Hvorfor er verden så tafatt og stille overfor blodbadet i Libya? Ett svar kan være olje. Libya er steinrikt, selv om Gaddafi ikke lar den komme befolkningen til gode.

On Friday night Mohammed El-Berqawy, an engineer in Benghazi, reported on Al Jazeera that «tens of people are dying in Benghazi today.» «The wall of fear has come down,» he shouted in the telephone on air, in a tearful account of the mayhem in the Mediterranean port city. «Where is the United Nations? Did Gaddafi bribe them with his millions?»

El-Berqawy’s question hits at a crucial hurdle for anyone seeking to end Gaddafi’s rule: Libya’s immense wealth. With 30 billion barrels of oil reserves in the country — nearly $3 trillion worth at current world prices — Gaddafi is sitting on a mountain of cash. Libya’s vast foreign reserves, estimated at about $160 billion, have barely dipped during the global recession. About 100 oil companies, including Chevron and ExxonMobil, have poured into the country since U.S. sanctions against Libya ended in 2006. Just as the first protests were kicking off last week, the Russian energy giant Gazprom signed a major gas deal in Libya.

And so far, the huge influx of new wealth into Libya has not created a new middle class demanding rights that threatens Gaddafi’s rule. Yet it has caused deep divisions within Libya’s top officials — and even within Gaddafi’s own family. That could offer anti-government protesters their best shot at unseating Gaddafi, and ending his bizarre governing style of ruling through Revolutionary Committees.

Gaddafi’s second son Saif al-Islam is the West’s clear favorite to succeed his father, and has strongly pushed a liberal, open economy and greater personal freedoms — evoking the wrath of his brother Motassam, who is Libya’s national security adviser, and occasionally angering his father too. When I visited Saif at home in Tripoli last year, he told me that Libyans wanted Western-style human rights. «If you are against that, you are an idiot.»

Saif’s emerging power has resulted in his political allies pushing for greater political openness; those include Libya’s crucial oil chief, Shokri Ghonem, a close ally of Saif.

But in an interview in Tripoli last year, Ghonem said many officials would fight against giving citizens greater political rights. «There are a lot of people for whom reform is not in their personal interest,» he told me. «It will not be a walk in the park.» With the bloodshed already this week, Ghonem’s remark looks like a prescient warning.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2052770,00.html#ixzz1ERRdxqM7

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