Libya situation update
Just returned from Libya, thought there will be a catch with the visas having been so easy, well there is:
Contrary to several previous experiences when things were surprisingly smooth and flexible, this time the trip was a continuous series of hassles with officialdom. We were forced to take three (!) escorts, one from the agency issuing the visa, one tourist police, and one official guide, all this despite having rented vehicles locally (no escort was needed aside the drivers in the past).
Desert itineraries are tightly controlled, one is allowed only a straight line along a piste from checkpoint to checkpoint (and a surprising number of new ones have sprung up, even in the remote and previously empty south-east), and you must havre every single destination listed on the permit, otherwise no-go.
It is unclear whether this applies to all of the desert areas of the country due to the Algeria events, or only to the south-east where things seem to be rather tense due to the rebelion in Darfur. We met several army patrols in remote deep desert areas south of Kufra, and also there is a permanent army post at Wau Namus (with the usual heaps of trash such a post entrails).
Unless you plan to do a tightly controlled 'tourist circuit' along the beaten path, advise to stay away from Libya for the time being until regulations are relaxed.