THE ROVING EYE Sweet crude of mine
By Pepe Escobar
Royals dancing in palace corridors have been spotted in Riyadh. The heir to the
Libyan throne, Prince al-Senussi, a nephew of King Idriss who was deposed by
Muammar Gaddafi and others in a bloodless 1969 military coup, has embarked on a
busy self-promotion campaign, saying he's ready to go back to Libya and even
"lead the country".
Nothing in the world would be sweeter for the House of Saud - extremely
distasteful of most Arab secular republics - than a friendly, brand new emirate
in northern Africa.
But the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the real winners of the
Libyan tribal/civil war, may have other ideas. Mahmoud Jibril - the dodgy
National Transitional Council's prime
minister - speaking in Qatar, has explicitly thanked the winners by name:
France, Britain, the United States, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Of this
top five, the Western top three might welcome, in theory, a pliable emirate -
but as long as it does not exhibit North Waziristan-style ultra-fundamentalist
tendencies, as in Pakistan's tribal area.
It's an open game, because at this stage no one really knows the degree of
influence Islamists will be able to wield in post-Gaddafi Libya. A week from
now, in Paris, some answers might be on the table; that's when the "friends of
Libya" (FOL) will gather with council leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil and prime
minister Jibril to talk business regarding what is gearing up to be a new NATO
Meanwhile, from Benghazi to European capitals, the dancing is to the tune of a
Guns 'n Roses megahit, now rebranded Sweet Crude of Mine. France and Germany
are already pressing the "NATO rebels" leadership for juicy deals, Italy starts
today (Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is meeting Jalil in Milan) and the
Brits and the Americans are about to join the fray.
Up to now, Libya's National Oil Company was essentially awarding service
contracts on old, profitable oil fields to Libya's national subsidiaries. But
what BP, Total, Exxon Mobil and the Qatar oil company really want is serious
involvement in new fields, and those famous production-sharing agreements
(PSAs) that allow stratospheric profits. They want the full bonanza they didn't
get in Iraq - where some of the juiciest contracts went to Russian, Chinese or
As for those players that were already on Libyan soil, such as Spain's Repsol
and Italy's ENI, they are planning to be back in business before the end of
September. No one knows what will happen to Chinese investments.
What WikiLeaks had already revealed  will certainly be back in the form of
dogfights, such as between US companies and Italy's ENI for the cream of the
contracts. Largely because of Berlusconi's very tight "bunga bunga" links with
Gaddafi, ENI was already pumping almost 200,000 barrels of oil a day before the
Anyway, from the point of view of corporations linked to the war "winners", no
more Gaddafi is already a surefire guarantee of ultra sweet contracts and an
array of concessions.
Follow the money
On the banking front, WikiLeaks once again had already revealed  that the
privatization of Libya's central bank was regarded as a golden "opportunity"
for US banks. The shadow "rebel" bank facilitated by HSBC in all probability
will take over - obviously not independent as the previous Libya Central Bank
but aligned with the Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the
central bankers' central bank.
So bye-bye to "subversive", unifying Gaddafi ideas such as dumping the US
dollar and the euro so Arab and African nations would start dealing in a new
single currency - the gold dinar. It's crucial to note that most African
nations - and a lot of Arabs - backed up the idea. The only serious contrarians
in the region were South Africa and the Arab League (influenced by the House of
Saud). Obviously Washington and the European Union (EU) were furious - to the
point of calling NATO to the rescue.
It's never enough to remember that in late 2002 Iraq under Saddam Hussein
started accepting payment in euros instead of US dollars for its oil. Everybody
knows what happened next. Don't mess with the petrodollar, or else ...
So the oil and the flow of money will be secure in the hands of the "winners".
Now for the strategic design. The Pentagon's Africom - after its first
successful African war - will be rewarded with its first African base, thus
abandoning its headquarters in that lovely African bush, Stuttgart. And NATO
will proceed in its sacred mission of turning the Mediterranean into a "NATO
lake". Northern Africa is already in the bag; now for the eastern
Mediterranean, to teach a lesson to those pesky Syrians.
Whose flag is this?
To qualify the TNC's cast of characters as "dodgy" is in fact an
understatement. Virtually everyone is "invisible". Few may remember that the
TNC's Jalil was the judge that condemned those Bulgarian nurses to death - a
notorious case in France that warranted muscular intervention by neo-Napoleonic
Nicolas Sarkozy, who even regimented his trophy wife Carla Bruni to seduce the
Big G. After the nurses were freed, Jalil was promoted by Gaddafi to justice
minister, lasting from 2007 until his opportunistic defection last February.
To believe that this motley crew of disgruntled tribals, radical Islamists,
fake "socialists" of the Tony Blair variety, cynical opportunists on the
payroll of oil giants, military defectors and outright thugs will pray in the
altar of "democracy" is a mirage. Not to mention that they invited NATO and
regressive Arab monarchies to bomb their motherland - certainly not where they
live, but "the other side", Tripolitania.
It remains to be seen how most people and tribes in Tripolitania will relate to
the people of Cyrenaica - which they view as lowly country bumpkins - seizing
power. They are already fuming at being degraded in the new Libyan flag - which
is basically the Cyrenaica flag (black rectangle with a white Islam crescent)
with two additional strips, red for Fezzan and green for Tripolitania
No one knows how the next stage of this "kinetic" war that is not a war
(copyright: The White House) will play out. Yet there are serious reasons to
believe this may turn out to be a devastating remix of the 2001 "defeated
Taliban" and 2003 "Mission Accomplished" scenarios.
Bedouins and Berbers, at war, are all about strategic retreat and ambushing.
That is, guerrilla. No one knows what degree of tribal support Gaddafi may
still count on not only around Tripoli but around his fiefdom of Sirte or in
the high desert. Yet it's a sure bet that he'll go the guerrilla way. Whether
he'll end up like Saddam or play "the road goes on forever" like the Taliban is
the $100 billion question (the amount of Libyan funds to be unfrozen by the
"winners"). Quagmire looms.