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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 19,131     71
     
GNI per capita
 US $ n/a n/a
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 050 - (30/01/08)

Libya Tackles Migration…amid Curious Rumors
In January, Libya having secured closer relationships to Europe and wanting to play a bigger role in a Mediterranean political – economic arrangement proposed by France’s president Sarkozy, has tackled the problem of migration with greater impetus. Libya has given itself a month to expel all illegal migrants. The European Union (EU) countries with shores on the Mediterranean have long complained that many irregular migrants from all over Africa leave from the Libyan coast. In fact, Libya has often adopted sudden and harsh deportation or confinement measures against African migrants, despite Libya’s pretensions of leading African countries into a Union. Nevertheless, this time Libya appears more determined to challenge the illegal migration problem. The collection and deportation of all illegal migrants, estimated of numbering some two million, has started “without exception” said the Libyan administration. Libya’s government has instructed housing authorities to destroy migrants' makeshift homes on the outskirts of Tripoli and other coastal cities. While some international humanitarian agencies like Amnesty International and UNHCR have expressed concern over the move, citing mostly the failure of the Libyan government to distinguish between asylum seekers and ‘economic’ migrants. Italy, which is the main destination for many of the migrants, and other EU countries are likely satisfied that Libya has decided to tackle the problem.

Italy recently signed an accord with Libya to try to seal the Mediterranean. The accord provides for the Libyan military departments to receive training and joint patrolling arrangements. Apart from European pressure, Libya has internal motivations to tackle the problem of illegal immigrants. Libyan officials and average citizens blame migrants for spreading crime and reducing employment opportunities for young Libyans. Reuters reported that Mohamed El-Lamoushi, head of the information department at the Libyan prime minister's office, insisted that the expulsion of migrants was “an internal Libyan matter” and that Libya would fill any labor needs from external sources through accords Libya had recently signed with labor-exporting countries. Foreigners who want to enter Libya must have legal papers and documents. El-Lamoushi noted that Libya has signed agreements with African, Arab and Asian countries to make the labor available on demand. The problem of illegal migration increased in the 1990’s, when under stress from international sanctions and low oil prices, it sought and needed cheap labor to help sustain the economy. The current illegal migration has been fueled by the revival of large construction projects and public works resulting from high oil revenues. 

Odd Rumors: perhaps Israeli disinformation?
Meanwhile, while Libya continues its drive to curb irregular migration, a curious report has been spreading concerning Seif ul-Islam al-Qadhafi. Even as many believe Seif is the chosen successor to lead Libya, he has been implicated in a group of foreign and Iraqi fighters responsible for explosions in northern Iraq, according to a security chief for Sunni tribesmen who rose up against foreign islamist fighters (“al-Qa'ida”). The tribesmen have accused the young Qadhafi of being behind a blast that killed at least 38 people, wounding another 225, on January 23 in a Mosul slum. The next day, a suicide bomber killed the provincial police chief and two other officers as they surveyed the blast site. Mosul military officials accused the Seifaddin Regiment, made up of about 150 foreign and Iraqi fighters who slipped into the country several months ago from Syria, of perpetrating the attack, adding that Seif al-Islam al-Qadhafi was leader of the group. The accusing officer, one Colonel Naief, insisted on the veracity of his claims, which came from reliable sources “maintained by his Anbar Awakening Council within the ranks of al-Qa'ida in Mosul and elsewhere”. The US military did not comment on Colonel Naief's claim. 

The claim of Libyan involvement is not out of the question. The Washington Post recently reported that US military commanders had recognized a more important role played by North African fighters in suicide and other bombing attacks inside Iraq. The US military officials also said that 19% of the foreign fighters in Iraq came from Libya, that is almost half of the 40% of foreign fighters believed to come from North Africa. However, the claim that Seif ul-Islam is behind the attacks is very odd. Saif Ul-Islam, Qadhafi's eldest son from his second wife, has played the role of the ‘heir apparent’, having also been touted as the figure that most actively pursued Libya’s international rehabilitation. Seif has a progressive image, he heads a Qadhafi foundation for external aid which, has also helped release hostages and, in as diplomatic and veiled a tone as possible, effectively criticized Libya over the Bulgarian nurses debacle a year before the medics were released, earning praise for his own role in securing their release.

In other words, Seif al-Islam, seems an unlikely figure as a sponsor of terrorism. Indeed, Colonel Naief was unable to explain how or why Seif ul-Islam would sponsor a group of fighters in Iraq. One possible explanation is that the story has been widely peddled by Debka-file, an Israeli-based website, well known for spreading odd stories and potentially a vehicle for disinformation.. Debka-file proffered an explanation for Seif ul Islam’s alleged patronage of terrorism but the logic does justice to the website’s dubious reputation. It holds that Seif became angry at his father because, it is alleged, his father has chosen his younger brother, Mutasim-Billah, as the true successor. In retaliation, Seif began sponsoring this terrorist regiment in Iraq. The story gets better, as also according to Debka, Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak and U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice prefer Mutasim-Billah, which prompted the Colonel to honor this requests. 

It is rather curious that a story (with such short legs), would receive so much media attention, even as the very same media has reported on Seif ul-Islam’s role in working toward Libya’s rapprochement with the United States. The motivation for the story might well be that Syria vetoed a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning the launch of Qassam, home made rockets, from Gaza to Israel. Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman had criticized the UN humanitarian affairs chief on Thursday for failing to acknowledge the suffering caused by Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza. The UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs John Holmes had earlier criticized Israel's decision to shut all border crossings with Gaza had led to a humanitarian crisis and was "collective punishment" for its 1.5 million people. 

Oil News
Libya Expects important investment from the UAE toward an oil refinery. Two UAE companies announced they would invest about USD1 billion to renovate and upgrade Libya’s biggest oil refinery situated at Ras Lanuf. National Oil Corporation (NOC) of Libya has formed a consortium with UAE's TransAsia Gas International and Star Petro Energy to renovate the export refinery in a 50-50 joint venture. Currently, the refinery processes 220,000 barrels per day. The agreement provides for a five year plan envisaging an increase of capacity and marketing, while the later phases are expected to expand the refinery and introduce new technology for converting fuel oil into high-value foodstuffs.

    

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