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Libyan business leaders fear chaos after Gaddafi regime

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim says he will personally pick up his AK-47 if he has to. “When it comes down to it, we will all take our guns and Kalashnikovs and fight,” he said at a news conference last week.

world Updated: Jun 06, 2011 22:02 IST

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim says he will personally pick up his AK-47 if he has to. “When it comes down to it, we will all take our guns and Kalashnikovs and fight,” he said at a news conference last week.

Government scare-mongering perhaps — but rhetoric that worries some business leaders from Libya and the West, who fear for the future of this divided North African country if Gaddafi no longer is in power.

“Our biggest problem even if Gaddafi goes will be the tribal conflicts, which will continue the fighting,” said an American energy executive who declined to be named to protect his investments in Libya. “For all of the companies waiting to resume operations in Libya, it looks like it will be a long wait. Even if the Gaddafi regime falls, the civil war in Libya will continue.”

Foreign businesses sometimes value stability above human rights, and many ordinary Libyans say that anything short of Gaddafi’s departure would be a betrayal after 41 years of repression at his hands. But foreigners’ fears are shared by some Libyan business leaders, who say the West needs to do more to promote peace and dialogue instead of simply war.

“If Gaddafi leaves tomorrow, it will be blood, up to here,” said Abdulatif Teer, general manager of Saba Consulting & Engineering Services in Tripoli, pointing to his knees. “The international community should help us solve our problems peacefully, through dialogue”.

One concern in many people’s minds is that the West has left little room for a face-saving exit for Gaddafi,” making it very likely that the colonel will fight to the last bullet.

“He is not a quitter, and his pride is more important than anything else," said Pierre Bonnard, a business consultant who has been visiting Libya since 2003 and is trying to promote a peaceful solution to the crisis on behalf of two French oil firms.

“We need to talk a little bit more about peace and a little less about war,” said Noman Benotman, a former Libyan Islamist militant who renounced violence and is an analyst with the Quillam Foundation, a London think-tank. “We need to start talking about a state-building mission. We need to be clear that in the Libya of the future, no one will be executed.”


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