[Marxism] Economics of Imperialism: Libya Up For Grabs

Paul Flewers trusscott.foundation at blueyonder.co.uk
Mon Aug 22 08:17:08 MDT 2011

Tony Norfield's 'Economics of Imperialism' site has just issued a
statement on Libya.

Paul F


Libya is for Everyone?

< http://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.com/ >

These are some factors to bear in mind when assessing the fall of
Gaddafi’s regime in Libya:

1. The European powers are now best placed to gain influence in Libya,
especially Britain, which had already led the way in rehabilitating
Libya back into the imperialist fold under Gaddafi. Britain’s BP had
already struck oil and gas exploration deals with the regime in 2007 –
its ‘single biggest exploration commitment’.[1] Alongside this, the
LSE (latterly dubbed the ‘Libyan School of Economics’ after the Saif
Al-Islam fiasco) was busy mentoring the Libyan elite in the wonders of
‘governance’. This was no doubt encouraged by the UK Foreign Office in
order to gain influence over a new generation of rulers.

2. Libya is a rentier state, with the main spoils from energy revenues
going to Gaddafi and his clan. There was normally enough left to
distribute to other clans to keep them quiet; if not, then political
repression kept the regime in place. However, political unrest grew
after the Arab spring, which appeared to open up the possibility of
regime change to Gaddafi’s disparate clan rivals. Gaddafi was fine for
Britain and other powers while he was unchallenged and was becoming a
stable partner. Post-Tunisia and post-Egypt, he was not.

3. The Libyan Investment Authority had been responsible for investing
surplus oil funds and had assets valued at over $50bn in mid-2010.
Before the sanctions on Libya earlier this year, it had already been
suckered by western banks into loss-making bets on things like Société
Générale shares and investments promoted by Goldman Sachs, and others,
that lost almost all their value. Apart from the potential oil and gas
revenues, control or influence over these funds will also be of great
interest to western powers.

4. The NATO attack on Libya was initially promoted by Britain and
France. Starting out under the usual false flag of ‘humanitarian
intervention’, it quickly became an overt means of promoting regime
change by backing one side in a civil war. The Libyan rebels in
Benghazi quickly fell into the arms of western powers, with British
intervention to open up ‘discussions’ being prominent. Since the end
of July, the National Transitional Council has had an ambassador in
London, after the expulsion of Gaddafi’s staff. The British have also
been releasing previously-frozen Libyan funds held in London to
finance the NTC. Today, the Financial Times reports that Britain’s
office in Benghazi (!) has deployed a UK-led ‘international
stabilisation response team’ to back up the NTC and ‘a separate
British team is helping to build command and control capacity and
assistance including communications kit and police training’.[2]

5. The US provided most of the firepower for the attack on Libya, but
has effectively been sidelined by the British and the French. Italy,
busy with the Berlusconi show, has had little role, despite being the
previous colonial power and having extensive economic and financial
relationships with the country. Over 20% of the Libyan Investment
Authority’s $6bn equity investments are in Italian companies, eg
Unicredit and ENI.

6. So far, Libyan events look like a big success for British
imperialism: regime change to a more pliant group, big deals ahead,
and at a cost of less than £300m for the military budget. But the ‘new
Libya’ will still be fought over by the other powers, and the US will
be unimpressed with spending $1bn to subsidise British strategy.

In the early hours of this morning, speaking on the Libyan
opposition's TV network, Mahmoud Jibril, chairman of the NTC said
‘Libya is for everyone and will now be for everyone’. He meant that
all Libya’s people would now participate in building the country, but
the real message for imperialism is that Libya is now up for grabs.

Tony Norfield, 22 August 2011

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