Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Libya: questions and answers

What threat remains from the Gaddafi regime?

A considerable one. Pro-regime snipers cut off the road to Tripoli's airport yesterday and launched repeated attacks on Gaddafi's compound, which was overrun by thousands of rebels the previous day. Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte remains under the regime's control and a Scud missile fired from there has raised the possibility of a desperate final stand.

Does catching Muammar Gaddafi matter?

It does to the rebel council which announced an £800,000 reward for Gaddafi's capture. In addition, the head of the council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, offered an amnesty to anyone from the Gaddafi entourage who killed or captured him.

How quickly can a government be put in place?

A leadership vacuum even for a few hours after the downfall of the Gaddafi regime could be the difference between a calm transition and a slide into chaotic lawlessness, according to a report from Chatham House.

Will the TNC have legitimacy?

It largely depends on how quickly it can restore services and jobs to an economy that has been badly hit by months of war. The rebels' war tactic was to cut off supplies to Tripoli - that policy will have to be reversed to get the population onside.

Can there be peace in the country to allow rebuilding?

After the ousting of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, the respected armies were able to keep the peace. But in Libya the military was deliberately kept small, says Jan Randolph, director of sovereign risk at the analyst IHS. Forces loyal to the regime are dwindling.

Will it have the money to rebuild?

It needs it. A shortage of funds is a major issue for any new governing body seeking legitimacy - and it is starting from a very low base. Muammar Gaddafi ensured that all major decisions went through him during his 42 years of dictatorship. "There were no functioning institutions of the state to start with so you're almost starting from scratch," said Marwan al-Muasher, a former deputy prime minister of Jordan.

What happens to the oil industry?

It was pumping out about 1.5 million barrels of oil a day before the start of the Arab Spring - even one-third of that would lead to a huge financial boost, points out Dr Alexis Crow of Chatham House. One senior TNC figure said yesterday that it would honour its contracts with oil companies signed during the Gaddafi era.

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