As the Libyan rebels take Gaddafi’s compound, attention is inevitably shifting to the country’s post-conflict future, both internally – in terms of physical reconstruction and political transition – and externally, in the new Libya’s relations with the rest of the world.
One question that won’t be far from many government’s minds is that of access to Libyan oil. Before the conflict began, the country was responsible for about two percent of global production, and while it could be up to a year before output is back to normal, the international manoeuvring has already begun. China, as the Guardian reported yesterday, is seeking to sure up its energy deals and investments in the country, worried that the rebels might not look favourably on states that didn’t support them.
Beijing certainly has a vested interest in getting on good terms with the next rulers of Tripoli. But, as this
The collapse of the Gaddafi regime – although not yet complete – should be a source of satisfaction but not complacency. Libya’s rebels may win the battle of Tripoli, but it is not certain that they can establish stability, security and normality without outside help. Frequent reports of extra-judicial killings and disorder in rebel-held Benghazi have not inspired confidence.
Luckily, outside help is forthcoming. The next weeks will see international officials (and no doubt a lot of spooks) hurry to Tripoli with offers of assistance. Months ago, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed a Special Adviser on Post-Conflict Planning on Libya to prepare for this moment. The adviser, Ian Martin (who I previously had the privilege of working with on a review of the UN’s political missions) has had time to make detailed plans. While European governments and EU officials will want to play
Since the beginning of the Greek crisis last year, Germans have tended to explain the European single currency’s problems in terms of a difference between a fiscally-responsible north and a fiscally-irresponsible south. Although all eurozone countries including Germany are to blame for the flaws in the construction of the single currency that have now become apparent, and although German banks arguably helped create excessive sovereign debt through irresponsible lending, Germans have tended to see the euro crisis in cultural terms. It seems as if Germans see the crisis in terms of a kind of European “clash of civilisations”.
What Germany has feared above all is the emergence of a “transfer union” – in other words, an EU in which fiscally responsible member states (e.g. Germany) pay for fiscally irresponsible member states (e.g. Greece). However, as the crisis has developed over the
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Recently, I spoke at a conference on ‘Europe’s Common Security and Defence Policy, ethics and moral values’, organised by the Institute for Higher National Defence Studies in Brussels. By far the most powerful speaker that I heard at that event was Waddah Al Jord, a Paris-based Syrian. This economic adviser and journalist has, in the last few months, been moved to human rights activism in his efforts to turn the international community’s attention to Assad’s violent crackdown in Syria.
His calm, factual presentation of the desperate plight of those out demonstrating on the streets in his country was humbling. There was a deafening, uncomfortable silence around the conference centre in response to his question of why Europe and the US could not reflect their supposed values in taking a stronger position against the grave abuses that the Syrian government is carrying out against its
George Soros wrote in Handelsblatt this week that the fate of Europe depends on Germany. That sentence resonates heavily if you are a German. Yet the political willingness of Germany to boost the economic integration of Europe through the introduction of Eurobonds also depends on the good fiscal behaviour of other EU countries. Only this might create the political room in Germany to move towards Eurobonds (which obviously are not a panacea). Germany cannot jump into Eurobonds before getting guarantees that the others won’t fool around with their finances – to do so would be economically dangerous (a ‘poison pill’ according to chief economist of Deutsche Bank, Thomas Mayer, in an interview with German news radio DLF) and politically infeasible, as the FDP, the smaller coalition partner, vociferously argues (including Minister for economics Philipp Rösler).
Tragedy comes when both
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