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Cyrus Bina 300

Cyrus Bina is a professor of economics at the U of M Morris and has studied the political and economic developments in several Middle East countries, including Libya.

Oil no longer cements Qaddafi's rule in Libya, U of M Morris economist says

February 23, 2011

A new Arab dictator seems to be losing power every week. Next in line is Libya’s Col. Moammar Qaddafi, a notorious nemesis to the United States. A University of Minnesota, Morris expert who can discuss Qaddafi’s challenged reign is:

Cyrus Bina, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics and Management

Bina says Libya is a country held hostage by Qaddafi for more than four decades. “Qaddafi’s success as a ruler was exclusively based on income from oil, which then disbursed among a selected group of cronies, although sometimes was given to the domestic population at large in order to neutralize social unrest throughout 1980s and 1990s,” Bina says. “A high percentage of the population under 30, combined with the exposure of the entire society to the global sea change created a de facto demonstration effect for Libyan society today.” Bina says Libya's oil economy, which used to buy loyalty, appears to have hit the dead end.

Taking a broad look at the North Africa and Persian Gulf region, Bina says there are essentially four to five components to the sequential uprisings:

1. The continuous political repression by all these regimes for a long time;
2. The cumulative effects of economic mismanagement and squandering of the national wealth by these self-appointed dictators;
3. Globalization and the speedy spread of information through the Internet and telecommunication;
4. The disproportional growth of unemployment among the youth in all these countries in the region, which consists of up to 45 percent of the population.

“Now, if one adds another crucial factor, namely, U.S. intervention on behalf of some of these dictators in the region, plus humiliation caused by a decade of U.S. invasion (e.g., Iraq and Afghanistan), one has an explosive situation that would devastate the status quo to its core,” Bina says. “The Arab street is not going to be the same as before.”

Bina is a member of Economists for Peace and Security. He is the author of “The Economics of the Oil Crisis” and co-editor of “Modern Capitalism and Islamic Ideology in Iran.” His forthcoming book, “Oil: A Time Machine -- Journey Beyond Fanciful Economics and Frightful Politics,” will be released this spring.

To interview Bina, contact Jeff Falk, University News Service, or (612) 626-1720.

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