Rhein on Energy and Climate

Since the Libyan uprising began on February 17th in Tripoli – with the massacre of a delegation from Benghazi demanding more freedom and participation in government – the situation for Ghaddafi and his entourage has gotten worse and worse. The UNSEC resolution and the terrifying air strikes on military positions around Tripoli have started undermining the morale of the Ghaddafi camp, whose numbers continue to shrink due to defections. Today, living conditions in the Libyan capital (with a population of 1.5 million people) have become close to unbearable. The political atmosphere is marked by fear and insecurity. Nobody trusts anybody. Ghaddafi and the ever smaller number of people defending him – because they are forced to (or being well-paid for the job) – are getting closer and closer to a state of paranoia typical of a “fin-de-regime” mood.

The population avoids going out onto the streets. Men do not dare to walk or drive with other men for fear they might be picked up by security people and beaten to death. Early morning and late evening prayers (as well as Friday prayers) are banned because they might degenerate into anti-regime demonstrations. The national TV transmissions have become a farce. The population relies on Al Jazeira and similar channels for getting informed about what is going on in the country. All telephone connections are being monitored for whatever intelligence they can still produce. Economically, the Western part of the country has come to a grinding halt.

  • Oil production has stopped. Fuel is becoming scarcer every day as the queues at filling stations demonstrate. It’s only a matter of time before power stations totally dependent on fuel will have to cut electricity, at least temporarily, with dire consequences for daily life, including water supply.
  • Local currency, which has lost about half its value since the start of the revolution, is becoming scarce. The government has to fall back on its foreign exchange cash.
  • The salaries for March have not yet been entirely paid.
  • Food is getting scarce and available only at soaring prices.

At the same time the external pressure is being reinforced. The US foreign Secretary has once again told Mr. Ghaddafi that he has no chance of surviving politically. Time is working against him and his regime.. The opposition forces can quietly step up their political and military strengths to squeeze Ghaddafi`s mercenaries and finally force them to surrender. It is thus only a question of when and how Gaddafi will fall; considering the deteriorating situation on the ground his fall is likely to be a mater of weeks rather than months. The EU should therefore focus on two priorities: emergency assistance – and in particular medical support – for the civilian population, and preparatory work for an interim government that might take over and prepare the road for a constitution and democratic elections by early 2012.

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