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What Next on Libya?

Where does Libya go from here?

Peter Apps from Reuters filed this report:

Libya's new leaders and their foreign allies face the daunting task of restoring order, beginning reconstruction and avoiding collapse into conflict and chaos.

Giving the provisional government access to Libya's frozen era funds and restoring oil exports will be key to what the West hopes will be a largely self-financing reconstruction, but there are a host of other immediate challenges.

The rapid rebel advance on Tripoli, supported by NATO airstrikes -- and perhaps advisers on the ground -- looks to have taken many by surprise. Now the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), foreign governments, oil firms, aid groups and a host of other players must frantically race to catch up. ...

Infrastructure will also need repair -- and not just to fix damage from air strikes. While Gaddafi spent millions on roads, hotels and other projects, much of Libya remains undeveloped.

Easterners in particular feel deprived. Redressing their grievances without worsening east-west tension will be delicate.

Restoring oil exports swiftly would help fund reconstruction and getting the wider economy moving -- crucial if the rebel leadership is to retain legitimacy and avoid new unrest.

The NTC is keen to project an image of continuity, with its official in charge of reconstruction telling Reuters ... the new government would honour all Gaddafi-era oil contracts, including those with Chinese and Russian companies.

Howard LaFranchi examines what NATO's role will be now that the anti-Qaddafi forces have largely taken control of the country:

The shift in the rebels' fortunes puts NATO in a new and tricky position. But there are also advantages to the rebel forces ending any remaining ambiguities about who is running Libya, says Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif.

"If the rebels persist in hitting armed Qaddafi supporters while keeping civilian casualties to a minimum, then this can become the final phase of the revolution and a force for closure," he says. "Where it becomes problematic is if it creates a humanitarian crisis - for example, if they started indiscriminately bombing Sirte."

So what conclusions can be drawn? My colleague Tom Nichols sums it up at his new blog, the The War Room:

The Libyan operation has gone about as well as could be hoped for -- so why is everyone so glum? Yes, reconstruction will be hard. There are, and will continue to be, revenge killings. Infrastructure in an already poor country will take months to restore. Innocent people have died, and more will join them.
 
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