With rebel forces routing out the final remnants of Qaddafi's regime, it appears as though the Libyan civil war has reached its end game. To avoid the violent chaos or return to autocracy that follows so many revolutions, Middle East professor Juan Cole has advocated that the new Free Libyan government turn to solar power. Cole argues that building up an alternative energy sector could put Libyans to work, utilize currently unprofitable stretches of Libya's vast desert, and help wean the country off of an undiversified petroleum economy.
Not only would this help Libya, but it could prove a useful model for Egypt and Tunisia, who also need increased employment and revenue to prevent their revolutions from devolving into chaos. For their part, European countries like Germany have both begun to shy away from nuclear power and faced problems with the importation of Russian oil and natural gas, making solar energy from across the Mediterranean a more attractive solution than ever before.
It's not the first time someone has proposed this. Before this year's tumult, the Libyan government had already unveiled plans for a $3 billion energy hub that would route solar power to Europe. Egypt has a similar program brewing 56 miles south of Cairo in Kuraymat.
If there's one thing Arab countries have in common, it's a lot of sun, and a lot of desert otherwise sitting around uselessly. By developing a solar power industry, the countries of the Arab Spring could help diversify their income, stabilize their political situations, generate revenue, work to reduce climate change, help Europe move to green energy, and put their newly free people to work. That's a lot of birds to kill with only one stone.