North Korea officially in a ‘state of war’ with South Korea

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 30, 2013

North Korea announced Friday that relations with South Korea are in a “state of war”, following the surge in tensions between the two countries and sanctions by the United Nations Security Council.

“From now, North-South relations will enter a state of war and matters arising between North and South will be treated accordingly,” communicated the regime at Pyongyang, during a special announcement issued through he state news agency.

In his usual bellicose tone North Korean media published what it said to be a statement from Kim Jong-un, who ordered to set up missiles to strike at “any time” U.S. interests in the region as well as South Korea itself.

In this new announcement, North Korea said that “the situation in which there is neither war nor peace of the Korean peninsula is over.”

The two Koreas have remained technically at war since the end of the conflict that faced them between 1950-1953 and ended with a ceasefire, after which an armistice was signed to avoid further conflict.

The statement published by North Korea also warned of “major combat” beyond the region if South Korea and the U.S. continued their military operations in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. According to KCNA, the special announcement was issued today by the Workers’ Party, ministers and other institutions.

These ads are part of the campaign of threats directed by Pyongyang that directly threaten South Korea and the U.S.. The announcements began last March 7 after the UN approved sanctions against the communist country for running nuclear test in February.

In such sanctions, China, the main ally of North Korea, backed and supported the penalties against Pyongyang, a move that analysts say has deepened the isolation and inability to anticipate North Korea’s unexpected response. This week North Korea announced the suspension of the only line of military communication it had with South Korea and managed access to the Kaesong industrial complex amid escalating tension between the two countries.

The White House licks its fingers and responds

As it was expected, the White House in Washington did not take long to respond to North Korea’s declaration of war. In a statement published Friday, the US government says that the threats are taken ”seriously”. The White House “is serious about these threats and remains in close contact with the South Korean allies,” said the National Security Council’s spokeswoman  Caitlin Hayden.

The White House has made it clear in other opportunities that it has the will and the ability to protect the so-called interests of the United States in the region against threats from North Korea. The United States has military bases in the South Pacific region. U.S. President Barack Obama showed his intention to attack North Korea as he responded to questions from the press this week. In fact, the US is now conducting military exercises with South Korea. “This should be proof enough clear to the international community and the North Koreans that we have the ability and willingness to protect our interests in the region.”

The new Secretary of Defense of the United States, Chuck Hagel, has said that “the very provocative and belligerent actions and tone from North Korea increase the danger of more conflict.” Hagel also defended the decision earlier this month to increase defenses against missile threats from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He insisted that the Pentagon had not  exaggerated in its reaction. “You just need to go wrong once,” said the Secretary of Defense.

The White House reiterated that the “war rhetoric” from North Korea “only deepens the isolation” of that country and that its aim is to resolve current tensions “in a peaceful manner.” “The road to peace is clear to the North Koreans.” The White House has said that Pyongyang must stop its nuclear program, comply with its international obligations and stop its “war rhetoric”.

Russia to the rescue

Today Russia has called both the Koreas as the U.S. to exercise ”maximum restraint and responsibility” in the escalation launched by the Pyongyang regime in recent weeks and that has culminated with the statement that North Korea had entered into a “state of war” with its southern neighbor.

The latest threat of the communist regime of Kim Jong-un follows a series of measures taken in recent weeks, as the placement of missiles in the direction of U.S. bases in the Pacific and cutting military communications with Seoul.

“We hope the two sides exercise maximum restraint and responsibility and that no one exceeds the point of no return,” said Grigory Logvinov, the Russian Foreign senior official in charge of Korean peninsula.

The last movement of Pyongyang does not awaken too many alarms in South Korea, which estimates that “there is not a new threat.”

Not surprisingly, the two Koreas are still technically at war since the end of the Korean conflict in 1953. The South Korean Defense Ministry has merely said his country will repress ”any provocation.”

Syrians attacked with chemical weapons in Aleppo, say reports

Both the Syrian government and the terrorists groups in charge of the conflict in Syria deny using chemical weapons

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 19, 2013

The Syrian government accused rebel militias that vie for control of the country of using chemical weapons in an attack in the southern province of Aleppo. According to the Information Ministry of Syria, 16 people died as a result of the attack.

In previous weeks and months, Western military forces issued a warning about the use of chemical weapons on the civilian population, with U.S. President Barack H. Obama threatening military action if Assad attacked his own people. This attack may then be the beginning of a set up by Western supported insurgents to create an excuse for a full invasion of Syria.

Syrian Information Minister, Omran Al Zoabi, said on Tuesday that the rebels used chemical weapons in an attack on Aleppo in which, in addition to the 16 deaths, mostly civilians, there were at least 86 wounded, mostly in critical condition. “This is a dangerous escalation,” said Al Zoabi on state television in an interview in which he said that Turkey and Qatar, official supporters of the rebels, are responsible for the “legal, moral and political” consequences of the attack.

Several rebel groups rejected the accusations on Tuesday and instead accused the regime of being responsible for the launch of a Scud missile loaded with these materials. “We have no long-range missiles or chemical weapons. If we had them, we would not employ civilians as a target,” said military spokesman Istanbul Lobre Sirius, Louay Muqdad, to AFP.

The regime has, in addition to conventional arsenals, vast reserves of sarin, mustard gas and cyanide. One of the concerns of the international community is that either the regime used these chemical weapons or that terrorists groups linked to the rebels and al-Qaeda in Syria who were brought to fight the Assad regime, get their hands on chemicals weapons handed out to them by Western supporters.

The news agency SANA did not specify what type of chemical weapon were used by the rebels, who the Assad regime has been fighting for over two years and that is composed by terrorists brought in from Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and other neighboring countries. The Syrian war, in which the West is heavily invested, has already claimed the life of more than 70,000 people and caused one of the largest migrations of refugees –more than one million– in the region.

Last week, the head of Israeli military intelligence, Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi, told a conference that he believes Assad is preparing for the use of its chemical arsenals. “Assad retains control over chemical weapons, air force and military equipment from Syria. Assad is making preparations to use these chemical weapons. He has not yet given the order, but is preparing for it,” he said. Israel is said to have requested that the United States attacks Syrian sites where they believe the Assad regime houses its military arsenal.

In August, U.S. President Barack Obama, who tomorrow will visit Israel, warned the Syrian government that if it used chemical weapons against its own people it would face a U.S. military intervention. Until today, the prospect of a chemical attack from the part of the Assad regime has been null, and continues to be, but the use of chemical weapons against civilians –either by Assad or the rebels– is the perfect excuse to invade the country with foreign troops. Several attempts by the United States and some European countries to drive through United Nations resolutions to attack Syria have failed due to the vetoes by Russia and China.

Imposing Sanctions is a Declaration of War

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 8, 2013

If one looks through the list of events that can unleash military conflict between two or more nations, short of an unexpected military attack, sanctions is probably one of the top triggers for aggression. In a world as interconnected as the one we live today, sanctions are not only ineffective in curbing a country’s intention to achieve a goal, as recent history shows, but it is also a dangerous precedent that directly harms the prospect of international diplomacy.

It does not matter whether it is Diplomatic, Economic, Military, Trade or Sports sanctions, countries will always find a way to move around the limitations imposed by say, the United Nations, to get access to raw materials, money, equipment or to form strategic alliances. The only sure outcome that the imposition of sanctions brings is conflict. If anyone believes that Iran’s or North Korea’s threats to attack neighboring nations or western countries is exaggerated and dangerous, it is necessary to ask why would so-called non-aligned nations threaten with nuclear attacks or other forms of retaliation.

Under international law –something western countries love to cite when their interests are at stake, but now when they intend to harm non-aligned nations– sanctions are not only illegal, but also a provocateur action. As established by a 1996 report issued by the International Progress Organization, sanctions of any type, but especially those of the economic type, are “an illegitimate form of collective punishment of the weakest and poorest members of society, the infants, the children, the chronically ill, and the elderly.”

Governments punished with sanctions do not actually suffer any harm. The oligarchical or political classes in a country that is punished with sanctions do not suffer any harm, either. In fact, despite imposing sanctions, many supporters of such a tool of aggression continue to trade raw materials, military equipment and other products with sanctioned nations.

Although aggressor nations such as the United States, France, Germany, Italy and other that support sanctions on non-aligned countries claim that sanctions are the only way to stop a country from doing something they do not agree with, the truth is that as it is shown with every new round of sanctions, the next step is usually more conflict, more isolation and more suffering for the poorest people. Thus, sanctions are a step towards war, not towards peaceful solutions to bilateral or multilateral conflict.

The first step that needs to be taken to diplomatically solve a bilateral or multilateral problem is to avoid imposing sanctions or to remove all sanctions that already exist. This is so not only because punishment is not a positive incentive to negotiate, but also because no smart leader will seat to debate what to do about any issue with most of his or her people dying of hunger, disease or with an economy that is in the hole due to limitations imposed by aggressors. Of course, it is also possible that dictatorial regimes use sanctions and aggression from outside to manipulate the population in order to amass power, as it happens in North Korea, for example.

So what to make of North Korea’s latest threats towards the United States and its allies, after they met and voted in favor of imposing even more sanctions on that country? North Korea responded to the latest round of sanctions from the U.N. Security Council, which attempts to hurt the regime so it stops working on its nuclear program by directly threatening the United States with a preemptive nuclear attack if it continues to push for more aggression. Pyongyang also threatened South Korea in the last few days by saying it will abolish the armistice agreement that stopped the Korean War in 1953.

The latest round of sanctions imposed on North Korea, the U.N. Security Council says, is a response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test, which incidentally were a reaction to the joint military drills conducted by the United States and South Korea. These drills occur every year and Kim Jong Un has cataloged them as a direct threat to his country.

An interesting premise for a complete analysis of this situation would be to invert reality and suppose that Cuba agrees to carry out military drills together with Iran or Venezuela somewhere in the Caribbean or a few hundred miles off the coast of Florida. How comfortable would the United States be? How would Washington react if one of its dearest enemies comes by to run drills with nations located close to its coast?

If sanctions imposed on Iraq, Syria and Libya did not yield positive results –the final outcome was war, which is what they are supposed to avoid–, if sanctions have not worked against Iran and certainly have not worked against North Korea, why are imperialist western powers still imposing more sanctions on third world nations? Is it not abundantly clear that sanctions is not one of the best tools to curb a country’s appetite for whatever western powers dislike? The answer is, conflict is everything that those who control western nations want to have, because it furthers their agenda to divide and conquer, to balkanize and bring unrest to nations that, just as they do, have the natural right to defend themselves if directly or indirectly threatened.

Having said that, it is clear that power drunk men such as Kim Jong Un, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Barack Obama should not be simply left alone or much less encouraged to do what they please with their war toys. If dictators are taken down in the East, they should also be removed in the West. Or is that the threat posed by a dictator in the West is less dangerous just because he is a western educated ‘sane’ man?

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AFRICOM forces to invade Mali after U.N. approved France’s proposal

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | DECEMBER 21, 2012

The Security Council of the U.N. unanimously approved Thursday a resolution authorizing the deployment of an international military force (USAFRICOM) to rebuild the Mali Army, which the U.N. says, was weakened after the coup of March 2011. The U.N. approved a military intervention in the northern region of Mali to “fight a terrorist groups linked to Al Qaeda”. Meanwhile, in Libya and Syria, the United States and European nations have helped strengthen al-Qaeda’s and used them as allies to bring down the governments in those countries.

The proposal, drafted by France, proposes a military deployment for at least one year. This military force will consist of soldiers from neighboring African countries. The role of European and other countries will provide external support and assist in the reconstruction of Mali. This is the typical writing anyone can find in all documents drafted by United Nations members which are usually approved to intervene anywhere in the planet. Humanitarian aid, external support, special training, and so on, are some of the many excuses given by the U.N. to facilitate the entrance of foreign armies into poor or war ravaged countries.

As we know, they U.N. has never successfully brought peace to any population since it was created in the mid 20th century. Military intervention or assistance has never work and will never work, because none of the African nations that suffer from civil war or attacks from supposed terrorist groups can be reconstructed by using military power.

The role of the military sent to Mali will rebuild and train the country’s army, so as to be able to deal with the groups operating in the north. As it happens most of the time, only the United Nations Security Council has the power to decide when the training is sufficient to initiate military operations in the area. Note that the U.N. isn’t attempting to use the international military force to deliver clean water or food to the region through a real humanitarian aid program, but trying to boost the military conflict by training an army and giving them the weapons to conduct more military operations.

The text approved by the U.N. also has a political dimension in which it requests the country’s leader Bamako to launch a “political dialogue to restore constitutional order” and to organize presidential elections scheduled for April 2013. In Mali there is a power vacuum since an attempted coup of the Army last March. By no means did the United Nations called for intervention last March. Instead, it let the coup happen so that western military forces now have an excuse to invade yet another African country, so that the military industrial complex has yet another market for its weapons, so that the conquering forces of the West have an excuse to ransack and extinguish lives in Mali.

The state has been unable to fight terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda, which as everyone knows was created by the United States in the 1970s. Al-Qaeda has grown in strength all over Africa absorbing terrorist groups which act as the rulers over vast territories in the north of the African continent. The European Union has shown its concern about the existence of a country located at the gates of the old continent  which in practice means a potential Afghanistan under Taliban rule, that could be a breeding ground for terrorist groups.

French President François Hollande, made this issue a priority at the last UN General Assembly. Recently, it has been the U.S. military leadership which has pushed to use force in the area, but now the Europeans have also sounded the bell and the decision was made to invade. Resolution 2085 does not set a timetable for a possible offensive against Islamist groups, which means that any option is on the table and that this conflict could become and open-ended front for another military conflict in the region.

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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).