The tragic and dramatic events at the Amenas gas plant in Algeria, which led to the deaths of scores of foreign hostages, could have serious implications for neighbouring Libya.
According to Britain's Telegraph newspaper, most of the weapons used by the al Qaeda-linked militants came from Libya. These included AK104 Kalashnikovs, 60mm gun-mortars and F5 rockets, all widely used by Libyan rebels in the February revolution.
Some attackers also wore the same "chocolate chip" camouflage outfits that Qatar provided to Libyan National Transitional Council rebels, and several sources also claim the attackers may have trained in jihadist camps in southern Libya.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has warned that the fight against terrorism in north Africa could go on for decades. He may be right, but the course of events is extremely difficult to predict. Just days ago, for example, 2012 was proclaimed as Algeria’s calmest year of the last decade, with the suggestion that al Qaeda would remain on the back foot due to improved intelligence and monitoring. Suddenly, that situation changed.
Forecasts of a decades-long struggle against the militants could be equally unfounded. If the Libyan authorities succeed in maintaining control and attracting investment, it's just possible that a prosperous, confident and internationally-engaged Libya could become a beacon for other states in the region.