Q. What threat remains from the Gaddafi regime?
A. A considerable one. Pro-regime snipers cut off the road to Tripoli's airport yesterday and launched repeated attacks on Gaddafi's compound, which was overrun by thousands of rebels the previous day. Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte remains under the regime's control and a Scud missile fired from there has raised the possibility of a desperate final stand. In 2003, the dictator agreed to abandon his efforts to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as part of a deal to mend relations with the West. Sensitive material and design documents were confiscated, and chemical weapons research centres were closed. But the destruction of 23 tonnes of mustard gas started last year and was only partially completed. Officials were concerned about the security of 11 tonnes of gas, but a British Embassy spokesman said the stocks were "under guard in secure and remote locations".
Q. Does catching Muammar Gaddafi matter?
A. It certainly does to the rebel council which announced a £800,000 reward for Gaddafi's capture. In addition, the head of the council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, offered an amnesty to anyone from the Gaddafi entourage who killed or captured him. It would be a major psychological blow for the rebel leadership, which was embarrassed by the escape of Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, after trumpeting his arrest. However, the rebel campaign has been marked by regional and leadership splits – and any unit that does capture Gaddafi would have a powerful, and potentially destabilising, claim to influence in the new leadership.
Q. How quickly can a government be put in place?
A. A leadership vacuum even for a few hours after the downfall of the Gaddafi regime could be the difference between a calm transition and a slide into chaotic lawlessness, according to a report from Chatham House. The Transitional National Council (TNC), a broad-based coalition that united to bring down the regime, has drawn up a 37-point framework for the period of transition. It calls for a permanent constitution to be drawn up within 20 months. After that, presidential and parliamentary elections would be held. But taking it from paper to practice is the hard part.
Q. Will the TNC have legitimacy?
A. It largely depends on how quickly it can restore services and jobs to an economy that has been badly hit by months of war. The rebels' war tactic was to cut off supplies to Tripoli – that policy will have to be reversed to get the population onside. The transitional leadership has already taken steps to restore electricity, supply food and medicines, and secure oil facilities. But, while groups united to fight Gaddafi, there were splits between rival factions: the Misrata rebels who fought ferociously under siege and the fighters who swept down from the mountains in the west to take the capital have not been unified under the Benghazi-based TNC. The regime also sought to exploit rifts between Islamist and secular members of the governing body.
Q. Can there be peace in the country to allow a rebuilding effort?
A. After the ousting of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, the respected armies were able to keep the peace. But, in Libya, the military was deliberately kept small, says Jan Randolph, director of sovereign risk at the analyst IHS. Forces loyal to the regime are dwindling. Mr Randolph advocated the TNC asking UN forces to keep the peace in urban areas until a new leadership was able to retain control. "The police were fairly apolitical and were not involved in excess of regime oppression. They could be brought back on to the streets quite easily," says Mr Smith of Control Risks. The fear is that the country will descend into lawlessness akin to that seen in Iraq. Though unlike Iraq – where neighbouring Iran played a significant role in stoking unrest – the TNC has been supported by the Arab League. And the early signs in Tripoli are that communal violence has been avoided.
Q. Will it have the money to rebuild?
A. It needs it. A shortage of funds is a major issue for any new governing body seeking legitimacy – and it is starting from a very low base. Muammar Gaddafi ensured that all major decisions went through him during his 42 years of dictatorship. "There were no functioning institutions of the state to start with so you're almost starting from scratch," said Marwan al-Muasher, a former deputy prime minister of Jordan. One of the TNC's biggest concerns is that foreign nations will be too slow to unfreeze billions of dollars of assets, leading to a breakdown of services. Western leaders will take up the issue of releasing frozen Libyan assets at a meeting today in Istanbul. The US said on Tuesday it would seek to release between $1bn and $1.5bn of frozen Libyan assets to the rebels within days. But the key to future wealth is to kick-start its oil business.
Q. What happens to the oil industry?
A. It was pumping out about 1.5 million barrels of oil a day before the start of the Arab Spring — even one third of that would lead to a huge financial boost, points out Dr Alexis Crow of Chatham House. One senior TNC figure said yesterday that it would honour its contracts with oil companies signed during the Gaddafi era. It followed comments by the rebel-controlled Arabian Gulf Oil Company that existing contracts should be revisited, particularly with countries that did not back the rebellion. Mr Randolph said BP and Total would be well-positioned for new contracts. But Global Witness said that no new oil concessions should be granted until after an election to prevent exploitation of the country's natural resources.Reuse content