“Libya’s Eastern City: If Only the Bombs Would Go Away…”
The Economist, April 19-25, 2014, pp.42-43
“Three years after the uprising that began in Libya’s second city [Benghazi], the city is being pulled in several directions—not all of them backwards. Grim aspects are plain to see, especially the city’s lack of security. It often echoes to the sound of gunfire and explosions. Earlier this month a hairdresser’s shop and a café were bombed. There has been a spate of assassinations. … The security vacuum has led to the rise of extreme Islamist groups flying the black flag of jihad over mosques and streets in some of the city’s rougher districts and painting it on walls. American drones are often seen and heard over the city. Yet Benghazians have a good story to tell, too. Their economy has bounced back. Neglected under Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule, businesses and buildings are springing up. A new shopping mall is packed with families buying clothes and cosmetics from shops with European franchises. People sip cappuccinos in trendy cafés. A once-drab road known as Venice Street hosts scores of ebullient retailers selling international brands. Cranes dot the city’s skyline. … Passenger numbers arriving at its rudimentary airport have doubled to 2m a year. Many of those flying in are from Libya’s diaspora, whose financial clout has helped resurrect private business.”
Quickie analysis: An interesting look at the duality of fear and hope in Benghazi.