Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Libya in a different position from other North African countries

The problems of the North African regimes and the related conflicts have given rise to the creation of profound instability. Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt are all in crisis, with indigenous unrest and opposition to their regimes. When Sudan's imminent break up is taken into account, together with the continuing Western Sahara conflict for Morocco, the entire region must seem unfavourable for foreign investment and development.

Libya is, however, in a different position. Security is being maintained at a high level inside the country and the regime's overseas opponents are political and financially very weak.

The current signs are that the regime will survive the crisis given the strength of both its security services and finances. It is able to be flexible in dealing with the individual difficulties arising from the price of foodstuffs, which can easily be subsidised, while the people's poverty can be alleviated by increased allocations from the Wealth Distribution Programme. At the same time, any shortage of funds for development can easily be cured by releasing finance from the State treasury.

There has been no hint of any Libyan antagonism against foreigners and especially those who are not directly competing for work with the local workforce. Doubtless, security will be tightened until the struggle for power in Egypt is resolved. The movement of foreigners will also be monitored by the police, and roadblocks will become part of the standard pattern of traffic control.

International movements will also tend to be subject to greater scrutiny than usual. Overall, Libya could survive the present shocks without great damage but the unpredictable cannot be discounted.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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