators during the Arab Spring uprisings were informal-sector actors," William Lawrence, North Africa director with the International Crisis Group (ICG), a watchdog, said in Washington on Friday.

"Until these governments stop seeing the informal sector as the enemy, and until they decide to turn to this sector for taxes and sustainable jobs, you’re going to have a terrible economic situation in all of these countries. Instead, we’re seeing the exact opposite, a clampdown on the informal sector."

FULL ARTICLE (AlertNet)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/User:Man

4 Oct
Questions mount in US over Benghazi attack | AFP
By Jo Biddle
"I think the key word here is opportunism," said William Lawrence, a former White House advisor and now North Africa project director for the International Crisis Group.
Security in Benghazi had been bad since Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi was ousted last year, with militias becoming the de facto security forces in the absence of a working, functional army or police.
And the US compound “had nothing like the type of security posture or security structure in place to defend it the way that a diplomatic compound normally gets defended,” Lawrence told AFP.
FULL ARTICLE (AFP)
Photo: VOA/Wikimedia Commons

Questions mount in US over Benghazi attack | AFP

By Jo Biddle

"I think the key word here is opportunism," said William Lawrence, a former White House advisor and now North Africa project director for the International Crisis Group.

Security in Benghazi had been bad since Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi was ousted last year, with militias becoming the de facto security forces in the absence of a working, functional army or police.

And the US compound “had nothing like the type of security posture or security structure in place to defend it the way that a diplomatic compound normally gets defended,” Lawrence told AFP.

FULL ARTICLE (AFP)

Photo: VOA/Wikimedia Commons

25 Sep
Libya’s volunteer peacekeepers | Foreign Policy
By William Lawrence, International Crisis Group
In the pre-dawn blackness of September 12, I hurtled toward Tunis Carthage airport en route to Tripoli. I was looking forward to seeing my friend Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador who had invited all nine members in our delegation representing the International Crisis Group (ICG) and the Canadian government to his home for a Saturday night reception to talk about Libya’s turbulent transition.
The high-speed Tunisian taxi driver, who doubles as a freelance currency trader, told me, “More Libyans are coming every day. I’m making lots of money. It’s getting worse.” I thought for a minute about his unscientific sample and wondered, “How bad is it?” At Tunisian customs, I was all alone. The immigration official spent too much time half-heartedly scrutinizing my passport, then looked up and said, “You came in yesterday?” “Yes,” I replied. “It was not a good day for you.”
"Why?" I asked. He hesitated, then mumbled, eyes downcast, "It was 11 September."  He glanced up and returned my passport with a wince. Something was up, but I did not know what.
It was only when I arrived at Tripoli International Airport that I finally learned about the consequences of the attack on the U.S. consulate. I later learned that Chris had gasped his last breath just two or three hours before I had arisen, with Dr. Ziad Bouzaid at Benghazi Medical Center trying valiantly to revive him for 45 minutes. A few hours later his body would be lifted onto its last flight to Frankfurt amidst an outpouring of grief and disbelief on both sides of the Atlantic.
FULL ARTICLE (Foreign Policy)
Photo: faithgoble/Flickr

Libya’s volunteer peacekeepers | Foreign Policy

By William Lawrence, International Crisis Group

In the pre-dawn blackness of September 12, I hurtled toward Tunis Carthage airport en route to Tripoli. I was looking forward to seeing my friend Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador who had invited all nine members in our delegation representing the International Crisis Group (ICG) and the Canadian government to his home for a Saturday night reception to talk about Libya’s turbulent transition.

The high-speed Tunisian taxi driver, who doubles as a freelance currency trader, told me, “More Libyans are coming every day. I’m making lots of money. It’s getting worse.” I thought for a minute about his unscientific sample and wondered, “How bad is it?” At Tunisian customs, I was all alone. The immigration official spent too much time half-heartedly scrutinizing my passport, then looked up and said, “You came in yesterday?” “Yes,” I replied. “It was not a good day for you.”

"Why?" I asked. He hesitated, then mumbled, eyes downcast, "It was 11 September."  He glanced up and returned my passport with a wince. Something was up, but I did not know what.

It was only when I arrived at Tripoli International Airport that I finally learned about the consequences of the attack on the U.S. consulate. I later learned that Chris had gasped his last breath just two or three hours before I had arisen, with Dr. Ziad Bouzaid at Benghazi Medical Center trying valiantly to revive him for 45 minutes. A few hours later his body would be lifted onto its last flight to Frankfurt amidst an outpouring of grief and disbelief on both sides of the Atlantic.

FULL ARTICLE (Foreign Policy)

Photo: faithgoble/Flickr

16 Sep
"What most of the fighters want to do is not be in the army or the police. They want to go start businesses or have regular jobs based on their training or what their interests are. But the problem with that is, who are going to be the security forces? And that’s a big question mark…. The timeframe we’re talking about is two to three – up to ten years – before the Libyan security forces are in a position to confront all the challenges we’re talking about. Whereas, right now, we’re talking about action in days, weeks or months which, as we’ve been saying, will depend on these armed groups operating almost in a voluntary way or under contract with the government to do the government’s business."

—William Lawrence, Crisis Group’s North Africa Project Director, on what the Libyan government can do to provide security, in “QUICKTAKE: Libya’s Enduring Conflicts – William Lawrence,” Middle East Voices

15 Sep
Libya’s Enduring Conflicts – William Lawrence | Middle East Voices

William Lawrence, Director of the North Africa Project for the International Crisis Group, spoke with VOA’s Carol Castiel on Thursday by phone from Tripoli. He shared his thoughts about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and the tragic death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, whom Lawrence knew and respected.
In a wide-ranging conversation that touched on U.S. – Libyan relations, the lack of state institutions, outrage over the video mocking the Prophet Muhammad, and recommendations from ICG’s latest report on Libya called “Divided We Stand : Libya’s Enduring Conflicts,”  Lawrence says that Libyan authorities and the great majority of Libyans have condemned the attack and are resolved to work with the United States to bring the perpetrators to justice and greater stability to Libya.
The complete interview can be heard on Press Conference USA (as of 15 September).

FULL ARTICLE (Middle East Voices)
Photo: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

Libya’s Enduring Conflicts – William Lawrence | Middle East Voices

William Lawrence, Director of the North Africa Project for the International Crisis Group, spoke with VOA’s Carol Castiel on Thursday by phone from Tripoli. He shared his thoughts about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and the tragic death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, whom Lawrence knew and respected.

In a wide-ranging conversation that touched on U.S. – Libyan relations, the lack of state institutions, outrage over the video mocking the Prophet Muhammad, and recommendations from ICG’s latest report on Libya called “Divided We Stand : Libya’s Enduring Conflicts,”  Lawrence says that Libyan authorities and the great majority of Libyans have condemned the attack and are resolved to work with the United States to bring the perpetrators to justice and greater stability to Libya.

The complete interview can be heard on Press Conference USA (as of 15 September).

FULL ARTICLE (Middle East Voices)

Photo: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

14 Sep
Divided We Stand: Libya’s Enduring Conflicts
Tripoli/Brussels | 14 Sep 2012
The violent death of the U.S. ambassador and three of his colleagues is a stark reminder of the challenges Libya still faces and should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities to urgently fill the security vacuum.
Divided We Stand: Libya’s Enduring Conflicts, the latest International Crisis Group report, warns that although Libya often is hailed as one of the more encouraging Arab uprisings, recovering faster than expected, it is also a country of regions and localities pulling in different directions, beset by intercommunal strife and where well-armed groups freely roam.
“Because the country lacks a fully functioning state, effective army or professional police, local actors have stepped in to provide safety, mediate disputes and impose ceasefires”, says William Lawrence, Crisis Group’s North Africa Project Director. “But ultimately, these actors cannot take on the state’s role in implementing ceasefires and ensuring conditions of peace. Truces remain fragile, and local conflicts are left frozen or fragile rather than truly resolved”.
Qadhafi’s longstanding divide-and-rule strategy set communities against one another, each vying for a share of resources and the regime’s favour. Some towns grew wealthy thanks to connections with the ruling elite; others suffered badly. Meanwhile, the security apparatus at once fomented, manipulated and managed intercommunal conflicts.
Once the lid was removed, there was every reason to fear a free-for-all, as the myriad of armed groups that proliferated during the rebellion sought material advantage, political influence or, more simply, revenge. This was all the more so given the security vacuum produced by the regime’s precipitous fall.
Proper management of the country’s many local disputes will require significant reform of both military and civilian aspects of conflict resolution, notably better coordination between local notables and the government and better coordination among the Libyan Shield Forces, the army and the groups that make up the border guard. It also demands bottom-up reform of the army and police.
The challenge will be to do this even as the newly elected General National Congress and future constitutional drafting committee are focused on establishing the legislative foundations of a new state.
“Until now, central authorities have acted chiefly as bystanders, in effect subcontracting security to largely autonomous armed groups”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director. “This is not sustainable. The new government needs to take concrete steps to reform its security forces and establish structures of a functioning state. Anything less will perpetuate what already is in place: local disputes occurring in a fragmented and heavily armed landscape, with the ever-present risk of escalation”.
FULL REPORT

Divided We Stand: Libya’s Enduring Conflicts

Tripoli/Brussels | 14 Sep 2012

The violent death of the U.S. ambassador and three of his colleagues is a stark reminder of the challenges Libya still faces and should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities to urgently fill the security vacuum.

Divided We Stand: Libya’s Enduring Conflicts, the latest International Crisis Group report, warns that although Libya often is hailed as one of the more encouraging Arab uprisings, recovering faster than expected, it is also a country of regions and localities pulling in different directions, beset by intercommunal strife and where well-armed groups freely roam.

“Because the country lacks a fully functioning state, effective army or professional police, local actors have stepped in to provide safety, mediate disputes and impose ceasefires”, says William Lawrence, Crisis Group’s North Africa Project Director. “But ultimately, these actors cannot take on the state’s role in implementing ceasefires and ensuring conditions of peace. Truces remain fragile, and local conflicts are left frozen or fragile rather than truly resolved”.

Qadhafi’s longstanding divide-and-rule strategy set communities against one another, each vying for a share of resources and the regime’s favour. Some towns grew wealthy thanks to connections with the ruling elite; others suffered badly. Meanwhile, the security apparatus at once fomented, manipulated and managed intercommunal conflicts.

Once the lid was removed, there was every reason to fear a free-for-all, as the myriad of armed groups that proliferated during the rebellion sought material advantage, political influence or, more simply, revenge. This was all the more so given the security vacuum produced by the regime’s precipitous fall.

Proper management of the country’s many local disputes will require significant reform of both military and civilian aspects of conflict resolution, notably better coordination between local notables and the government and better coordination among the Libyan Shield Forces, the army and the groups that make up the border guard. It also demands bottom-up reform of the army and police.

The challenge will be to do this even as the newly elected General National Congress and future constitutional drafting committee are focused on establishing the legislative foundations of a new state.

“Until now, central authorities have acted chiefly as bystanders, in effect subcontracting security to largely autonomous armed groups”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director. “This is not sustainable. The new government needs to take concrete steps to reform its security forces and establish structures of a functioning state. Anything less will perpetuate what already is in place: local disputes occurring in a fragmented and heavily armed landscape, with the ever-present risk of escalation”.

FULL REPORT