Libya facing greater intervention by imperialist states
Three years after the massive eight-month bombing campaign against Libya was carried out by the Pentagon and NATO, divisions within the rebel forces that served as ground troops for the imperialist war of regime-change is prompting greater foreign intervention. The seizure of an oil tanker, the Morning Glory, off the coast of Cyprus, by United States commandos and naval forces illustrates what is at stake for Washington in their efforts to remake the North African state.
The oil vessel was claimed to be North Korean-flagged but the Pyongyang denied any knowledge of the ship. Mediterranean waters around Libya are heavily patrolled by Pentagon and NATO warships.
Rebels who are in opposition to the General National Congress neo-colonial regime in Tripoli are holding three ports where oil is exported from Libya. A dispute over economic and political control of the oil-rich eastern region of the country has brought the production and export of oil from Libya to a virtual standstill.
During the era of the Jamahiriya under the leadership of Col. Muammar Gaddafi, Libya produced 1.6 million barrels of oil per day. With unrest escalating over the control of the ports, official figures for exports have declined to approximately 200,000 barrels per day.
Militias which control the ports in the east are threatening to export oil in contravention to the wishes of the GNC in Tripoli. Yet the GNC is weak politically and militarily as represented by the recent coup against Prime Minister Ali Zeidan who was forced out of his position fleeing the country to Europe after his fledging military failed to prevent the Morning Glory from leaving the port of Es Sider.
On March 24 international press agencies were allowed to board the Morning Glory docked at Tripoli. A crew of 21 people was removed and may face prosecution for what is claimed to be an illegal purchase of oil from the country.
“They, (the crew), will be referred to the relevant judicial authorities,” according to Lieutenant Colonel Salim ash-Shwirf, standing on the tanker. “The 21 and the Libyans are in good health but there are some damages at the tanker.” (Reuters, March 23)
“The crew of the oil tanker is now under my authority and is being investigated,” said the neo-colonial Libyan state prosecutor Abdelqadir Radwan. Yet without the intervention of the U.S. Special Forces and the Navy the vessel would have never been returned.
GNC plans for the creation of a new national army in Libya are unfolding at a slow pace. The soldiers are being trained by the U.S. and the European Union.
Consequently, the proposed army will be an outpost of the U.S. Africa Command and NATO, the forces responsible for the overthrow of the Gaddafi government and the destruction of the Libyan society and economy. Plans have also been floated for a more aggressive training program by NATO and the deployment of troops on the southern border of Libya where pro-Gaddafi forces are in control of numerous towns and cities.
Instability in Libya and Hostility Towards Russia Raises Oil Prices
The destruction of the previous political and economic system in Libya has had a devastating impact on the people of this country of 6 million. Prior to the 2011 war of regime-change, Libya enjoyed the highest standard of living in Africa.
Lacking a coherent system of governance and economic production, the overall quality of life inside the country has deteriorated sharply. The constant fighting between the various militias factions has created a highly precarious security situation which consequently impacts production within the major industries.
Libya oil and natural gas production provides supplies of these critical resources to Europe. With the decline in these industries, the price of crude oil has gone up in recent weeks.
The Associated Press reported on March 24 that “The price of oil edged above $100 a barrel Monday as Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Libya’s continued difficulties to stabilize its oil industry worried investors. Russia is a key supplier of crude oil and natural gas to Europe while Libya’s production of crude, valued by refiners for its high quality, has yet to recover fully since the 2011 civil war which ousted Muammar Gadhafi.”
U.S. foreign policy related to various geo-political regions of the world is deepening the existing world capitalist crisis. Resources utilized to maintain these hostile actions towards sovereign states in Africa, Eurasia, the Middle East and Latin America could be re-channeled to rebuild the cities inside the U.S. which are suffering from massive unemployment, pension losses, increasing poverty and declining public services.
Instability within the international petroleum markets inevitably result in higher energy prices in the U.S. A continuing decline in consumer spending in the western industrialized states creates more joblessness and declining wages.
This same Associated Press report noted that “The supply risks should still lend support to the oil prices, for there is no sign as yet of Libyan production recovering,” an expert at Commerzbank in Frankfurt told clients. “Furthermore, if the West were to impose additional sanctions on Russia, this could — at least theoretically — curb Russian oil exports and justify a certain price premium.”
Imperialist Sanctions and War Breed Instability and Poverty
Another illustration of the tense security situation even in the capital of Tripoli, a bomb exploded on the runway at the international airport on March 21. Although there were no reported injuries, the incident reveals that the military and security elements around the GNC are incapable of maintaining order at key installations.
Reuters observed that this location is “Supposedly one of the best guarded places in Libya, unknown people managed to get onto the runway at Tripoli International Airport, plant an explosive device at dawn and detonate it using a timer, Transport Minister Abdelqader Mohammed Ahmed said. Authorities closed the airport, the gateway into Libya, for several hours. There is little traffic after midnight as foreign airlines avoid late flights due to the poor security at night in the capital, where the government is unable to control militias which helped oust long-time leader Gaddafi in 2011 but have kept their guns.” (March 21)
Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Egypt, South Sudan and other areas of the world where the U.S. and NATO have engaged in destabilization operations have only brought about destruction and underdevelopment. With tensions escalating with Russia over the coup in Ukraine and the union between Crimea and Moscow, the imperialist states will seek to impose sanctions and other acts of war in Eurasia.
These developments call for a rejuvenated anti-war and anti-imperialist movement in Western Europe and North America. The danger of additional imperialist wars of regime-change and conquest are all too real.
Demonstrations around the U.S. against the escalation of war provocations against Russia, Venezuela and Syria exposed the fact that not everyone in the U.S. supports the foreign policy imperatives of the Obama administration. The forces supported by Washington in these various regions of the world are fascists and seek to take these countries back into the total political influence of the imperialist states led by the Pentagon and Wall Street.
With the continuing economic decline in the western capitalist states, the ruling class finds no other alternatives outside the imposition of austerity and the escalation of imperialist militarism. Workers and youth must organize against these policies since they provide no future for the majority of people within society.
By Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire