PART 1: Insurrection and Military Intervention: The US-NATO Attempted Coup d’Etat in Libya? (2011.03.07)
by Prof Michel Chossudovsky
The US and NATO are supporting an armed insurrection in Eastern Libya, with a view to justifying a “humanitarian intervention”.
This is not a non-violent protest movement as in Egypt and Tunisia. Conditions in Libya are fundamentally different. The armed insurgency in Eastern Libya is directly supported by foreign powers. The insurrection in Benghazi immediately hoisted the red, black and green banner with the crescent and star: the flag of the monarchy of King Idris, which symbolized the rule of the former colonial powers. (See Manlio Dinucci, Libya-When historical memory is erased, Global Research, Febraury 28, 2011)
US and NATO military advisers and special forces are already on the ground. The operation was planned to coincide with the protest movement in neighbouring Arab countries. Public opinion was led to believe that the protest movement had spread spontaneously from Tunisia and Egypt to Libya.
The Obama administration in consultation with its allies is assisting an armed rebellion, namely an attempted coup d’Etat:
“The Obama administration stands ready to offer “any type of assistance” to Libyans seeking to oust Moammar Gadhafi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said [February 27] “we’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well,” Clinton said. “I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.” Efforts are under way to form a provisional government in the eastern part of the country where the rebellion began at midmonth.
The U.S., Clinton said, is threatening more measures against Gadhafi’s government, but did not say what they were or when they might be announced.
The U.S. should “recognize some provisional government that they are trying to set already up…” [McCain]
Lieberman spoke in similar terms, urging “tangible support, (a) no-fly zone, recognition of the revolutionary government, the citizens’ government and support for them with both humanitarian assistance and I would provide them with arms.”
(Clinton: US ready to aid to Libyan opposition – Associated, Press, February 27, 2011, emphasis added)
The Planned Invasion
A military intervention is now contemplated by US NATO forces under a “humanitarian mandate”.
–“The United States is moving naval and air forces in the region” to “prepare the full range of options” in the confrontation with Libya: Pentagon spokesperson Col. Dave Lapan of the Marines made this announcement [March 1]. He then said that “It was President Obama who asked the military to prepare for these options,” because the situation in Libya is getting worse.” ( Manlio Dinucci, Preparing for “Operation Libya”: The Pentagon is “Repositioning” its Naval and Air Forces…, Global Research, March 3, 2011, emphasis added)
The real objective of “Operation Libya” is not to establish democracy but to take possession of Libya’s oil reserves, destabilize the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and eventually privatize the country’s oil industry, namely transfer the control and ownership of Libya’s oil wealth into foreign hands. The National Oil Corporation (NOC) is ranked 25 among the world’s Top 100 Oil Companies. (The Energy Intelligence ranks NOC 25 among the world’s Top 100 companies. – Libyaonline.com)
Libya is among the World’s largest oil economies with approximately 3.5% of global oil reserves, more than twice those of the US. (for further details see Part II of this article, “Operation Libya” and the Battle for Oil)
The planned invasion of Libya, which is already underway is part of the broader “Battle for Oil”. Close to 80 percent of Libya’s oil reserves are located in the Sirte Gulf basin of Eastern Libya. (See map below)
The strategic assumptions behind “Operation Libya” are reminiscent of previous US-NATO military undertakings in Yugoslavia and Iraq.
In Yugoslavia, US-NATO forces triggered a civil war. The objective was to create political and ethnic divisions, which eventually led to the break up of an entire country. This objective was achieved through the covert funding and training of armed paramilitary armies, first in Bosnia (Bosnian Muslim Army, 1991-95) and subsequently in Kosovo (Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), 1998-1999). In both Kosovo and Bosnia, media disinformation (including outright lies and fabrications) were used to support US-EU claims that the Belgrade government had committed atrocities, thereby justifying a military intervention on humanitarian grounds.
Ironically, “Operation Yugoslavia” is now on the lips of US foreign policy makers: Senator Lieberman has “likened the situation in Libya to the events in the Balkans in the 1990s when he said the U.S. “intervened to stop a genocide against Bosnians. And the first we did was to provide them the arms to defend themselves. That’s what I think we ought to do in Libya.” (Clinton: US ready to aid to Libyan opposition – Associated, Press, February 27, 2011, emphasis added
The strategic scenario would be to push towards the formation and recognition of an interim government of the secessionist province, with a view to eventually breaking up the country.
This option is already underway. The invasion of Libya has already commenced.
“Hundreds of US, British and French military advisers have arrived in Cyrenaica, Libya’s eastern breakaway province,… The advisers, including intelligence officers, were dropped from warships and missile boats at the coastal towns of Benghazi and Tobruk” (DEBKAfile, US military advisers in Cyrenaica, February 25, 2011)
US and allied special forces are on the ground in Eastern Libya, providing covert support to the rebels This was recognized when British SAS Special Forces commandos were arrested in the Benghazi region. They were acting as military advisers to opposition forces:
” Eight British special forces commandos, on a secret mission to put British diplomats in touch with leading opponents of Col Muammar Gadaffi in Libya, ended in humiliation after they were held by rebel forces in eastern Libya, The Sunday Times reported today.
The men, armed but in plain clothes, claimed they were there to check the opposition’s needs and offer help.” (Top UK commandos captured by rebel forces in Libya: Report, Indian Express, March 6, 2011, emphasis added)
The SAS forces were arrested while escorting a British “diplomatic mission” which entered the country illegally (no doubt from a British warship) for discussions with leaders of the rebellion. The British foreign office has acknowledged that “a small British diplomatic team [had been] sent to eastern Libya to initiate contacts with the rebel-backed opposition”. U.K. diplomatic team leaves Libya – World – CBC News, March 6, 2011).
Ironically, the reports not only confirm Western military intervention (including several hundred special forces), they also acknowledge that the rebellion was firmly opposed to the illegal presence of foreign troops on Libyan soil:
“The SAS’s intervention angered Libyan opposition figures who ordered the soldiers to be locked up on a military base. Gadaffi’s opponents fear he could use any evidence of western military interference to rally patriotic support for his regime.” (Reuters, March 6, 2011)
The captured British “diplomat” with seven special forces soldiers was a member of British Intelligence, an MI6 agent on a “secret mission”. (The Sun, March 7, 2011)
Confirmed by US NATO statements, weapons are being supplied to opposition forces. There are indications although no clear evidence so far that weapons were delivered to the insurgents prior to the onslaught of the rebellion. In all likelihood, US NATO military and intelligence advisers were also on the ground prior to the insurgency. This was the pattern applied in Kosovo: special forces supporting and training the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the months prior to the 1999 bombing campaign and invasion of Yugoslavia.
As events unfold, however, Libyan government forces have regained control over rebel positions:
“The big offensive pro-Qaddafi forces launched [March 4] to wrest from rebel hands control of Libya’s most important towns and oil centers resulted [March 5] in the recapture of the key town of Zawiya and most of the oil towns around the Gulf of Sirte. In Washington and London, talk of military intervention on the side of the Libyan opposition was muted by the realization that field intelligence on both sides of the Libyan conflict was too sketchy to serve as a basis for decision-making.” (Debkafile, Qaddafi pushes rebels back. Obama names Libya intel panel, March 5, 2011, emphasis added)
The opposition movement is firmly divided regarding the issue of foreign intervention.
The division is between the grassroots movement on the one hand and the US supported “leaders” of the armed insurrection who favor foreign military intervention on “humanitarian grounds”.
The majority of the Libyan population, both the supporters and opponents of the regime, are firmly opposed to any form of outside intervention.
The broad strategic objectives underlying the proposed invasion are not mentioned by the media. Following a deceitful media campaign, where news was literally fabricated without reporting on what was actually happening on the ground, a large sector of international public opinion has granted its unbending support to foreign intervention, on humanitarian grounds.
The invasion is on the Pentagon’s drawing board. It is slated to be carried out irrespective of the demands of the people of Libya including the opponents of the regime, who have voiced their aversion to foreign military intervention in derogation of the nation’s sovereignty.
Naval and Air Force Deployment
Were this military intervention to be carried out it would result in an all out war, a blitzkrieg, implying the bombing of military as well as civilian targets.
In this regard, General James Mattis, Commander of U.S. Central Command, (USCENTCOM), has intimated that the establishment of a “no fly zone” would de facto involve an all out bombing campaign, targeting inter alia Libya’s air defense system:
‘It would be a military operation – it wouldn’t be just telling people not to fly airplanes. ‘You would have to remove air defence capability in order to establish a no-fly zone, so no illusions here.’ (U.S. general warns no-fly zone could lead to all-out war in Libya, Mail Online, March 5, 2011, emphasis added).
A massive US and allied naval power has been deployed along the Libyan coastline.
The Pentagon is moving its warships to the Mediterranean. Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise had transited through the Suez Canal within a few days following the insurrection. ( http://www.enterprise.navy.mil )
U.S. amphibious warships, USS Ponce and USS Kearsarge, have also been deployed in the Mediterranean.
USS Enterprise transits the Suez Canal in Egypt, February 15, 2011, handout photo, U.S. N
400 US Marines have been dispatched to the Greek Island of Crete “ahead of their deployment on warships off Libya” ( “Operation Libya”: US Marines on Crete for Libyan deployment, times of Malta, March 3, 2011).
Meanwhile Germany, France, Britain, Canada and Italy are in the process of deploying war vessels along the Libyan coast.
Germany has deployed three war ships using the pretext of assisting in the evacuation of refugees on the Libya-Tunisia border. “France has decided to send the Mistral, its helicopter-carrier, which, according to the Defense Ministry will contribute to evacuation of thousands of Egyptians.” (Towards the Coasts of Libya: US, French and British Warships Enter the Mediterranean, Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, March 3, 2011) Canada has dispatch (March 2) Navy Frigate HMCS Charlottetown.
Meanwhile, US 17th Air Force, named US Air Force Africa based at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany is assisting in evacuation of refugees. US-NATO air force facilities in Britain, Italy, France and the Middle East are on standby.
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PART 2: “Operation Libya” and the Battle for Oil: Redrawing the Map of Africa (2011.03.09)
by Prof Michel Chossudovsky
The geopolitical and economic implications of a US-NATO led military intervention directed against Libya are far-reaching.
Libya is among the World’s largest oil economies with approximately 3.5% of global oil reserves, more than twice those of the US.
“Operation Libya” is part of the broader military agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia which consists in gaining control and corporate ownership over more than sixty percent of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas, including oil and gas pipeline routes.
“Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, possess between 66.2 and 75.9 percent of total oil reserves, depending on the source and methodology of the estimate.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The “Demonization” of Muslims and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, January 4, 2007) .
With 46.5 billion barrels of proven reserves, (10 times those of Egypt), Libya is the largest oil economy in the African continent followed by Nigeria and Algeria (Oil and Gas Journal). In contrast, US proven oil reserves are of the order of 20.6 billion barrels (December 2008) according to the Energy Information Administration. U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves)
The most recent estimates place Libya’s oil reserves at 60 billion barrels. Its gas reserves at 1,500 billion m3. Its production has been between 1.3 and 1.7 million barrels a day, well below its productive capacity. Its longer term objective is three million b/d and a gas production of 2,600 million cubic feet a day, according to figures of the National Oil Corporation (NOC).
The (alternative) BP Statistical Energy Survey (2008) places Libya’s proven oil reserves at 41.464 billion barrels at the end of 2007 which represents 3.34 % of the world’s proven reserves. (Mbendi Oil and Gas in Libya – Overview).
Oil is the “Trophy” of US-NATO led Wars
An invasion of Libya under a humanitarian mandate would serve the same corporate interests as the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. The underlying objective is to take possession of Libya’s oil reserves, destabilize the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and eventually privatize the country’s oil industry, namely transfer the control and ownership of Libya’s oil wealth into foreign hands.
The National Oil Corporation (NOC) is ranked 25 among the world’s Top 100 Oil Companies. (The Energy Intelligence ranks NOC 25 among the world’s Top 100 companies. – Libyaonline.com)
The planned invasion of Libya, which is already underway is part of the broader “Battle for Oil”. Close to 80 percent of Libya’s oil reserves are located in the Sirte Gulf basin of Eastern Libya. (See map below)
Libya is a Prize Economy. “War is good for business”. Oil is the trophy of US-NATO led wars.
Wall Street, the Anglo-American oil giants, the US-EU weapons producers would be the unspoken beneficiaries of a US-NATO led military campaign directed against Libya.
Libyan oil is a bonanza for the Anglo-American oil giants. While the market value of crude oil is currently well in excess of 100 dollars a barrel, the cost of Libyan oil is extremely low, as low as $1.00 a barrel (according to one estimate). As one oil market expert commented somewhat cryptically:
“At $110 on the world market, the simple math gives Libya a $109 profit margin.” (Libya Oil, Libya Oil One Country’s $109 Profit on $110 Oil, EnergyandCapital.com March 12, 2008)
Foreign Oil Interests in Libya
Foreign oil companies operating prior to the insurrection in Libya include France’s Total, Italy’s ENI, The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), British Petroleum, the Spanish Oil consortium REPSOL, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, Hess, Conoco Phillips.
Of significance, China plays a central role in the Libyan oil industry. The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) had until its repatriation a Chinese workforce in Libya of 30,000. British Petroleum (BP) in contrast had a British workforce of 40 which ahs been repatriated.
Eleven percent (11%) of Libyan oil exports are channelled to China. While there are no figures on the size and importance of CNPC’s production and exploration activities, there are indications that they are sizeable.
More generally, China’s presence in North Africa is considered by Washington to constitute an intrusion. From a geopolitical standpoint, China is an encroachment. The military campaign directed against Libya is intent upon excluding China from North Africa.
Also of importance is the role of Italy. ENI, the Italian oil consortium puts out 244,000 barrels of gas and oil, which represents almost 25 percent of Libya’s total exports. ( Sky News: Foreign oil firms halt Libyan operations, February 23, 2011).
Among US companies in Libya, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) decided barely 6 months ago (October 2010) not to renew their oil and gas exploration licenses in Libya. (Why are Chevron and Oxy leaving Libya?: Voice of Russia, October 6, 2010). In contrast, in November 2010, Germany’s oil company, R.W. DIA E signed a far-reaching agreement with Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) involving exploration and production sharing. AfricaNews – Libya: German oil firm signs prospecting deal – The AfricaNews,
The financial stakes as well as “the spoils of war” are extremely high. The military operation is intent upon dismantling Libya’s financial institutions as well as confiscating billions of dollars of Libyan financial assets deposited in Western banks.
It should be emphasised that Libya’s military capabilities, including its air defense system are weak.
Libya Oil Concessions
Redrawing the Map of Africa
Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa. The objective of US-NATO interference is strategic: it consists in outright theft, in stealing the nation’s oil wealth under the disguise of a humanitarian intervention.
This military operation is intent upon establishing US hegemony in North Africa, a region historically dominated by France and to lesser extent by Italy and Spain.
With regard to Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, Washington’s design is to weaken the political links of these countries to France and push for the installation of new political regimes which have a close rapport with the US. This weakening of France is part of a US imperial design. It is a historical process which goes back to the wars in Indochina.
US-NATO intervention leading to the eventual formation of a US puppet regime is also intent upon excluding China from the region and edging out China’s National Petroleum Corp (CNPC). The Anglo-American oil giants including British Petroleum which signed an exploration contract in 2007 with the Ghadaffi government are among the potential “beneficiaries” of the proposed US-NATO military operation.
More generally, what is at stake is the redrawing of the map of Africa, a process of neo-colonial redivision, the scrapping of the demarcations of the 1884 Berlin Conference, the conquest of Africa by the United States in alliance with Britain, in a US-NATO led operation.
The colonial redivision of Africa. 1913
Libya: Strategic Saharan Gateway to Central Africa
Libya has borders with several countries which are France’s sphere of influence including Algeria, Tunisia, Niger and Chad.
Chad is potentially an oil rich economy. ExxonMobil and Chevron have interests in Southern Chad including a pipeline project. Southern Chad is a gateway into the Darfur region of Sudan, which is also strategic in view of its oil wealth.
China has oil interests in both Chad and Sudan. The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) signed a farreaching agreement with the Chad government in 2007.
Niger is strategic to the United States in view of its extensive reserves of uranium. At present, France dominates the uranium industry in Niger through the French nuclear conglomerate Areva, formerly known as Cogema. China also has a stake in Niger’s uranium industry.
More generally, the Southern border of Libya is strategic for the United States in its quest to extend its sphere of influence in Francophone Africa, a vast territory extending from North Africa to Central and Western Africa. Historically this region was part of France and Belgium’s colonial empires, the borders of which were established at the Berlin Conference of 1884.
The US played a passive role at the 1884 Berlin Conference. This new 21st Century redivision of the African continent, predicated on the control over oil, natural gas and strategic minerals (cobalt, uranium, chromium, manganese, platinum and uranium) largely supports dominant Anglo-American corporate interests.
US interference in North Africa redefines the geopolitics of an entire region. It undermines China and overshadows the influence of the European Union.
This new redivision of Africa not only weakens the role of the former colonial powers (including France and Italy) in North Africa. it is also part of a broader process of displacing and weakening France (and Belgium) over a large part of the African continent.
US puppet regimes have been installed in several African countries which historically were in the sphere of influence of France (and Belgium), including The Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. Several countries in West Africa (including Côte d’Ivoire) are slated to become US proxy states.
The European Union is heavily dependent on the flow of Libyan oil. 85 percent of its oil is sold to European countries. In the case of a war with Libya, the supply of petroleum to Western Europe could be further disrupted, largely affecting Italy, France and Germany. Thirty percent of Italy’s oil and 10 percent of its gas are imported from Libya. Libyan gas is fed through the Greenstream pipeline in the Mediterranean (See map below).
The implications of these potential disruptions are far-reaching. They also have a direct bearing on the relationship between the US and the European Union.
Greenstream pipeline linking Libya to Italy
The mainstream media through massive disinformation is complicit in justifying a military agenda which, if carried out, would have devastating consequences not only for the Libyan people: the social and economic impacts would be felt Worldwide.
There are at present three distinct war theaters in the broader Middle East Central Asian region: Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq. In the case of an attack on Libya, a fourth war theater would be opened up in North Africa, with the risk of military escalation.
Public opinion must take cognizance of the hidden agenda behind this alleged humanitarian undertaking, heralded by the heads of state and heads of government of NATO countries as a “Just War”. The Just War theory in both its classical and contemporary versions upholds war as a “humanitarian operation”. It calls for military intervention on ethical and moral grounds against “rogue states” and “Islamic terrorists”. The Just war theory demonizes the Gaddafi regime while providing
The heads of state and heads of government of NATO countries are the architects of war and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. In an utterly twisted logic, they are heralded as the voices of reason, as the representatives of the “international community”.
Realities are turned upside down. A humanitarian intervention is launched by war criminals in high office, who are the guardians of the Just War theory.
Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo,… Civilian casualties in Pakistan resulting from US drone attacks on town and villages, ordered by president Obama are not front page news, nor are the 2 million civilian deaths in Iraq. There is no such thing as a “Just War”.
The history of US imperialism should be understood. The 2000 Report of the Project of the New American Century entitled “Rebuilding Americas’ Defenses” calls for the implementation of a long war, a war of conquest. One of the main components of this military agenda is: to “Fight and decisively win in multiple, simultaneous theater wars”.
Operation Libya is part of that process. It is another theater in the Pentagon’s logic of “simultaneous theater wars”.
The PNAC document faithfully reflects the evolution of US military doctrine since 2001. The US plans to be involved simultaneously in several war theaters in different regions of the World.
While protecting America, namely “National Security” of the United States of America is upheld as an objective, the PNAC report does spell out why these multiple theater wars are required. The humanitarian justification is not mentioned.
What is the purpose of America’s military roadmap?
Libya is targeted because it is one among several remaining countries outside America’s sphere of influence, which fail to conform to US demands. Libya is a country which has been selected as part of a military “road map” which consists of “multiple simultaneous theater wars”. In the words of former NATO Commander Chief General Wesley Clark:
“in the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan…. (Wesley Clark, Winning Modern Wars, p. 130).
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