Timeline: Benghazi in 2014

This has been without a doubt the worst year for Libya in a long time. We’ve witnessed terrorism, war and the rapid erosion of the nation as a whole. Rather than celebrating the New Year, Libyans are left wondering and worrying in fear if their country will even still exist in 2015.

In the tradition of yearly recaps, I’ve compiled a timeline of events from my social media pages from January until now. With the speed that events have taken, it can be easy to forget everything we’ve gone through to reach this point, which ultimately leads to shallow and uninformed analyses of the situation in Libya. *cough cough*

What I’m including here are events that have had a direct impact on my life, as a citizen of Benghazi. Most of it is bleak, but there have been a few rays of happiness here and there. (Pictures are from photographer Fadellulah Bujwary’s page unless otherwise stated)

Football - 2014 CAF African Nations Championships - Final - Libya v Ghana - Cape Town

The Libyan National Soccer Team (Source)

January 30th: Fighting breaks out in several districts of Benghazi between the Special Forces and a militia known as Ansar Al-Shariah

February 1st: Libya wins the African Nations Championship after scoring 4:3 in the penalties round to Ghana. Celebrations across much of the country

February 7th: Protests across the country against the General National Congress, after announcement that it would be extending its stay in power

February 14th: Retired general and Benghazi revolutionary’s commander Khalifa Heftar delivers a speech declaring that the GNC must be suspended and elections held to vote in a new government

February 20th: Elections across the country for the Council of 60, the constitution drafting assembly. Some cities, such as Derna, were unable to vote due to threats by armed groups and/or boycotters


Protester in Benghazi

February 26th: Protests and road blocks in many districts of Benghazi, sparked by anger at the continuing assassinations and deteriorating security situation of the city

February 28th: State of alert declared in Benghazi after 4 assassinations in one week. Protests continue in Benghazi.

March 5th: Special Forces commander Wanis Bukhamada’s son freed after being kidnapped by militia groups

March 11th: Ali Zeidan, Prime Minister of Libya, ousted by the GNC after a vote of no confidence

March 17th: A military college in Benghazi is bombed, killing and wounding several graduating recruits

Aptril 10th

Hajer Abdulhamid, who survived a terrorist attack that killed her father

April 5th: Calls for a 10-day civil disobedience strike in Benghazi in response to the city’s deteriorating security situation

April 9th: A technician in the Libyan air force, Abdul Hamid Imam, died after a bomb planted in car exploded. His baby daughter and wife were in the car with him

April 19th: Municipal council elections held in Benghazi

Municipal council elections in Benghazi

Municipal council elections in Benghazi (picture from election council’s FB page)

May 3rd: The Electron Youth Forum, a 3-day event with activists from all cross Libya, opens in Benghazi, despite clashes the night before between Ansar Shariah and the Special Forces

May 8th: Najia Tayyeb, a women known for sweeping Benghazi’ seaside promenade since the revolution, was shot in a drive-by shooting

May 9th: Clashes between Ansar Shariah and the Special Forces in Benghazi

May 16th: Operation Dignity, an offensive led by Khalifa Heftar against Ansar Shariah and militia groups, starts in Benghazi. Benina International Airport closes due to attacks by Ansar Shariah

May 20th: The University of Benghazi closes indefinitely

May 26th: Muftah Bouzaid, prominent Benghazi journalist and political analyst, is assassinated

A pro-army, anti-terrorism protester in Benghazi

A pro-army, anti-terrorism protester in Benghazi

May 27th: Mohamed Zahawi, Ansar Shariah spokesperson, holds a press conference in which he states that America is their enemy and that they will fight all who support Khalifa Heftar

May 30th: Protests in Benghazi against the continued assassinations in the city and in support of Operation Karama

June 3rd: Fighting intensifies in Benghazi between the Libyan army under the banner of Karama, against Ansar Shariah and militia groups.

Salwa Bugaghis voting in the Parliamentary elections, hours before she was killed

Salwa Bugaghis voting in the Parliamentary elections, hours before she was killed (picture from Salwa’s FB page)

June 25th: Parliamentary elections held across Libya. Derna and Kufra do not participate due to armed groups. Lawyer and activist Salwa Bugaghis murdered inside her home in Benghazi

June 28th: Ramadan begins in Libya

July 8th: Daily multiple assassinations in Benghazi since the start of Ramadan

July 13th: Militias from surrounding cities attack Tripoli International Airport

July 17th: Fariha Berkawi, former GNC member, assassinated in Derna

July 23rd: Fighting escalates between Ansar Shariah + militias (now calling themselves The Revolutionary’s Shura Council) against the Special Forces

July 26th: The Benghazi Revolutionary’s Shura Council (BRSC) makes a statement demanding that the results of the Parliamentary elections be cancelled

July 29th: Continued attacks on the Special Forces base by the BRSC leads to their retreat out of Benghazi

August 1st: Reports that Ansar Shariah declares Benghazi an ‘Islamic emirate’. Large protests in Benghazi in support of the army and against Ansar Shariah and the BRSC.

Pro-army, anti-terrorism protest in front of Tibesti Hotel, Benghazi

Pro-army, anti-terrorism protest in front of Tibesti Hotel, Benghazi

August 4th: The democratically elected House of Representatives convenes in Tobruk due to the unstable situation in Benghazi

August 13th: The House of Representatives ratify a law stating all militia groups must disband

August 24th: Tripoli International Airport is set on fire by Misrati militias. Assault by Ansar Shariah continue on Benina International Airport

10686722_768272909900871_6066513142209257968_nSeptember 19th: Tawfik Bensaud, one of Benghazi’s most prominent activists, is assassinated, along with his friend and fellow activist Sami Elkwafi. They are the 13th and 14th assassination attempts of the day.

September 29th: UNSMIL organizes peace talks in Ghadames between all sides. They fail to produce any tangible change

October 2nd: Activists in Benghazi celebrate International Day of Peace

October 12th: The new school year in Benghazi is delayed indefinitely due to violence in the city

October 15th: The final phase of Operation Karama begins in Benghazi, starting an all-out war in the city between the Libyan army and the terrorist groups

October 31st: The Libyan army takes control of Selmani, among other districts in Benghazi

November 6th: The Libyan Supreme Court makes a vague ruling that the House of Representatives must be dissolved, under duress from militia groups

November 11th: Petition is circulated demanding that Benghazi be declared a disaster zone

December 3rd: The Libyan army takes control of the Bel’own district of Benghazi

December 23th: The Libyan army launches an assault on the Laithi district of Benghazi. Ansar Shariah, who control the area, kill several civilians and burn houses in retaliation

December 26th: Over 1400 violent deaths in Benghazi this year (source)