By Padraig O'Hannelly.
Is Libya a failing state? Considering the long list of problems to be overcome, many outside the country believe that it is, but one has to consider the context.
If an established, stable and successful country found that it was unable to prevent unaccountable groups from cutting off essential services and exports, then the state could be said to have failed. Some would cite the United Kingdom in the late 1970s as an example.
But Libya is coming from a different starting point. When CNN's Christiane Amanpour posed this question to Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan some days ago, his answer was clear:
"Libya is not a failing state. The state of Libya doesn't exist yet. We are trying to create a state. And we are not ashamed of that.
"The outside world believes that Libya is failing, but Libya was destroyed by Gaddafi for 42 years and was destroyed by a full year of civil war. And that's why we are trying to rebuild it."
His point is valid, and allowance must be made for the fact that the Libyan people have come through a very traumatic period. But time moves on, and unless the central government can gain control of the country soon, observers will start to take an even less favourable view of Libya and its government.