Libya: U.S. Government Propaganda and Media Lies

by Brian Becker
Global Research
August 24, 2011

Libya is a small country of just over 6 million people but it possesses the largest oil reserves in all of Africa. The oil produced there is especially coveted because of its particularly high quality.

The Air Force of the United States along with Britain and France has carried out 7,459 bombing attacks since March 19. Britain, France and the United States sent special operation ground forces and commando units to direct the military operations of the so-called rebel fighters – it is a NATO- led army in the field.

The troops may be disaffected Libyans but the operation is under the control and direction of NATO commanders and western commando units who serve as “advisors.” Their new weapons and billions in funds come from the U.S. and other NATO powers that froze and seized Libya’s assets in Western banks. Their only military successes outside of Benghazi, in the far east of the country, have been exclusively based on the coordinated air and ground operations of the imperialist NATO military forces.

In military terms, Libya’s resistance to NATO is of David and Goliath proportions. U.S. military spending alone is more than ten times greater than Libya’s entire annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which was $74.2 billion in 2010, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book.

In recent weeks, the NATO military operations used surveillance-collecting drones, satellites, mounting aerial attacks and covert commando units to decapitate Libya’s military and political leadership and its command and control capabilities. Global economic sanctions meant that the country was suddenly deprived of income and secure access to goods and services needed to sustain a civilian economy over a long period.

“The cumulative effect [of NATO’s coordinated air and ground operation] not only destroyed Libya’s military infrastructure but also greatly diminished Colonel Gaddafi’s commanders to control forces, leaving even committed fighting units unable to move, resupply or coordinate operations,“ reports the New York Times in a celebratory article on August 22.

A False Pretext

The United States, United Kingdom, France, and Italy targeted the Libyan government for overthrow or “regime change” not because these governments were worried about protecting civilians or to bring about a more democratic form of governance in Libya.

If that were the real motivation of the NATO powers, they could start the bombing of Saudi Arabia right away. There are no elections in Saudi Arabia. The monarchy does not even allow women to drive cars. By law, women must be fully covered in public or they will go to prison. Protests are rare in Saudi Arabia because any dissent is met with imprisonment, torture and execution.

The Saudi monarchy is protected by U.S. imperialism because it is part of an undeclared but real U.S. sphere of influence and it is the largest producer of oil in the world. The U.S. attitude toward the Saudi monarchy was put succinctly by Ronald Reagan in 1981, when he said that the U.S. government “will not permit” revolution in Saudi Arabia such as the 1979 Iranian revolution that removed the U.S. client regime of the Shah. Reagan’s message was clear: the Pentagon and CIA’s military forces would be used decisively to destroy any democratic movement against the rule of the Saudi royal family.

Reagan’s explicit statement in 1981 has in fact been the policy of every successive U.S. administration, including the current one.

Libya and Imperialism

Libya, unlike Saudi Arabia, did have a revolution against its monarchy. As a result of the 1969 revolution led by Muammar Gaddafi, Libya was no longer in the sphere of influence of any imperialist country.

Libya had once been an impoverished colony of Italy living under the boot heel of the fascist Mussolini. After the Allied victory in World War II, control of the country was formally transferred to the United Nations and Libya became independent in 1951 with authority vested in the monarch King Idris.

But in actuality, Libya was controlled by the United States and Britain until the 1969 revolution.

One of the first acts of the 1969 revolution was to eliminate the vestiges of colonialism and foreign control. Not only were oil fields nationalized but Gaddafi eliminated foreign military bases inside the country.

In March of 1970, the Gaddafi government shut down two important British military bases in Tobruk and El Adem. He then became the Pentagon’s enemy when he evicted the U.S. Wheelus Air Force Base near Tripoli that had been operated by the United States since 1945. Before the British military took control in 1943, the facility was a base operated by the Italians under Mussolini.

Wheelus had been an important Strategic Air Command (SAC) base during the Cold War, housing B-52 bombers and other front-line Pentagon aircrafts that targeted the Soviet Union.

Once under Libyan control, the Gaddafi government allowed Soviet military planes to access the airfield.

In 1986, the Pentagon heavily bombed the base at the same time it bombed downtown Tripoli in an effort to assassinate Gaddafi. That effort failed but his 2-year-old daughter died along with scores of other civilians.

The Character of the Gaddafi Regime

The political, social and class orientation of the Libyan regime has gone through several stages in the last four decades. The government and ruling establishment reflected contradictory class, social, religious and regional antagonisms. The fact that the leadership of the NATO-led National Transition Council is comprised of top officials of the Gaddafi government, who broke with the regime and allied themselves with NATO, is emblematic of the decades-long instability within the Libyan establishment.

These inherent contradictions were exacerbated by pressures applied to Libya from the outside. The U.S. imposed far-reaching economic sanctions on Libya in the 1980s. The largest western corporations were barred from doing business with Libya and the country was denied access to credit from western banks.

In its foreign policy, Libya gave significant financial and military support to national liberation struggles, including in Palestine, Southern Africa, Ireland and elsewhere.

Because of Libya’s economic policies, living standards for the population had jumped dramatically after 1969. Having a small population and substantial income from its oil production, augmented with the Gaddafi regime’s far-reaching policy of social benefits, created a huge advance in the social and economic status for the population. Libya was still a class society with rich and poor, and gaps between urban and rural living standards, but illiteracy was basically wiped out, while education and health care were free and extensively accessible. By 2010, the per capita income in Libya was near the highest in Africa at $14,000 and life expectancy rose to over 77 years, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book.

Gaddafi’s political orientation explicitly rejected communism and capitalism. He created an ideology called the “Third International Theory,” which was an eclectic mix of Islamic, Arab nationalist and socialist ideas and programs. In 1977, Libya was renamed the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. A great deal of industry, including oil, was nationalized and the government provided an expansive social insurance program or what is called a welfare state policy akin to some features prevalent in the Soviet Union and some West European capitalist countries.

But Libya was not a workers’ state or a “socialist government” to use the popular if not scientific use of the term “socialist.” The revolution was not a workers and peasant rebellion against the capitalist class per se. Libya remained a class society although class differentiation may have been somewhat obscured beneath the existence of revolutionary committees and the radical, populist rhetoric that emanated from the regime.

As in many developing, formerly colonized countries, state ownership of property was not “socialist” but rather a necessary fortification of an under-developed capitalist class. State property in Iraq, Libya and other such post-colonial regimes was designed to facilitate the social and economic growth of a new capitalist ruling class that was initially too weak, too deprived of capital and too cut off from international credit to compete on its own terms with the dominant sectors of world monopoly capitalism. The nascent capitalist classes in such developing economies promoted state-owned property, under their control, in order to intersect with Western banks and transnational corporations and create more favorable terms for global trade and investment.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the “socialist bloc” governments of central and Eastern Europe in 1989-91 deprived Libya of an economic and military counter-weight to the United States, and the Libyan government’s domestic economic and foreign policy shifted towards accommodation with the West.

In the 1990s some sectors of the Libyan economic establishment and the Gaddafi-led government favored privatization, cutting back on social programs and subsidies and integration into western European markets.

The earlier populism of the regime incrementally gave way to the adoption of neo-liberal policies. This was, however, a long process.

In 2004, the George W. Bush administration ended sanctions on Libya. Western oil companies and banks and other corporations initiated huge direct investments in Libya and trade with Libyan enterprises.

There was also a growth of unemployment in Libya and in cutbacks in social spending, leading to further inequality between rich and poor and class polarization.

But Gaddafi himself was still considered a thorn in the side of the imperialist powers. They want absolute puppets, not simply partners, in their plans for exploitation. The Wikileaks release of State Department cables between 2007 and 2010 show that the United states and western oil companies were condemning Gaddafi for what they called “resource nationalism.” Gaddafi even threatened to re-nationalize western oil companies’ property unless Libya was granted a larger share of the revenue for their projects.

As an article in today’s New York Times Business section said honestly: “”Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for the international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with.”

Even the most recent CIA Fact Book publication on Libya, written before the armed revolt championed by NATO, complained of the measured tempo of pro-market reforms in Libya: “Libya faces a long road ahead in liberalizing the socialist-oriented economy, but initial steps— including applying for WTO membership, reducing some subsidies, and announcing plans for privatization—are laying the groundwork for a transition to a more market-based economy.” (CIA World Fact Book)

The beginning of the armed revolt on February 23 by disaffected members of the Libyan military and political establishment provided the opportunity for the U.S. imperialists, in league with their French and British counterparts, to militarily overthrow the Libyan government and replace it with a client or stooge regime.

Of course, in the revolt were workers and young people who had many legitimate grievances against the Libyan government. But what is critical in an armed struggle for state power is not the composition of the rank-and-file soldiers, but the class character and political orientation of the leadership.

Character of the National Transition Council

The National Transitional Council (NTC) constituted itself as the leadership of the uprising in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city. The central leader is Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who was Libya’s Minister of Justice until his defection at the start of the uprising. He was one of a significant number of Western-oriented and neoliberal officials from Libya’s government, diplomatic corps and military ranks who joined the opposition in the days immediately after the start of the revolt.

As soon as it was established, the NTC began issuing calls for imperialist intervention. These appeals became increasing panicky as it became clear that, contrary to early predictions that the Gaddafi-led government would collapse in a matter of days, it was the “rebels” who faced imminent defeat in the civil war. In fact, it was only due to the U.S./NATO bombing campaign, initiated with great hurry on March 19 that the rebellion did not collapse.

The last five months of war have erased any doubt about the pro-imperialist character of the NTC. One striking episode took place on April 22, when Senator John McCain made a “surprise” trip to Benghazi. A huge banner was unveiled to greet him with an American flag printed on it and the words: “United States of America – You have a new ally in North Africa.”

Similar to the military relationship between the NATO and Libyan “rebel” armed forces, the NTC is entirely dependent on and subordinated to the U.S., French, British and Italian imperialist governments.

If the Pentagon, CIA, and Wall Street succeed in installing a client regime in Tripoli it will accelerate and embolden the imperialist threats and intervention against other independent governments such as Syria and Venezuela. In each case we will see a similar process unfold, including the demonization of the leadership of the targeted countries so as to silence or mute a militant anti-war response to the aggression of the war-makers.

We in the ANSWER Coalition invite all those who share this perspective to join with us, to mobilize, and to unmask the colonial agenda that hides under the slogan of “humanitarian intervention.”

Panic Alarms hit Italian Economy

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has called an emergency meeting of top officials dealing with the euro zone debt crisis.

Reuters
July 10, 2011

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet will attend the meeting along with Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the region’s finance ministers, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Olli Rehn, the economic and monetary affairs commissioner, three official sources told Reuters.

Van Rompuy’s spokesman Dirk De Backer said: “It’s a coordination, not a crisis meeting.” He added that Italy would not be on the agenda and declined to say what would be discussed.

However, two official sources told Reuters that the situation in Italy would be discussed. The talks were organized after a sharp sell-off in Italian assets on Friday, which has increased fears that Italy, with the highest sovereign debt ratio relative to its economy in the euro zone after Greece, could be next to suffer in the crisis. A second international bailout of Greece will also be discussed, the sources said.

The spread of the Italian 10-year government bond yield over benchmark German Bunds hit euro lifetime highs around 2.45 percentage points on Friday, raising the Italian yield to 5.28 percent, close to the 5.5-5.7 percent area which some bankers think could start putting heavy pressure on Italy’s finances.

Shares in Italy’s biggest bank, Unicredit Spa, fell 7.9 percent on Friday, partly because of worries about the results of stress tests of the health of European banks that will be released on July 15. The leading Italian stock index sank 3.5 percent.

The market pressure is due partly to Italy’s high sovereign debt and sluggish economy, but also to concern that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may be trying to undermine and even push out Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, who has promoted deep spending cuts to control the budget deficit.

“We can’t go on for many more days like Friday,” a senior ECB official said. “We’re very worried about Italy.”

Monday’s emergency meeting will precede a previously scheduled gathering of the euro zone’s 17 finance ministers to discuss how to secure a contribution of private sector investors to the second bailout of Greece, as well as the results of the stress tests of 91 European banks.

GREECE

Greece is already receiving 110 billion euros ($157 billion) of international loans under a rescue scheme launched in May last year but this has failed to change market expectations that it will eventually default on its debt.

Senior euro zone officials worry that progress toward a second Greek bailout, which would also total around 110 billion euros and aim to fund the country into late 2014, is not being made quickly enough and that the delay is poisoning investors’ confidence in weak economies around the region.

“We need to move on this in the next couple of weeks. It’s not a case of waiting until late August or early September as Germany is saying. That’s too late and markets will make us pay for it,” a top euro zone official told Reuters on Saturday.

German officials insist they too want to put together the second Greek bailout as quickly as possible, but the private sector’s contribution is proving to be a major sticking point.

Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland are determined that banks, insurers and other private holders of Greek government bonds should bear some of the costs of helping Athens. But more than two weeks of negotiations with bankers represented by the Institute of International Finance (IIF), a lobby group, have made next to no progress on agreeing a formula acceptable to all sides.

Initially talks focused on a complex French plan for private creditors to roll over up to 30 billion euros of Greek debt, buying new bonds as their existing ones matured. Around half of proceeds from Greek bonds maturing before the end of 2014 would be rolled over into very long-term debt while 20 percent would be put into a “guarantee fund” of AAA-rated securities.

But as that plan has floundered, Berlin has revived a proposal to swap Greek bonds for longer-dated debt that would extend maturities by seven years. Proposals to buy back Greek bonds and retire them have also been floated.

In a buy-back, the euro zone’s bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, might buy Greek bonds from the market, or the EFSF might lend Greece money to buy bonds. However, these schemes would require further changes to the EFSF’s rules and would therefore have to go through national parliaments, an official source said.

SQUARE ONE

A senior euro zone official told Reuters on Friday that rather than progress being made in the talks with the IIF, as IIF managing director Charles Dallara has said, all sides were close to being “back to square one.”

Dallara will attend the meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Brussels on Monday.

Since the euro zone’s debt crisis erupted last year, the region’s rich governments have aimed to limit it to Greece, Ireland and Portugal, which have so far signed up to bailouts totaling 273 billion euros — a sum that is small compared to the financial resources of the zone as a whole.

Spain, traditionally seen as the next potential domino in the crisis, has managed to retain its access to market funding through fiscal reforms. But because of the large sizes of the Spanish and Italian economies, pressure on the euro zone would increase dramatically if those countries eventually needed financial assistance.

Private analysts have estimated a three-year bailout of Spain, based on its projected gross issuance of medium- and long-term debt in 2011, might cost some 300 billion euros — excluding any additional money for cleaning up Spain’s banks. A three-year rescue of Italy could cost twice that.

German newspaper Die Welt quoted an unnamed ECB source as saying on Sunday that the EFSF, which has a nominal size of 440 billion euros, was not large enough to protect Italy because it had not been designed to do that.

In Italy on Sunday, politicians and government officials scrambled to present a united front and defend Tremonti. Umberto Bossi, the powerful leader of Berlusconi’s Northern League coalition allies, praised Tremonti for “listening to the markets.”

“From tomorrow, we have the job of showing we are united and blocking the effort of speculators,” said Paolo Bonaiuti, a government undersecretary and senior aide to Berlusconi.

“In the coming months we have 120-130 billion euros of bond issues to deal with, so we need cohesion and united intent; it’ll take effort to show that the markets are overdoing it.”

However, Berlusconi himself was silent over the weekend and canceled two appointments to speak, and it was not clear how long the appearance of consensus in the government over austerity plans would last.

One factor behind bond markets’ growing instability is a sense that the euro zone’s basic strategy for dealing with debt problems — keeping countries afloat with emergency loans in the hope they can grow their way out of their debts within a few years — is flawed. More radical action to cut the countries’ debts or boost economic growth may be needed.

In Germany on Sunday, President Christian Wulff said Greece would need a lot longer to resolve its debt problems than many people in Europe were now acknowledging.

Wulff, a former leader in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and now Germany’s ceremonial head of state, told ZDF television there was a need for “an overall concept” for resolving Europe’s debt crisis.

“It can’t be something that will suffice for a three-month period but rather has to offer solutions to the problem that will cover the next 10 to 15 years,” Wulff said.

Bankers, Government Austerity: Seizure of public Property for Corporations

by Wayne Madsen
Wayne Madsen Report
June 15, 2011

What lies in store for Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy, and, in short order, the United States, is the wholesale sell-off of public property to private corporations at bargain basement prices. What the despots who gather in their secretive lairs at Davos, Cernobbio, Bilderberg, and G8/G20 are bringing about is a world where no property is owned by the state, which by default means the people. Total corporate control over every facet of life equals extreme fascism.

What is occurring in Greece is a bellwether for what will befall other nations in Europe, as well as the United States, if the bankers get their way. And in Greece, the people know how generations of investments by the taxpayers are being turned over to vampire capitalists who have the full backing of the International Monetary Fund, European Commission, and the European Central Bank.

The European and global bankers have demanded that the Greek government sell off entirely or assume a minority stake in a number of state enterprises and utilities.

For example, this year global capitalists are slated to acquire 84 percent of OTE, the Greek telecommunications provider. In addition, private bankers will assume 66 percent ownership of the Greek Postal Savings Bank; 51 percent of the National Lottery; 60 percent of the Salonika Water Authority; 68 percent of DEPA, the natural gas utility; and 25 percent ownership of the ports of Piraeus and Salonika.

Next year, the capitalist grab for public property increases in intensity with Athens International Airport coming under 79 percent private ownership. The global capitalists will also obtain 100 percent ownership of the Egniata toll motorway; 60 percent of Hellenic Post; 66 percent of OPAP, the state-run video-lotto and online sports betting firm; 73 percent of the Athens Water Authority; 83 percent of DEI, the Greek Electric Authority; and 51 percent of the Greek Regional Airports Authority.

The Greek Communist Party has vowed to fight against the acquisition of public property by the private sector. In fact, it is the Communist parties of Europe that have been the most vocal against the power grab by the bankers but their opposition to the privatization moves receives very little attention by the corporate-controlled media.

Massive sell-off lists of public property are now being drawn up by the governments of Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland. In the United States, there are calls for the privatization of the US Postal Service, Social Security, and Medicare.

One Libyan government official this reporter spoke to in Tripoli, during an intensive NATO bombing assault, opined that the same fate is in store for the Libyan Socialist Jamahiriyah. With the highest standard of living in Africa, Libyans could witness the U.S.- and NATO-backed rebel government begin to sell off Libyan government assets to global capitalists. The Libyan official said, “These people [global bankers] would sell the air if they could get away with it.”

Libya and the Imperial Re-Division of Africa

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research
April 26, 2011

Plans to attack Libya have been longstanding. The imperial war machine of the United States, Britain, France, Italy, and their NATO allies is involved in a new military adventure that parallels the events that led to the wars against Yugoslavia and Iraq. The war machine has been mobilized under the cover of “humanitarian intervention.”

In fact what the Pentagon and NATO have done is breach international law by intervening on the side of one of the combating parties in Libya in a civil war that they themselves have encouraged and fuelled. They have not protected civilians, but have launched a war against the Libyan regime in Tripoli and actively assisted the Benghazi-based Transitional Council in fighting the Libyan military.

Before the rapprochement with Colonel Qaddafi, for years the U.S., Britain, France, and their allies worked to destabilize Libya. Confirmed by U.S. government sources, Washington attempted regime change in Tripoli several times.[1] According to General Wesley Clark, former NATO commander, the Pentagon had active plans for launching a war against Libya.
The U.S. and its NATO allies are now embroiled in a new war that has the patented characteristics of the wars and invasions of Iraq and the former Yugoslavia.

A large naval armada off the shores of Libya has been bombing Libya for weeks with the declared objective of ousting the Libyan regime. At the same time, Libyan internal divisions are being fuelled.

Misinformation is systematically being spewed. Like Saddam Hussein before him, the U.S. and the E.U. have armed and helped Colonel Qaddafi. It is, therefore, important to hold the U.S. and the E.U. accountable for these weapon sales and the training of Libyan forces.

Also, like in Iraq, another Arab dictator was befriended by the U.S., only to be subsequently betrayed.

Prior to Iraq’s rapprochement with the U.S., at the outset of the Iraq-Iran War, Saddam Hussein was a Soviet ally and considered an enemy by Washington.

Today's friends are tomorrow's foes

The case of Colonel Qaddafi is in many regards similar. Ironically, Qaddafi had warned Arab leaders in 2008 at a meeting in Damascus under the auspices of the Arab League about regime change. He pointed to the U.S. government’s “bad habit” of betraying its Arab dictator friends:

Why won’t the [U.N.] Security Council investigate the hanging of Saddam Hussein? How could the leader of an Arab League state be hanged? I am not talking about Saddam Hussein’s policies or our [meaning the other Arab leaders] animosity towards him. We all had our disagreements with him. We all disagree with one another. Nothing unites us except this hall. Why is there not an investigation about Saddam Hussein’s execution?

An entire Arab government is killed and hung on the gallows – Why?! In the future it is going to be your turns too! [The rest of the Arab officials gathered start laughing] Indeed!

America fought alongside Saddam Hussein against Khomeini [in the Iraq-Iran War]. He was their friend. Cheney was a friend of Saddam Hussein. Rumsfeld, the [U.S.] defence secretary during the bombing of Iraq [in 2003], was a close friend of Saddam Hussein.

At the end they sold him out. They hung him. Even you [the Arab leaders] who are the friends of America – no I will say we – we, the friends of America, America may approve of our hanging one day. [2]

At the end of the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. deliberately encouraged open revolt against Saddam Hussein’s regime, but stood back and watched as Saddam Hussein put down the Iraqi revolts by force.

In 2011, they have done the same thing against Qaddafi and his regime in Libya. Not only was the revolt in Libya instigated by Washington and its allies, the rebels have been supplied with weapons and military advisers.

When the U.S. and its allies triggered the anti-Saddam revolts in Baghdad in the wake of the Gulf War, “no-fly zones” over Iraq were established by the U.S., Britain, and France under the pretext of protecting “the Iraqi people from Saddam.” For years Iraq was systematically attacked. The Iraqi Republic was bombed and its capabilities to defend itself were eroded.
Today, the U.S. and its allies have imposed a no-fly zone over Libya with the pretext of protecting “the Libyan people from Qaddafi.” If they wanted to protect the Libyan people from Qaddafi, why did they arm Qaddafi in the first place? Why did they enter into business transactions in the wake of the 2006 and 2008 anti-government riots in Libya? There is much more to this narrative, which is part of a broader march to war.

A New Imperial Re-Division of Africa: The London Conference

The London Conference on Libya reveals the true colours of the coalition formed against Libya. In a clear breach of international law, the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and their allies are making decisions about the future of Libya ahead of any changes on the ground. [4] Democracy is a bottom-up process and Libyan governance is an internal matter to be decided upon by the Libyans themselves. These decisions can not be made by foreign powers that have been the staunch supporters of some of the worst dictatorships.

Current chiefs of state such as Sarkozy and Berlusconi befriended the man they call today a dictator.

The nations gathered at the conference table in London have no right whatsoever to decide on whether Qaddafi must stay or go. This is a sovereignty right that only Libyans alone have. Their involvement in the civil war is a breach of international law, as is their siding with one of the camps in the civil war.

The London Conference on Libya can be likened to the Berlin Conference of 1884. Unlike 1884, this conference is aimed at dividing the spoils of war in Libya, instead of the direct carving up of an entire continent. Also, Washington, instead of staying away like in 1884, is the leading power in this new conference involving the affairs of the African continent.
The position of the U.S. and its Western European allies is very clear:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and British Foreign Secretary William Hague led the crisis talks in London between 40 countries and institutions, all seeking an endgame aimed at halting Gadhafi’s bloody onslaught against Libya’s people.

Although the NATO-led airstrikes on Gadhafi’s forces that began March 19 aren’t aimed at toppling him, dozens of nations agreed in the talks that Libya’s future does not include the dictator at the helm.
“Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead, so we believe he must go. We’re working with the international community to try to achieve that outcome,” Clinton told reporters.

As she spoke, U.S. officials announced that American ships and submarines in the Mediterranean had unleashed a barrage of cruise missiles at Libyan missile storage facilities in the Tripoli area late Monday and early Tuesday — the heaviest attack in days.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle echoed Clinton’s point.

“One thing is quite clear and has to be made very clear to Gadhafi: His time is over. He must go,” Westerwelle said. “We must destroy his illusion that there is a way back to business as usual if he manages to cling to power.” [4]

The London Conference on Libya, however, not only deals solely with Libya, but holds the blue prints to a new imperialist re-division of the entire Africa continent. Libya, which became a holdout when Qaddafi changed his mind, will be used to complete the “Union of the Mediterranean” and as a new bridgehead into Africa. This is the start of major steps that will be taken by the U.S. and the E.U. to purge the growing Chinese presence from Africa.

A New Imperial Re-Division of Africa: “Operation Odyssey Dawn”

The name “Operation Odyssey Dawn” is very revealing. It identifies the strategic intent and direction of the war against Libya.

The Odyssey is an ancient Greek epic by the poet Homer which recounts the voyage and trails of the hero Odysseus of Ithaca on his way home. The main theme here is the “return home.”

The U.S. and the imperialist powers are on their own odyssey of “return” into Africa.

This project is also intimately related to the broader military agenda in Southwest Asia and the drive into Eurasia, which ultimately targets Russia, China, and Central Asia.

Washington’s military agenda pertains  to the African and the Eurasian landmass, namely a supercontinent known as the “World-Island.” It is control of the World-Island that is the object of U.S. strategies.

The U.S. and NATO have triggered a civil war in Libya, as their pretext for longstanding plans of military aggression. A systematic media disinformation campaign, similar to the one used against Iraq from 1991 to 2003, has been launched.

In fact, the media has led the way for the war in Libya as it did in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The U.S. and its cohorts have also used the atmosphere of popular revolt in the Arab World as a cloud to insert and support their own agenda in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The Libyan Prize of the Mediterranean

There is an old Libyan proverb that says “if your pocket becomes empty, your faults will be many.” In this context, Libyan internal tensions are not dominated by breadbasket issues. This sets Libya apart from Arab countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, and Jordan. [5] In Libya, the lack of freedom as well as rampant corruption has created opposition to the regime, which has been used by the U.S. and its allies as a pretext to justify foreign intervention.

Libya has come a long way since 1951 when it became an independent country. In 1975, the political scientist Henri Habib described these conditions:

When Libya was granted its independence by the United Nations on December 24, 1951, it was described as one of the poorest and most backward nations of the world. The population at the time was not more than 1.5 million, was over 90% illiterate, and had no political experience or knowhow. There were no universities, and only a limited number of high schools which had been established seven years before independence. [6]

According to Habib the state of poverty in Libya was the result of the yoke of Ottoman domination followed by an era of European imperialism in Libya. [7] Habib explains: “Every effort was made to keep the Arab inhabitants [of Libya] in a servile position rendering them unable to make any progress for themselves or their nation.” [8]  He also explains:

The climax of this oppression came during the Italian administration (1911 – 1943) when the Libyans were not only oppressed by the [foreign] authorities, but were also subjected to the loss and deprivation of their most fertile land which went to colonists brought in from Italy. The British and French who replaced the Italians in 1943 attempted to entrench themselves in [Libya] by various divisive ways, ultimately to fail through a combination of political events and circumstances beyond the control of any one nation. [9]

Despite political mismanagement and corruption, Libya’s oil reserves (discovered in 1959) were used to improve the standard of living for its population. Libya has the highest standards of living in Africa.

In addition to its energy reserves, the Libyan state played an important role. Libyan energy reserves were nationalized after the 1969 coup against the Libyan monarchy. It should be noted that these Libyan energy reserves are a source of wealth in Libya that if fully privatized would be a lucrative spoil of war.

To a certain extent, the isolation of Libya in the past as a pariah state has also played a role in insulating Libya. As most of the world has become globalized from an economic standpoint, Libyan integration into the global economy has in a sense been delayed.

Despite having vast sums of money stolen and squandered by Qaddafi’s family and their officials, social services and benefits, such as government housing, are also available in Libya. It has to be cautioned too that none of this means that neo-liberal restructuring and poverty are not afoot in Libya, because they very much are.

Until the conflict in 2011 ignited, there was a huge foreign work force in Libya. Thousands of foreign workers from every corner of the globe went to Libya for employment. This included nationals from Turkey, China, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the European Union, Russia, Ukraine, and the Arab World.

Neo-Liberalism and the New Libya: Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi and Rapprochement

From 2001 to 2003, a process of rapprochement began between Libya and the U.S. and its E.U. partners. What changed? Colonel Qaddafi did not stop being a dictator or change his behaviour. Rapprochement brought an end to Tripoli’s defiance to its former colonial masters. Libya had bowed to U.S. and E.U. pressures and a modus vivandi came into effect.
Qaddafi’s credentials as a democrat or a dictator were never an issue. Nor was the use of brute force. Subservience was the real issue.

The force used against the riots in 2006 and 2008 did not even faze the E.U. and Washington, which continued their “business as usual” with Tripoli. Even U.S. government sources implied that economic interests should not be jeopardized by issues of international law or justice; for example, BP pressured the British government in 2007 to move forward with a prisoner exchange with Libya so that a Libyan oil contract could be protected. [10]

Almost overnight, Libya became a new business bonanza for U.S. and E.U. corporations, especially in the energy sectors. These lucrative contracts also included military contracts of the order of $482 million (U.S.) in military hardware, training, and software from E.U. members (including chemical and biological agents). [11]

Yet, two more things were demanded by Washington, namely the imposition of an imperial tribute as well as the the opening up of the Libyan military and intelligence apparatus to U.S. influence. As a result Libya ended all support for the Palestinians and handed the U.S. government its dossiers on resistance groups opposed to Washington, London, Tel Aviv and their allies. This turned Libya into a so-called “partner” in the “Global War on Terrorism.” Washington would get involved in all aspects of Libyan state security:

Although U.S. sanctions on Libya were lifted in 2004 and terrorism-related restrictions on foreign assistance were rescinded in 2006, Congress acted to limit the Bush Administration’s ability to provide foreign assistance to Libya as a means of pressuring the Administration and the Libyan government to resolve outstanding terrorism claims. The Bush Administration’s October 2008 certification […] ended standing restrictions on the provision of U.S. foreign assistance contained in appropriations legislation for FY2008 and FY2009. Assistance requests submitted by the Bush and Obama Administrations for FY2009 and FY2010 included funding for programs to reengage with Libyan security forces after “a 35-year break in contact” with their U.S. counterparts and to support Libyan efforts to improve security capabilities in areas of common concern, such as border control, counterterrorism, and export/import monitoring. [12]

Libya has also become active in global banking and finance. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of New York even made 73 loans to the Arab Banking Corporation (ABC), which is a bank mostly owned by the Central Bank of Libya, totalling an amount of $35 billion (U.S.). [13] According to Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont in a complaint to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Benjamin Bernanke, the mostly Libyan-owned bank received over $26 billion (U.S.) in near zero interest rate loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it has been lending back to the U.S. Treasury at a higher interest rate. [14] The Arab Banking Corporation is currently exempted from sanctions on Libya and may serve in creating a fiscal link between Wall Street and Benghazi.

Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi was vital in this process of opening up Libya to trade with Washington and the European Union. In 2000 Saif Al-Islam graduated from a university in Austria and became heavily tied to foreign associates who became his policy advisors and friends.

Prince Andrew of Britain reportedly became a close friend of Said Al-Islam: so close that Chris Bryant, a senior Labour Party politician, demanded in the British House of Commons that Prince Andrew be removed from his position as special trade envoy at the start of the conflict with Libya. [15]

Western advisors to Tripoli played an important role in shaping Libyan policy. A “New Libya” started to emerge under Saif Al-Islam, who pushed for the adoption of IMF-style neo-liberal economic reforms.

Starting in 2005-2006, significant social and income disparities started to emerge in Libya. The Libyan Revolutionary Committees Movement was in large part disbanded by Saif Al-Islam. Had the Committees Movement remained, they would most probably have sought to prevent the present conflict from escalating.

Moreover, Saif Al-Islam went to London and established ties in Britain with Noman Benotman, a former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). [16] He became friends with Benotman.

Supported by Saif Al-Islam, Benotman and Ali Al-Sallabi, a Libyan citizen based in Qatar (who was on Tripoli’s terrorist list), negotiated a truce between the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and the Libyan government.

It is also worth noting that all the ministers and ambassadors who defected or left Libya were chosen by Saif Al-Islam.
As in the case of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the neo-liberal reforms applied in Libya created social and income disparities which in turn contributed to political instability.

Rapprochement with Tripoli and Imperial Extortion

In late-2008, the U.S. government got Tripoli to pay what was tantamount to an “imperial tribute.” Libya capitulated and agreed to an uneven reparation agreement with Washington. The agreement is called the “Claims Settlement Agreement between the United States of America and the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab.” Under the agreement Libya would concede $1.3 billion U.S. dollars to Washington, while Washington would give the Libyans $300 million U.S. dollars. Article 4 of the agreement’s annex states:

Once contributions to the Fund Account reach the amount of U.S. $1.8 billion (one billion eight hundred million U.S. dollars), the amount of U.S. $1.5 billion (one billion five hundred million U.S. dollars) shall be deposited into Account A [the U.S. account] and the amount of U.S. $300 million (three hundred million U.S. dollars) shall be deposited into Account B [Libya’s account], which in both cases shall constitute the receipt of resources under Article III (2) of the Agreement. [17]

Despite all this, Libya has remained a relatively wealthy country. In 2010, Tripoli even made an offer to buy a portion of British Petroleum (BP), one of the world’s largest corporations. [18] The National Oil Company of Libya also remains one of the largest oil companies in the world.

Even with the lucrative business deals that resulted from the rapprochement, the U.S. and the E.U. have always had an objective of furthering their gains and control. The E.U. powers and Washington merely waited for the right opportunity. Plans for taking over and controlling Libya and the Libyan energy sector were never abandoned. Nor could Washington and Western Europe accept anything less than a full-fledged puppet government in Libya.

Upheaval and Qaddafi’s Response

Even with the rapprochement with Tripoli, the U.S. and its E.U. partners continued to cultivated ties to so-called “opposition” figures and organizations with a view to implementing regime change at some future date. This is why the National Salvation Front of Libya has been mostly active in Washington. In the words of a timely Congressional Research Service (CRS) report (February 18, 2011):

The National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (an umbrella organization of opposition groups headed by the National Libyan Salvation Front (NLSF) […]) and Internet-based organizers called for a “day of rage” to take place on February 17. Similar events had been organized by anti-government groups in many other countries in the Middle East and North Africa over the previous month. On February 17, [2011] hundreds of protestors took to the streets in Benghazi and in other cities in its vicinity. [19]

Colonel Qaddafi has ruled Libya under a harsh dictatorship that has systematically used violence and fear. Yet, the level of violence that has put Libya in a state of upheaval has been distorted. [20] Many of the initial reports coming out of Libya in early-2011 were also unverified and in many cases misleading. These reports have to be studied very carefully. According to the same CRS report prepared for the U.S. Congress, initial reports all came from “local [Libyan] media accounts, amateur video footage and anecdotes, and reports from human rights organizations and opposition groups in exile.” [21]

Qaddafi’s objectives are to preserve his regime and not to undo it. After Qaddafi became aware of the growing foreign threat directed towards his regime, the use of force was on the whole restrained. The regime in Tripoli did not want to give further excuses to the U.S., the E.U., and NATO for military intervention in Libya.

Qaddafi had exercised restraint for the sake of preserving his dictatorship. The Libyan regime knew very well that a bloody civil war would be used as a justification for intervention under a humanitarian pretext. That is why Qaddafi opted to try to negotiate where he could instead of using force. The use of violence is not to the favour of the Libyan regime or Libya, but rather works in the favour of the U.S. and the E.U. states.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes on the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Italy and France now want to close borders

Sarkozy and Berlusconi want passport-free travel within the EU suspended as north African migrants flee north

UK Guardian
April 27, 2011

France and Italy have thrown down the gauntlet over Europe’s system of passport-free travel, saying a crisis of immigration sparked by the Arab spring was calling into question the borderless regime enjoyed by more than 400 million people in 25 countries.

Challenging one of the biggest achievements of European integration of recent decades, Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi also launched a joint effort to stem immigration and demanded European deportation pacts with the countries of revolutionary north Africa to send new arrivals packing.

The French president and the Italian prime minister, at a summit in Rome, opted to pile the pressure on Brussels and the governments of the other 25 EU states, demanding an “in-depth revision” of European law regulating the passport-free travel that takes in almost all of the EU with the exception of Britain and Ireland.

Prompted by the influx to Italy of almost 30,000 immigrants, mainly from Tunisia, in recent months, the two leaders warned that the upheavals in north Africa “could swiftly become an out-and-out crisis capable of undermining the trust our fellow citizens place in the free circulation within the Schengen area”.

The passport-free travel system known as the Schengen regime was agreed by a handful of countries in 1985 and put into practice in 1995. Since then it has been embraced by 22 EU countries as well as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, but spurned by Britain and Ireland. It is widely seen, along with the euro single currency, as Europe’s signature unification project of recent decades.

But like the euro, fighting its biggest crisis over the past year, the Schengen regime is being tested amid mounting populism and the renationalisation of politics across the EU.

In other setbacks to borderless Europe, Germany, France and other countries have been blocking the admission of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen in recent months, while the arrival of thousands of Middle Eastern migrants in Greece has fed exasperation with Athens’s inability to control the EU’s southern border.

The Franco-Italian move, following weeks of bad-tempered exchanges between Paris and Rome over how to deal with the Tunisian influx, is the biggest threat yet to the Schengen regime.

“For the treaty to stay alive, it must be reformed,” Sarkozy said. Berlusconi added: “We both believe that in exceptional circumstances there should be variations to the Schengen treaty.”

They sent a joint letter to the European commission and European council chiefs, José Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy, urging proposals from Brussels and agreement on a new system at an EU summit of government heads in June.

The commission said it was drawing up new proposals, tinkering with the current system, to be unveiled next week. But it has resisted, with the support of most EU governments, intense Italian pressure to label the arrivals from north Africa an emergency.

Under European law the border-free regime can be suspended only for reasons of national security, routinely invoked in recent years by member states hosting major international sporting events such as the World Cup or the European football championships, where individual countries contend with a huge, one-off influx of foreigners.  Read Full Article…