[Marxism] After The Big Gaddafi - Welcome to Libya's 'democracy' by Pepe Escobar

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Thu Aug 25 12:12:45 MDT 2011


*The Big Gaddafi has barely left the building - the Bab-al-Aziziyah 
compound - and the Western vultures are already circling overhead; the 
scramble is on to seize the "big prize" - Libya's oil and gas wealth. [1]

Libya is as much a pawn in a serious ideological, geopolitical, 
geo-economic and geostrategic chessboard as a pedestrian morality play 
sold as a TV reality show; idealistic "rebels" win against Public Enemy 
Number One. Once the public enemy was Saddam Hussein, then it was Osama 
bin Laden, today is Muammar Gaddafi, tomorrow is President Bashar 
al-Assad in Syria, one day it will be Iran's President Mahmud 
Ahmadinejad. The enemy is never the ultra reactionary House of Saud.

How NATO won the war
The spectacular reappearing act of Gaddafi's son Saif al-Gaddafi 
notwithstanding, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has 
virtually won the Libyan civil war (or "kinetic military activity", 
according to the White House). The masses of "Libyan people" were 
spectators at best, or bit part actors in the form of a few thousand 
"rebels" carrying kalashnikovs.
The top billing was R2P ("responsibility to protect"). From the 
beginning R2P, manned by France and Britain and backed by the US, 
magically turned into regime change. That led to the unsung stars in 
this production being Western and monarchical Arab "advisers", as in 
"contractors" or "mercenaries".

NATO started winning the war by launching Operation Siren at Iftar - the 
break of the Ramadan fast - last Saturday evening, Libya time. "Siren" 
was the codename for an invasion of Tripoli. That was NATO's final - and 
desperate - power play, after the chaotic "rebels" had gone nowhere 
after five months of fighting Gaddafi's forces.

Until then, NATO's plan A was to try to kill Gaddafi. What R2P 
cheerleaders - left and right - had dubbed "steady NATO attrition" 
boiled down to praying for three outcomes; Gaddafi killed, Gaddafi 
surrenders, Gaddafi flees.

Not that any of this prevented NATO bombs from falling in private homes, 
universities, hospitals or even close to the Foreign Ministry. 
Everything - and everyone - was a target.

"Siren" featured a colorful casting of "NATO rebels", Islamist fanatics, 
gullible embedded journalists, TV-friendly mobs, and Cyrenaica youth 
manipulated by opportunist Gaddafi regime defectors eyeing fat checks by 
oil giants Total and BP.

With "Siren", NATO came out all guns (literally) blazing; Apache 
gunships firing nonstop and jets bombing everything in sight. NATO 
supervised the landing of hundreds of troops from Misrata on the coast 
east of Tripoli while a NATO warship distributed heavy weapons.

On Sunday alone there may have been 1,300 civilian deaths in Tripoli, 
and at least 5,000 wounded. The Ministry of Health announced that 
hospitals were overflowing. Anyone who by that time believed relentless 
NATO bombing had anything to do with R2P and United Nations Resolution 
1973 was living in an intensive care unit.

NATO preceded "Siren" with massive bombing of Zawiya - the key 
oil-refining city 50 kilometers west of Tripoli. That cut off Tripoli's 
fuel supply lines. According to NATO itself, at least half of Libya's 
armed forces were "degraded" - Pentagon/NATO speak for killed or 
seriously wounded. That means tens of thousands of dead people. That 
also explains the mysterious disappearance of the 65,000 soldiers in 
charge of defending Tripoli. And it largely explains why the Gaddafi 
regime, in power for 42 years, then crumbled in roughly 24 hours.

NATO's Siren call - after 20,000 sorties, and more than 7,500 strikes 
against ground targets - was only made possible by a crucial decision by 
the Barack Obama administration in early July, enabling, as reported by 
The Washington Post, "the sharing of more sensitive materials with NATO, 
including imagery and signals intercepts that could be provided to 
British and French special operations troops on the ground in addition 
to pilots in the air".

That is, without the Pentagon's unmatched firepower know-how, satellites 
and drones, NATO would still be engaged in Operation Quagmire Forever - 
and the Obama administration would not be able to milk a major victory 
in this "kinetic" drama.

Who are these people?

Who are these people who suddenly erupted in joy on US and European 
television screens? After the smiles to the cameras and the Kalashnikovs 
shooting the skies, get ready for some major fratricidal fireworks.

Ethnic and tribal trouble is bound to explode. Many of the Berbers from 
the Western mountains, who entered Tripoli from the south this past 
weekend, are hardcore Salafis. Same with the Muslim Brotherhood/Salafi 
nebula from Cyrenaica, which has been instructed by US Central 
Intelligence Agency (CIA) boots on the ground. As much as these 
fundamentalists "used" the Europeans and the Americans to get close to 
power, they may become a nasty guerrilla force if they are marginalized 
by the new NATO masters.

A large Benghazi-based "revolution" sold to the West as a popular 
movement was always a myth. Only two months ago the armed 
"revolutionaries" barely numbered 1,000. NATO's solution was to build a 
mercenary army - including all sorts of unsavory types, from former 
Colombian death squad members to recruiters from Qatar and the United 
Arab Emirates (UAE), who pinched scores of unemployed Tunisians and 
tribals disgruntled with Tripoli. All these on top of the CIA mercenary 
squad - Salafis in Benghazi and Derna - and the House of Saud squad - 
the Muslim Brotherhood gang.

It's hard not to be reminded of the UCK drug gang in Kosovo - the war 
NATO "won" in the Balkans. Or of the Pakistanis and Saudis, with US 
backing, arming the "freedom fighters" of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Then there's the dodgy, Benghazi-based, Transitional National Council 
(TNC)'s cast of characters.

The leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, Gaddafi's justice minister from 2007 
until his resignation on February 26, studied /sharia/ and civil law at 
the University of Libya. That might entitle him to cross rhetorical 
swords with the Islamic fundamentalists in Benghazi, al-Baida and Delna 
- but he could use his knowledge to press their interests in a new 
power-sharing arrangement.*. *

As for Mahmoud Jibril, the chairman of the council's executive board, he 
studied at Cairo University and then the University of Pittsburgh. He's 
the key Qatari connection - having been involved in asset management for 
Sheikha Mozah, the ultra high-profile wife of the emir of Qatar.

There's also the son of the last monarch of Libya, King Idris, deposed 
by Gaddafi 42 years ago (with no bloodshed); the House of Saud would 
love a new monarchy in northern Africa. And the son of Omar Mukhtar, the 
hero of the resistance against Italian colonialism - a more secular figure.

The new Iraq?

Yet to believe that NATO would win the war and let the "rebels" control 
power is a joke. Reuters has already reported that a "bridging force" of 
around 1,000 soldiers from Qatar, the Emirates and Jordan will arrive in 
Tripoli to act as police. And the Pentagon is already spinning that the 
US military will be on the ground to "help to secure the weapons". A 
nice touch that already implies who's going to be really in charge; the 
"humanitarian" neo-colonialists plus their Arab minions.

Abdel Fatah Younis, the "rebel" commander killed by the rebels 
themselves, was a French intelligence asset. He was killed by the Muslim 
Brotherhood faction - just when the Great Arab Liberator Sarkozy was 
trying to negotiate an endgame with Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi's London 
School of Economics son now back from the dead.

So the big winners in the end are London, Washington, the House of Saud 
and the Qataris (they sent jets and "advisers", they are already 
handling the oil sales). With a special mention for the compound 
Pentagon/NATO - considering that Africom will finally set up its first 
African base in the Mediterranean, and NATO is one step closer to 
declaring the Mediterranean "a NATO lake".

Islamism? Tribalism? These may be Libya's lesser ills compared to a new 
fantasyland open to neo-liberalism. There are few doubts the new Western 
masters won't try to revive a friendlier version of Iraq's nefarious, 
rapacious Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), turning Libya into a 
hardcore neo-liberal dream of 100% ownership of Libyan assets, total 
repatriation of profits, Western corporations with the same legal 
standing of local firms, foreign banks buying local banks and very low 
income and corporate taxes.

Meanwhile, the deep fracture between the center (Tripoli) and the 
periphery for the control of energy resources will fester. BP, Total, 
Exxon, all Western oil giants will be gratefully rewarded by the 
transitional council - to the detriment of Chinese, Russian and Indian 
companies. NATO troops on the ground will certainly help to keep the 
council on message.

Oil executives estimate it will take at least a year to get oil 
production back to pre-civil war levels of 1.6 million barrels per day, 
but say annual earnings from oil could reap Tripoli's new rulers some 
US$50 billion annually. Most estimates place oil reserves at 46.4 
billion barrels, 3% of the world's reserves and worth some $3.9 trillion 
at today's oil price. Known gas reserves stand at some 5 trillion cubic 

Thus in the end R2P wins. Humanitarian imperialism wins. The Arab 
monarchies win. NATO as global Robocop wins. The Pentagon wins. But even 
that is not enough for the usual imperial suspects - already calling for 
the deployment of a "stabilization force". And all this while 
lost-the-plot progressives in assorted latitudes continue to hail the 
Holy Alliance of Western neocolonialism, ultra-reactionary Arab 
monarchies and hardcore Salafis.

It ain't over till the fat Arab lady sings. Anyway, on to the next stop; 

1. The Big Gaddafi 
<http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MH20Ak01.html> Asia Times 
Online, August 20.

/Pepe Escobar is the author of/ Globalistan: How the Globalized World is 
Dissolving into Liquid War 
(Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during 
the surge 
His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan 
(Nimble Books, 2009).

/He may be reached at/ pepeasia at yahoo.com.

/To follow Pepe's articles on the Great Arab Revolt, please click here 

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. 
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