Libya: Openness is Tricky

American pressure recently secured the release of a Middle Eastern democracy campaigner who, after speaking out again, was promptly silenced by his government. Could this be happening in one of the states of the ‘axis of evil’? No, it’s our new-found friend, Libya. Whilst all eyes are on the economy, is it possible that the west isn’t paying enough attention to political reform? And is there a danger this will fuel the propaganda of Islamist extremists?

The World Today Published 1 June 2004 Updated 16 October 2020 4 minute READ

Alison Pargeter

Research Fellow, Mediterranean Security Programme, Centre for Defence Studies, King's College London

Colonel Muammar Qadhafi pitched his tent in Brussels on his first official visit to Europe in fifteen years and the US has finally eased economic sanctions, suggesting that Libya’s rehabilitation is almost complete.

Since the Colonel announced last December that he was abandoning his weapons of mass destruction programmes, relations with the west have been going from strength to strength.

Libya’s efforts at cooperation certainly seem to have paid off. British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited in March, Qadhafi made his Brussels visit in April and the same month the Libyans got what they had been after for years – the easing of sanctions, enabling American firms to compete for lucrative energy contracts.

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