Long lines formed outside gas stations and supermarket shelves were emptying Friday amid signs that the week-old no-fly zone and naval blockade against Libya are beginning to take a toll on the country’s economy.
In several neighborhoods of the city, motorists lined up for half a mile outside closed gas stations, indicating a sudden dramatic shortage of fuel in the oil-rich country. Food prices are soaring, storekeepers said, as warehouses run out of stock.
According to one grocer, supplies of fresh produce are depleted, mainly because the Egyptian migrant workers who till the fields have fled the country. Prices have risen by half, he said.
The value of the Libyan dinar has collapsed, indicating a shortage of hard currency following the imposition of financial sanctions by the United States, the European Union and others in recent weeks. The Security Council resolution that authorized military intervention in Libya also imposed economic sanctions, the most far-reaching on any country since those applied to Iraq before the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
If a stalemate continues and there is no regime change, these measures will starve the economy, said David Cortright, a scholar at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University and one of the country s leading experts on U.N. sanctions. Sooner or later, and probably sooner, Libya will begin to face internal economic difficulties, and therefore, humanitarian difficulties.
Many shops have remained closed since the failed uprising in the capital last month that was brutally crushed by security forces loyal to the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.
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