Scramble for Libyan Oil Reserves

Why are the imperialists so desperate to get rid of Gaddafi and install a pliant regime? This must be seen in the context of the inter imperialist conflicts over the redivision of Africa, rich in natural resources. Libya is one of the few countries in Africa (others are Sudan, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Eritrea) which are not part of AFRICOM, the newest of Pentagon commands for the African and Mediterranean Basin region.

A US delegation arrived in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on April 5, 2011, for talks with the Transitional National Council (TNC), the political arm of the Libyan rebels. The visit follows the announcement by the Italian government on April 4, 2011, recognizing the TNC in Benghazi as the sole legitimate government of Libya. Italy is only the third country to take this step, following recognition of the TNC by France and Qatar.

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini stated, while announcing the recognition, that Paolo Scaroni, the chief executive of the Italian oil and gas company, ENI, had visited Benghazi two days earlier for talks with the TNC. Earlier, on the eve of the US, France and Britain launching their missile and bombing attacks on Libya, Scaroni had derided economic sanctions against the Gaddafi regime as “shooting ourselves in the foot” and stressed ENI’s desire to resume operations in the North African country “whatever political system there is in the future.” The company, which has been active in Libya since 1955, is the top foreign oil operator and the country’s largest foreign investor, having reached a $28 billion deal with the Libyan government in 2007 to extend its contracts for oil production until 2042. The decision of Italy and ENI to now support the TNC, as against their earlier close links with the Gaddafi regime, can be understood in the light of the fact that the US at the head of the imperialist coalition, has rejected ceasefire or peace talks, and declared it will establish a regime of its own choice. Italy wants to be on what it thinks will be the winning side.

The Italian recognition and ENI’s forging of ties with the TNC came just a day before a Liberian-registered oil tanker, owned by a Greek shipping conglomerate, docked at the Libyan crude export terminal of Marsa el-Hariga, near Tobruk. The tanker, the Equator, is capable of carrying 1 million barrels of crude. There are reportedly three million barrels of crude stored at the terminal, which belongs to the Arab Gulf Oil Corporation (AGOCO), a subsidiary of Libya’s National Oil Corporation.

The US has announced that it will take oil from the areas controlled by the TNC. Earlier, the European Union had declared that there was an oil embargo on the whole of Libya. But now, it has changed its position, in line with the US position. This turnaround, combined with the discussions between the Italian oil giant ENI and the TNC shows that a scramble by the major Western powers and energy conglomerates for control of Libyan oil is well under way.

Meanwhile, the US and NATO allies are scrambling for taking over Libya's oil resources (see Box).  It is in this context that the visit to Benghazi by the US delegations—and by French and British ambassadors before it—is taking place. The US envoy is to discuss, among other matters, “the financial needs of the rebel council” and “how the international community can assist”. No doubt, such “assistance” will be tied to lucrative contracts for the American oil industry.

The role of the imperialist controlled media in justifying the war in Libya cannot be condemned enough. They have doctored pictures, and presented reports aimed at portraying the Gaddafi regime as a brutal violator of human rights who has allegedly been ruling only through terror. They refuse to acknowledge that the Libyan people have the right to the economic and political system of their choice. The imperialists want to establish a puppet regime through military intervention, in order to advance their geo strategic interests in the region.

Why are the imperialists so desperate to get rid of Gaddafi and install a pliant regime? This must be seen in the context of the inter imperialist conflicts over the redivision of Africa, rich in natural resources. Libya is one of the few countries in Africa (others are Sudan, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Eritrea) which are not part of AFRICOM, the newest of Pentagon commands for the African and Mediterranean Basin region.

MEL condemns the US-NATO aggression on Libya unequivocally. The Libyan people have every right to determine their economic and political system, free from imperialist dictate. The US-NATO forces must be thrown out of Libya and punished for their crimes against the Libyan people.

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Benghazi    Apr 16-30 2011    World/Geopolitics    War & Peace    

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