North Korea threatens to attack U.S. bases in Japan and Guam

BY JACK KIM | REUTERS | MARCH 21, 2013

North Korea said it would attack U.S. military bases on Japan and the Pacific island of Guam if provoked, a day after leader Kim Jong-un oversaw a mock drone strike on South Korea.

The North also held an air raid drill on Thursday after accusing the United States of preparing a military strike using bombers that have overflown the Korean peninsula as part of drills between South Korean and U.S. forces.

North Korea has stepped up its rhetoric in response to what it calls “hostile” drills between South Korea and the United States. It has also been angered by the imposition of fresh U.N. sanctions that followed its February 12 nuclear test.

Separately, South Korea said a hacking attack on the servers of local broadcasters and banks on Wednesday originated from an IP address in China, raising suspicions the intrusion came from North Korea.

“The United States is advised not to forget that our precision target tools have within their range the Anderson Air Force base on Guam where the B-52 takes off, as well as the Japanese mainland where nuclear powered submarines are deployed and the navy bases on Okinawa,” the North’s supreme military command spokesman was quoted as saying by the KCNA news agency.

Japan and U.S. Pacific bases are in range of Pyongyang’s medium-range missiles.

It is not known if North Korea possesses drones, although a report on South Korea’s Yonhap news agency last year said it had obtained 1970s-era U.S. target drones from Syria to develop into attack drones.

“The (drone) planes were assigned the flight route and time with the targets in South Korea in mind, Kim Jong-un said, adding with great satisfaction that they were proved to be able to mount (a) super-precision attack on any enemy targets,” KCNA reported.

It is extremely rare for KCNA to specify the day on which Kim attended a drill. It also said a rocket defense unit had successfully shot down a target that mimicked an “enemy” Tomahawk cruise missile.

North Korea has said it has abrogated an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War and threatened a nuclear attack on the United States.

Although North Korea lacks the technology to carry out such an attack, Washington said it would deploy more anti-missile batteries in Alaska to counter any threat.

PYONGYANG HAS HACKED SOUTH KOREA BEFORE

The hacking attack brought down the servers of South Korean broadcasters YTN, MBC and KBS as well as two major commercial banks, Shinhan Bank and NongHyup Bank.

South Korean communications regulators said the attack originated from an IP address based in China.

An unnamed official from South Korea’s presidential office was quoted by the Yonhap news agency as saying the discovery of the Chinese IP address indicated Pyongyang was responsible.

Investigations of past hacking incidents on South Korean organizations have been traced to Pyongyang’s large army of computer engineers trained to infiltrate the South’s computer networks.

At least one previous attack was traced to a Chinese IP address.

South Korea’s defense ministry said it was too early to blame the North but said such a cyber capability was a key part of its arsenal. Experts say thousands of North Korean engineers may have been recruited for the purpose.

“Throughout the world, states that create cyber warfare and engage in those types of activities are precisely the same countries that develop nuclear weapons,” Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.

“North Korea has strongly stepped up development of asymmetrical strategy with nuclear development and many types of ballistic missiles as well as a special forces of 200,000 strong.”

US Military wants Drones over Latin America

LATINO VOICES | JUNE 14, 2012

The U.S. Military is looking to relocate some of their predator drones, sending some to South and Central America, according to a new article in Wired Magazine.

As US forces come home from Afghanistan, the US military seems to have a surplus of predator drones — remotely operated unmanned aircraft vehicles often used to carry out attacks and intelligence gathering missions. Drones previously used in Afghanistan will be given to “operational missions by previously undeserved” commands, including those in the Pacific and in Southern America, according to Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Norton Schwartz. While the exact number of drones, which will be sent to Latin America remains unknown, the implications of their presence remain hotly contested.

Some question whether their presence in the region is even necessary or whether they will be effective in thwarting drug traffickers. Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations told Wired Magazine that while the drones could help with spy missions in South America, there is no good reason to use their attack capabilities.

“There is no strategic rationale for the United States to be responding to the flow of drugs from Latin America with the tactical use of kinetic force against drug planes or boats you happen to be able to find, ” he said. Furthermore, Zenko noted that the drones might be better used for United Nations peacekeeping operations in regions like Southern Sudan.  “3,800 troops deployed right now for an [area] of 2,100 kilometers, with poor roads that wash out in the rainy season,” Zenko told Wired Magazine. “The deployment of these [spy] capabilities, and associated logistics and training infrastructure, would make a huge difference.”

Just days after the announcement that drone presence will be increased in Latin America, the Pew Research Center released a study suggesting that the Obama administration’s use of unmanned drone strikes to kill terror suspects is widely opposed around the world. On Wednesday, Pew reported that in 17 out of 21 countries surveyed, “more than half of the people disapproved of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia,” according to The Associated Press. But a majority of Americans, 62 percent, approve the increased drone strikes.

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Islam as a Geopolitical Tool to Control the Middle East

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research.ca
July 4, 2011

As Washington and its cohorts march towards the Eurasian Heartland, they have tried to manipulate Islam as a geo-political tool. They have created political and social chaos in the process. Along the way they have tried to redefine Islam and to subordinate it to the interests of global capital by ushering in a new generation of so-called Islamists, chiefly amongst the Arabs. 

The Project to Redefine Islam: Turkey as the New Model and “Calvinist Islam”

Turkey in its present form is now being presented as the democratic model for the rebelling Arab masses to follow. It is true that Ankara has progressed since the days it used to ban Kurdish from being spoken in public, but Turkey is not a functional democracy and is very much a kleptocracy with fascist tendencies.

The military still plays a huge role in the affairs of the state and government. The term “deep state,” which denotes a state run secretly from the top-down by unaccountable bodies and individuals, in fact originates from Turkey. Civil rights are still not respected in Turkey and candidates for public office have to be approved by the state apparatus and the groups controlling them, which try to filter out anyone that would go against the status quo in Turkey.

Turkey is not being presented as a model for the Arabs due to its democratic qualifications. It is being presented as the political model for the Arabs, because of a project of political and socio-economic “bida” (innovation) involving the manipulation of Islam.

Although very popular, the Turkish Justice and Development Party or JDP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi or AKP) was allowed to come into power in 2002, without opposition by the Turkish military and the Turkish courts. Before this there was little tolerance for political Islam in Turkey. The JDP/AKP was founded in 2001 and the timing of their founding and their electoral win in 2002 was also tied to the objective of redrawing Southwest Asia and North Africa.

This project to manipulate and redefine Islam seeks to subordinate Islam to dominant World Order capitalist interests through a new wave of “political Islamism”, such as the JDP/AKP. A new strand of Islam is thereby being fashioned through what has come to be called “Calvinist Islam” or a “Muslim version of the Protestant work ethic.” It is this model that is been nurtured in Turkey and now being presented to Egypt and the Arabs by Washington and Brussels.

This “Calvinist Islam” also has no problem with the “reba” or interest system, which is prohibited under Islam. It is this system that is used to enslave individuals and societies with the chains of debt to global capitalism. It is in this context that the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is calling for so-called “democratic reforms” in the Arab World.

The ruling families of Sauda Arabia and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms are also partners in the enslavement of the Arab world through debt. In this regard Qatar and the Arab sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf are in the process of creating a Middle East Development Bank that is intended to give loans to Arab countries to support their “transition towards democracy”. The democracy promotion mission of the Middle East Development Bank is ironic because the countries forming it are all staunch dictatorships.

It is also this subordination of Islam to global capitalism that is causing internal friction in Iran.

Opening the Door for a New Generation of Islamists

The hope in Washington is that this “Calvinist Islam” will take root with a new generation of Islamists under the banner of new democratic states. These governments will effectively enslave their countries by placing them further into debt and selling national assets. They will help subvert the region extending from North Africa to Southwest and Central Asia as the area is being balkanized and restructured in the image of Israel under ethnocratic systems.

Tel Aviv will also wield wide influence amongst these new states. Hand-in-hand with this project, different forms of ethno-linguistic nationalism and religious intolerance are also being promoted to divide the region. Turkey also plays an important, because it is one of the cradle for this new generation of Islamists. Saudi Arabia too plays a role in supporting the militant wing of these Islamists.

Washington’s Restructuring of the Geo-Strategic Chessboard

Targeting Iran and Syria is part of the larger strategy of controlling Eurasia. Chinese interests have been attacked everywhere on the global map. Sudan has been balkanized and both North Sudan and South Sudan are headed towards conflict. Libya has been attacked and is in the process of being balkanized. Syria is being pressured to surrender and fall into line. The U.S. and Britain are now integrating their national security councils, which parallels Anglo-American bodies from the Second World War.

Targeting Pakistan is also connected to neutralizing Iran and attacking Chinese interests and any future unity in Eurasia. In this regard, the U.S. and NATO have militarized the waters around Yemen. At the same time in Eastern Europe, the U.S. is building its fortifications in Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania to neutralize Russia and the former Soviet republics. Belarus and Ukraine are being put under increasing pressure too. All these steps are part of a military strategy to encircle Eurasia and to either control its energy supplies or the flow of energy towards China. Even Cuba and Venezuela are under increasing threat. The military noose is globally being tightened by Washington.

It appears that new Islamist parties are being formed and groomed by the Al-Sauds with the help of Turkey to take power in Arab capitals. Such governments will work to subordinate their respective states. The Pentagon, NATO, and Israel may even select some of these new governments to justify new wars.

It has to be mentioned that Norman Podhoretz, a original member of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), in 2008 suggest an apocalyptic future scenario in which Israel launches a nuclear war against Iran, Syria, and Egypt amongst its other neighbouring countries. This would include Lebanon and Jordan. Podhoretz described an expansionist Israel and even suggested that the Israelis would militarily occupy the oil fields of the Persian Gulf.

What came across as odd in 2008 was the suggestion by Podhoretz, which was influenced by the strategic analysis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), that Tel Aviv would launch a nuclear attack on its staunch Egyptian allies ruling Cairo under President Mubarak. Despite the fact that the old regime still remains, Mubarak is no longer in power in Cairo. The Egyptian military still gives orders, but Islamists may come to power. This is occuring despite the fact that Islam continues to be demonized by the U.S. and most of its NATO allies.

Unknown Future: What Next?

The U.S., the E.U., and Israel are trying to use the upheavals in the Turko-Arabo-Iranic World to further their own objectives including the war on Libya and the support of an Islamic insurrection in Syria. Along with the Al-Sauds, they are attempting to spread “fitna” or division amongst the peoples of Southwest Asia and North Africa. The Israeli-Khaliji strategic alliance, formed by Tel Aviv and the ruling Arab families in the Persian Gulf, is crucial in this regard.

In Egypt the social upheaval is far from over and the people are become more radical. This is resulting in concessions by the military junta in Cairo. The protest movement is now starting to address the role of Israel and its relationship to the military junta.  In Tunisia too, the popular stream is headed towards radicalization.

Washington and its cohorts are playing with fire. They may think that this period of chaos presents an excellent opportunity for confrontation with Iran and Syria. The upheaval that has taken root in the Turko-Arabo-Iranic World will have unpredictable results. The resilience of the peoples in Bahrain and Yemen under the threats of increased state-sponsored violence indicates the articulation of more cohesive anti-US and Anti-Zionist protest movement.

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).