Monday, January 4, 2016

West sets out plans for massive invasion of Libya

Libyan women raise red cards during a protest against the national unity government proposed by United Nations envoy Bernardino Leon on October 9, 2015 in Tripoli's central Martyrs Square.

by Stephen Morgan

If you think back to 2011, we were all told that the sole aim of NATO's bombing campaign in Libya was to help establish democracy by helping rebels bring down Gadaffi. If anyone was taken in by this propaganda, then the following news should clarify the real aims of the West in Libya.

It has been reported that British special forces will spearhead a 6,000 strong army of European and US troops to invade Libya in the coming months. The goal will be to take control of Libya's oil fields and defend them from attack by ISIS fighters. At the present moment, ISIS are conducting an attack to take control of the oil ports of Siddra and Ras Lanouf, as well as Brega, which is home to the biggest oil refinery in North Africa.

Quite clearly, the capitalists in the West are furious that their opportunities to profit from Libya's large oil reserves could be taken away from them. Hopes that the NATO intervention would stabilize the country and provide the basis for Western companies to make rich pickings have been dashed.

Oil production and Western profits have already been severely disrupted, since post-Gadaffi Libya disintegrated into waring militia groups. However, for the West to have intervened before now, would have been blatantly motivated by profits alone. Now fighting ISIS has given them the  perfect opportunity to dress up their real aims and interests.

The West has been eying the opportunity to take control of Libya's oil production ever since the civil war began in 2011. Before Gadaffi fell, Libyan oil was supplying 14% of Europe's oil fields. In particular, it supplied 22% of Italian oil, 16% of French and 13% of Spanish. The French and British also had long-term energy interests in exploitation rights and other investments in the country. In the oil sector, France's Total, British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Italy's ENI were making substantial investments in what were potentially the richest reserves of oil and gas in Africa.

But under Gadaffi, the oil industry was controlled by the state, effectively cutting off the possibilities for Western companies to make huge profits. Therefore, removing Gadaffi was the key to unlocking the door to unhampered exploitation of Libya's natural resources.

The US had less direct interests in Libya than other Western countries, and that was the main reason it handed over the responsibility for intervention in the civil war to NATO – principally its two largest military powers, France and Britain. Ever since then, a smaller version of the Sykes-Picot Agreement – by which France and Britain divided up the Middle East into spheres of interest at the end of the 1st World War – has been secretly agreed by the two powers, whereby Libya comes under the control of Britain, and France maintains its dompination in the Mahgreb and West Africa.

France has interests in neighboring Niger, which are threatened by a further de-stabilization of Libya and the growth of ISIS. There is a massive porous and ungovernable border between the two countries which allows extremists to spread through the region. There are rich natural resources to be exploited, including potential oil fields, in both Niger and neighboring Mali, which France invaded in 2013. French mining firms Areva and Vinci control the uranium mines around Arlit in Niger, and it has an estimated that Mali has 5,200 tonnes of untapped uranium sources to tapped.

Of course, this is not to say that there aren't political aims behind the invasion as well, but they tend to overlap with the underlying economic concerns. Increasing production from Libya would not only be a valuable source of profits, but it could also reduce European reliance on Russian oil, in the event of a disruption to supplies caused by increasing tensions between Europe and Russia.

Were Libya and its oil to fall entirely into the hands of ISIS, or even a large part of it, this would enormously strengthen ISIS internationally; The oil fields would be a handsome addition to its funding, which already makes it the richest terrorist group in history.

It was also give ISIS a firmer base to expand into the region and threaten French and British interests elsewhere. ISIS would be in a far better position to increase its activities in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, and, indeed, they could destabilize the whole of Northern Africa.

Southern Libya borders on the Sahel region, of which Niger and Mali are part, and which stretches from the west to the east coast of Africa. It encompasses regions of Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, northern Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea. Its deserts and mountains have provided perfect bases for extremist groups, and the virtual impossibility of policing its borders has the potential to allow jihadist organization to link up across the whole of North Africa, from the Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Sudan, to Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

As always, Western Imperialism will dig its own grave if it intervenes further. Libya is another failed state, which is unlikely to achieve any lasting political and economic stability. In fact, it could disappear altogether. In this context, even if the oil fields are protected from ISIS, and it is forced into retreat, the conditions will continue to exist for it to rebuild, as it did in Iraq.

The Western invasion force is destined to become another army of occupation. Its very presence will be an enormous recruiting sergeant for ISIS. Given the cooperation of many of the other Libyan militias with the West, ISIS will be in a situation where it can put itself forward as the true fighters against Western Imperialism. Defeating the Western invaders will become a cause célèbre of jihadists everywhere and, like Syria, it will attract tens of thousands of more foreign volunteers willing to go and fight there for ISIS. 

Libyan women raise red cards during a protest against the national unity government proposed by United Nations envoy Bernardino Leon on October 9, 2015 in Tripoli's central Martyrs Square.

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