The suspension of UN sanctions in 1999 has paved the way for large foreign investments in the Libyan hydrocarbon industries, a necessity for its full operation, expansion, and modernization. The Italian oil companies have been eager to embark on major projects in Libya. Libya will likely further expand its economic ties with European countries in energy and non-energy areas, while American sanctions will exclude American businesses, including oil companies, from investment in that country. The expansion of the Libyan private sector will likely gain momentum, since the liberalization of Libya's centralized economy is a necessity for its development and diversification. In the absence of any significant opposition, there is no serious challenge to the Libyan political system and the authority of Colonel Qadhafi. For the foreseeable future, the Libyan political system led by Colonel Qadhafi will likely remain stable.