Libya: ‘Market Lords’ Rush In

Human Wrongs Watch

By Osman Sharif in Casablanca

Propelled by oil, ‘reconstruction’ and weapons private corporations, while besieged by a deep financial crisis, European and U.S. governments have already launched a frantic race to take over Libya even before the definite fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

ENI Oil platform | Image: Cipiota

In fact, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has confirmed on August 24th earlier reports that negotiations had started to unfreeze some 100 billion dollars of Gaddafi’s assets in overseas banks, even before his definite fall.

This decision has no precedents, since Europe and the U.S. continue to hold in their banks and territories huge assets belonging to the already ousted Tunisian and Egyptian ousted dictators, just to mention two examples in the region.

In another step to ensure their active role in shaping the new state to be born after Gaddafi, EU and NATO officials had announced that they were preparing to help organise elections, fund Libyan media, set up a court system, and design sound economic policies for growth, development and jobs.

“This is a rich country,” said EU top foreign policy official Catherine Ashton in a statement in Brussels on August. 23rd. “The question is how to get the economy moving again quickly.” The question is instead: which economy?

NATO countries in general, and France, UK and U.S. in particular, seem to have finished their mission—that’s to destroy most of Libya’s infrastructure, while claiming that their exclusive purpose is to help Libyan revolutionaries to topple Gaddafi”, said to this journalist a veteran Libyan diplomat on the condition of anonymity.

Now that they have practically managed to do so after more than five months of bombing, the big multinationals of energy and the so-called “reconstruction” works–let alone the weapons industry, are now racing to control the country,” the retired diplomat stressed.

The Big Business

Oil industry moves enormous amounts of business deals–extraction, refineries, transportation, insurance, distribution, etc–let alone fast-earning speculation operations,” the diplomat stressed.

Similarly, like the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, the “reconstruction” business handles several billions of dollars, benefiting at the end of the day giant private corporations—the same applying to weapons industry. In either cases, the European and U.S. battered economies will receive a much-needed help to recover.”

Asked about the reach of the Libyan National Transitional Council’s commitment to the aspirations and ideals of the Libyan popular revolution, the diplomat said “some of them are sincere and committed—but certainly not all of them. We should not forget that some of the Council’s members served Gaddafi for long years, while others did not oppose him seriously.”

But regardless of their sincerity or loyalty to the revolution, one should not neglect the key fact that the Council has taken “official legitimacy” from Paris, London, Washington and other Western capitals”, the source said, and asked “Should we expect the Council to be really independent and free to say “no” to Western interests? Certainly I wouldn’t.”

Don’t Hijack The Future Of Libyan People”

Along with the retired Libyan diplomat, several Middle East political analysts expressed concern about current developments.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, commented on August 22nd that the Libyan Transitional Council “must remember its role is just that –transitional– and avoid all tactics that prolong its unchecked authority.”

Asked “What about the Western powers – notably France, Britain and the US – where does the ‘success’ in Libya take them?, Bishara said “First and foremost Western leaders need to wipe that smug look from their faces and make sure not to gloat about doing the Arabs any favours.”

After Decades of Complicity, Western Leaders Are To Wipe The Smug Look

Besides, after decades of complicity with Arab dictators, Western powers have much to make up for.”

They inserted themselves in the Libyan revolution after Gaddafi made genocidal threats against his people, but their interference was not necessarily motivated by humanitarian ends, rather more of the same geopolitics that led to befriending Gaddafi, Ben Ali and Mubarak in the first place,” Bishara stressed.

AJ chief political analyst underlined that “the same is true for the rest of North Africa. As a necessary bridge between Egypt and Tunisia, oil-rich Libya could play an important role in coordinating the three countries’ future reconstruction strategies and their relations with the rest of the region and with the West.”

Certainly the NATO aerial bombardment did help, but this was a revolutionaries’ victory par excellence. The battle was won first and foremost in the hearts of the Libyans, just as with the Egyptians and Tunisians before them,” Bishara added.

Be On The Right Side”

That’s not to say that the Libyans should be unappreciative for the extended helping hand. Better to have Western powers on the right side of Arab history for a change. And there is much room for cooperation and coordination in the future, but it should be done on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest, especially that of the Arabs who are in every need of affirmative action,”he said.

Western leaders must also steer away from driving a wedge between those whom they consider moderates and others deemed “Islamists”, as Libya will need cooperation among all its citizens.”

Copyright © 2011 Human Wrongs Watch

This article may be re-published, sourcing to Human Wrongs Watch

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