THE ROVING EYE Disaster capitalism swoops over Libya
By Pepe Escobar
Think of the new Libya as the latest spectacular chapter in the Disaster
Capitalism series. Instead of weapons of mass destruction, we had R2P
("responsibility to protect"). Instead of neo-conservatives, we had
But the target is the same: regime change. And the project is the same: to
completely dismantle and privatize a nation that was not integrated into
turbo-capitalism; to open another (profitable) land of opportunity for
turbocharged neo-liberalism. The whole thing is especially handy because it is
smack in the middle of a nearly global recession.
It will take some time; Libyan oil won't totally return to the market within 18
months. But there's the reconstruction of everything the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombed (well, not much of what the
Pentagon bombed in 2003 was reconstructed in Iraq ...)
Anyway - from oil to rebuilding - in thesis juicy business opportunities loom.
France's neo-Napoleonic Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's David of Arabia Cameron
believe they will be especially well positioned to profit from NATO's victory.
Yet there's no guarantee the new Libyan bonanza will be enough to lift both
former colonial powers (neo-colonials?) out of recession.
President Sarkozy in particular will milk the business opportunities for French
companies for all they're worth - part of his ambitious agenda of "strategic
redeployment" of France in the Arab world. A compliant French media are
gloating that this was "his" war - spinning that he decided to arm the rebels
on the ground with French weaponry, in close cooperation with Qatar, including
a key rebel commando unit that went by sea from Misrata to Tripoli last
Saturday, at the start of "Operation Siren".
Well, he certainly saw the opening when Muammar Gaddafi's chief of protocol
defected to Paris in October 2010. That's when the whole regime change drama
started to be incubated.
Bombs for oil
As previously noted (see
Welcome to Libya's 'democracy', Asia Times Online, August 24) the
vultures are already circling Tripoli to grab (and monopolize) the spoils. And
yes - most of the action has to do with oil deals, as in this stark assertion
by Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at the "rebel" Arabian Gulf Oil
Company; "We don't have a problem with Western countries like the Italians,
French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia,
China and Brazil."
These three happen to be crucial members of the BRICS group of emerging
economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which are actually
growing while the Atlanticist, NATO-bombing economies are either stuck in
stagnation or recession. The top four BRICs also happen to have abstained from
approving UN Security Council resolution 1973, the no-fly zone scam that
metamorphosed into NATO bringing regime change from above. They saw right
through it from the beginning.
To make matters worse (for them), only three days before the Pentagon's Africom
launched its first 150-plus Tomahawks over Libya, Colonel Gaddafi gave an
interview to German TV stressing that if the country were attacked, all energy
contracts would be transferred to Russian, Indian and Chinese companies.
So the winners in the oil bonanza are already designated: NATO members plus
Arab monarchies. Among the companies involved, British Petroleum (BP), France's
Total and the Qatar national oil company. For Qatar - which dispatched jet
fighters and recruiters to the front lines, trained "rebels" in exhaustive
combat techniques, and is already managing oil sales in eastern Libya - the war
will reveal itself to be a very wise investment decision.
Prior to the months-long crisis that is in its end game now with the rebels in
the capital, Tripoli, Libya was producing 1.6 million barrels per day. Once
resumed, this could reap Tripoli's new rulers some US$50 billion annually. Most
estimates place oil reserves at 46.4 billion barrels.
The "rebels" of new Libya better not mess with China. Five months ago, China's
official policy was already to call for a ceasefire; if that had happened,
Gaddafi would still control more than half of Libya. Yet Beijing - never a fan
of violent regime change - for the moment is exercising extreme restraint.
Wen Zhongliang, the deputy head of the Ministry of Trade, willfully observed,
"Libya will continue to protect the interests and rights of Chinese investors
and we hope to continue investment and economic cooperation." Official
statements are piling up emphasizing "mutual economic cooperation".
Last week, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice president of the dodgy Transitional National
Council (TNC), told Xinhua that all deals and contracts agreed with the Gaddafi
regime would be honored - but Beijing is taking no chances.
Libya supplied no more than 3% of China's oil imports in 2010. Angola is a much
more crucial supplier. But China is still Libya's top oil customer in Asia.
Moreover, China could be very helpful in the infrastructure rebuilding front,
or in the technology export - no less than 75 Chinese companies with 36,000
employees were already on the ground before the outbreak of the tribal/civil
war, swiftly evacuated in less than three days.
The Russians - from Gazprom to Tafnet - had billions of dollars invested in
Libyan projects; Brazilian oil giant Petrobras and the construction company
Odebrecht also had intrests there. It's still unclear what will happen to them.
The director general of the Russia-Libya Business Council, Aram Shegunts, is
extremely worried: "Our companies will lose everything because NATO will
prevent them from doing business in Libya."
Italy seems to have passed the "rebel" version of "you're either with us or
without us". Energy giant ENI apparently won't be affected, as Premier Silvio
"Bunga Bunga" Berlusconi pragmatically dumped his previous very close pal
Gaddafi at the start of the Africom/NATO bombing spree.
ENI's directors are confident Libya's oil and gas flows to southern Italy will
resume before winter. And the Libyan ambassador in Italy, Hafed Gaddur,
reassured Rome that all Gaddafi-era contracts will be honored. Just in case,
Berlusconi will meet the TNC's prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, this Thursday in
Bin Laden to the rescue
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu - of the famed "zero problems with
our neighbors" policy - has also been gushing praise on the former "rebels"
turned powers-that-be. Eyeing the post-Gaddafi business bonanza as well, Ankara
- as NATO's eastern flank - ended up helping to impose a naval blockade on the
Gaddafi regime, carefully cultivated the TNC, and in July formally recognized
it as the government of Libya. Business "rewards" loom.
Then there's the crucial plot; how the House of Saud is going to profit from
having been instrumental in setting up a friendly regime in Libya, possibly
peppered with Salafi notables; one of the key reasons for the Saudi onslaught -
which included a fabricated vote at the Arab League - was the extreme bad blood
between Gaddafi and King Abdullah since the run-up towards the war on Iraq in
It's never enough to stress the cosmic hypocrisy of an ultra-regressive
absolute monarchy/medieval theocracy - which invaded Bahrain and repressed its
native Shi'ites - saluting what could be construed as a pro-democracy movement
in Northern Africa.
Anyway, it's time to party. Expect the Saudi Bin Laden Group to reconstruct
like mad all over Libya - eventually turning the (looted) Bab al-Aziziyah into
a monster, luxury Mall of Tripolitania.