Saturday, August 22, 2009
Gaddafi's Clown Show
Libya is in the news these last few days after the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdul Basset Ali al-Megrahi. Amir Taheri provides a scathing account of Gaddafi's authoritarian regime. Taheri paints a gloomy picture of a mismanaged and corrupt political system, which over the last 40 years, has squandered billions of dollars in oil revenue: "Over the past 40 years the colonel has had something like a trillion dollars in oil revenues to play with. That much money could have done wonders in a nation of four or five million. However, visitors to Libya would be struck by the rundown aspect of public infrastructure and the widespread poverty. A few new buildings in the capital Tripoli may impress some Westerners. Elsewhere, however, many Libyans live in substandard homes and experience daily power cuts, water rationing and frequent shortages of staple foodstuffs. Parts of Benghazi resemble slums in black Africa, not neighbourhoods in the second-largest city in an oil-rich country. In neighbouring Malta, one often runs into Libyan refugees begging in the streets."