By Ayman Amzein.
Benghazi, 21 June 2015
Yesterday Benghazi’s Shara Ashreen reopened. Today, workmen could be seen repairing street lighting on the Airport . . .[restrict]Road near Benina. These may seem little things, but little things like this mean a great deal in a city that has suffered so much in the past 12 months. They say that normality is coming back to Benghazi.
Certainly Ramadan 2015 is proving itself remarkably different to Ramadan 2014. There is a real sense of a city recovering.
A year ago, even before Operation Dignity started, there was fear in Benghazi. Ansar Al-Sharia were on the rise forcing the Saiqa Brigade into retreat; there were almost daily shootings, bombings assassinations and kidnappings; and Benghazi was a city in fear. People did not go out unless it was necessary.
Today, with the military back in control of much of Benghazi and a sense of security as a result, residents are returning to their homes in many areas. More tellingly, before just Ramadan started, people were out shopping in their droves, causing traffic jams as a result. Shops and markets are now doing a roaring trade – something that was not the case a year ago.
There is a sense of confidence, the result of seeing police and the army on the streets. There is a feeling that the gunmen and the militants have been beaten and it is only a matter of time before the battle is completely over.
Benghazi is still in a state of war. It has to cope with displaced families and is living in a country with two governments and where ordinary citizens want simply to live in peace and security. Conditions remain very difficult and there is a strong sense that that the government and the municipal council are paying woefully insufficient attention to the city’s needs.
But Benghazi is recovering. Ramadan 2015 feels so much better than Ramadan 2014.