In the wake of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s death, I posted an article on CNN.com this morning analyzing Libya’s economic and political prospects. I argue that of all the Arab countries affected by the region’s upheaval, Libya has the brightest economic outlook. It has a small, well-educated population and large reserves of oil. At the same time, its political challenges are formidable, including an absence of effective institutions and a strong distrust of government. Tensions are flaring between Islamists and secularists and between rebels who stayed and fought and more technocratic leaders who have returned from exile. There are also questions about how women, minorities, and former members of Qaddafi’s government will fare in the new order.
The piece sparked vigorous debate among those commenting on CNN.com. Many express strong doubts that democracy can take hold in Libya. And indeed, democracy is all too rare in the Arab world, with no good models for Libyans to follow. But I am not willing to write off the chance that a stable and democratic Libya can emerge. With its talented people and a treasury flush with cash, Libya certainly has a shot.
You can read the CNN.com post here. I look forward to your thoughts.