Zuwara’s security forces are effectively on their own, relying on old vehicles and seized weapons to perform duties.
The municipality security chief said the Presidency Council’s government had given only five Kalashnikovs to his team of roughly 350. Colonel Aymadeddin Absa revealed he had never received any cars from the Tripoli administration and had to use those left over from the 2011 revolution and before.
“All the government does is pay our salaries, that is basically it. Last night we arrested two drunk guys who were randomly firing AK-47’s. We confiscated the guns and they are now ours. It is normal,” he told the Libya Herald.
Absa said the EU, UN and Italy had also contributed nothing, despite previous promises and with Zuwara playing a key role in anti-migration efforts. Almost all investment came from the municipality he added.
“We don’t have enough resources but equipment is expensive. Preferably I would like another ten vehicles as long as they are 4×4’s,” said Absa.
But he insisted the department was not appealing for more money, Absa said he was simply laying out the situation as it was.
“We have never had enough support. If it had bothered us enough, we would have quit ten years ago,” he said.
“My focus is on making a respected police force who look after the people. Crime is low, murder is low, theft is on the rise – but we are fighting it,” Absa added.
The Security Directorate is in the process of creating a specialist horse unit. The motivation is three-fold; firstly it allows police to creep up on suspected offenders by making less noise. Secondly, it allows better access to the beach. Thirdly, with limited resources, using horses was seen as cost effective.
Last month, pro-PC forces led by western military zone commander Usama Juwaili, launched an attack on the nearby Ras Jedir border crossing with Tunisia. A ceasefire was declared, but Zuwara’s mayor said he didn’t think it was the end of the conflict.
“Juwaili wants this war, we don’t trust him. Maybe he lost the battle but doesn’t want to lose the war,” said Hafez Ben Sassi.
He also referenced attacks by Juwaili’s forces on the Melittah Oil and Gas Complex in 2013 and Abu Kammash in 2015.
While Ras Jedir is now calm, Absa said his forces were not involved whatsoever with the border. When asked who was in control, he said it was the Presidential Guard-appointed Brigadier-General Hafez Al-Ghali.
On the road leading out of Ras Jedir, the Security Directorate of Zuwara appears to be in charge of the checkpoints.
In Zuwara itself, it seems Absa is certainly in control but security in the town is not particularly obvious, save for the occasional police car. The exception is the port, which is protected by soldiers from the Ministry of Defence who cooperate with the Zuwaran coastguard.