When US and European authorities announced they had frozen access to Libya's overseas assets - including its $70bn sovereign wealth fund - implicit in the move was the assumption that the freeze would thaw when a new, recognised government took power. As the post-Gaddafi administration assumes power, the international community is mulling the challenges involved in opening up the country's frozen assets to the transitional government.

In short, the process will not be simple or quick, many have warned. Analysts expect authorities in the West to wait until the proposed transition government demonstrates democratic and human rights-friendly credentials before giving it access to tens of billions in liquid bank deposits and even more in strategic assets.

As has been shown in Egypt, there is no guarantee transitional authorities will avoid their own brand of authoritarianism; the behaviour of the Transitional National Council (TNC) in the coming weeks will set the tone for how quickly and unconditionally Libya's overseas assets will be made available.

And from the TNC perspective, that moment needs to come sooner, rather than later. With oil production expected to take years to return to 2010 levels, the TNC will need money fast to spend on the basic building blocks of stability. Said Hirsh, Middle East Economist at Capital Economics, argues a more equitable distribution of the country's wealth will sow the seeds of political stability in post-revolution Libya as it has been in counter-revolutionary Saudi Arabia:

Overall, provided that the financial resources are managed correctly, we think that Libya’s interim government can pacify the tribes (and indeed other interest groups) through a more equal distribution of wealth, which is likely to improve the country’s political climate.

China's state news service, Xinhua, said on Tuesday that the country is "ready to cooperate with the international community to play a proactive role in the reconstruction of Libya", while stressing it hopes the TNC will respect the almost $20bn worth of pre-existing Chinese investment projects under way in the country, deals, of course, negotiated with the Gaddafi regime.

Libya's former central bank chief - who defected and joined the rebels in May - said on Tuesday that the central bank holds more than $100bn in reserves, without going into detail on the nature of the holdings. On Monday, Daniel Serwer of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies told a Council on Foreign Relations conference call that remnants of the Gaddafi regime - or simple opportunists - were likely to be hard at work trying to plunder those reserves.

"I can guarantee you that someone right now is trying to privatize assets from the Libyan Central Bank," he said. "This is not just pretty criminality that is going on, this is the dismantling of the Libyan state."

It will be interesting to see how closely the reserve numbers quoted by the former central bank chief - who was familiar with the figures up until his departure in May - matches up with what the TNC find left in the bank when they assume full control.

See also:
Rebels close in on Gaddafi compound - FT
Imagining Libya, a Decade from Now - Foreign Policy
Lessons of the Libyan Endgame - NYT
Sunday in the Middle East: the first Arab revolution - FT Tilt
Bluffer's guide to Libya's economic prospects - FT Tilt
Coverage of Libya - FT Tilt