Belmont Club

Changing Faces

Al Jazeera notes that in 10 months, 4 of the heads of state in this picture have fallen from power. (hat tip: SH)

"Cheese"

Reuters notes that European oil company stocks, notbly ENI and TOTAL have soared in anticipation that oil production in Libya will be restored to its former levels.

The dividends across the Atlantic promise to be political. President Obama is about to go before the microphones at Martha’s Vineyard to discuss developments in Libya. He may claim credit for ousting the Duck of Death. But he ought to hedge his bets. Peters Apps, a political risk correspondent at Reuters writes that “NATO air power might have won Libya’s war and ousted Muammar Gaddafi, but any expectations that might automatically usher in a nakedly pro-western government could prove wide of the mark.” The new leaders have already started sounding cool to suggestions of a long-term NATO presence and are more interested in finding the best price and terms for their oil.

Italy is trying to get back in as top dog, but it may soon be in a bidding war with Chinese and Russian salesmen who often shown themselves persuasive in Third World situations.

Libya’s rebels have already signalled reluctance to allow any permanent NATO troop presence — although it is not clear whether any Western states would have wanted one anyway. But the real interest, as ever, will be in oil and money.

By Monday afternoon, with firefights still taking place on the streets of Tripoli, the post-war jockeying was clearly starting. China and Russia, until recently critics of Western action in support of the rebels, swiftly moved to recognise them as the legitimate government.

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