Monday, August 22, 2011

A New Libya?

It was announced late last night that the rebels were in Tripoli and this morning the world is declaring a rebel victory, though there is still some fighting that is going on.

So, the question that must be asked now is what is going to occur in this new Libya? While many are hoping for democratic change, NATO already had plans for this, that included "proposals for a 10,000-15,000 strong 'Tripoli task force', resourced and supported by the United Arab Emirates, to take over the Libyan capital, secure key sites and arrest high-level Gaddafi supporters" and is deeply reliant "on the defection of parts of the Gaddafi security apparatus to the rebels after his overthrow." (Germany may also be sending in troops as well.) Unlike in Iraq, the US plans to keep former Gaddafi regime members and use them to build a pro-Western Libya. However, due to the inclusion of former regime members, one must wonder how much change will truly occur? Will there be a an ousting of one oppressive regime to only be replaced by another oppressive regime?

It is being shown that the EU and NATO are going to play a major role in the future of Libya:
On Sept. 1, Mr. Lesser [of the German Marshall Fund] will take over as the new director of the key think tank’s Brussels office. Libya will immediately be a top item on his agenda, he said.
NATO will “try from an institutional point of view to capture this as a success for the coalition,” said Mr. Lesser. “But there is a second phase of NATO involvement.” Just because Col. Gadhafi “is on his heels, it doesn’t mean that the potential for ongoing instability isn’t very high.” [...]
The stakes for the EU to get it right are high. “One has to consider the possibility that it’s continuing chaos,” said Mr. Lesser. “There are groups within these rebels we would not like to see come to power.”
Already, Western economic interests are at work as an Italian oil company returns to resume its activities in Libya. There are also greater economic concerns as
those who backed the anti-Gaddafi forces can expect to have greater access to them, including those like Qatar’s national oil company, while the rebels are warning Russian and Chinese firms can expect contract revisions. 
“We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil,” said Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO. 
About 75 Chinese companies operated in Libya before the war, involving about 36,000 staff and 50 projects, according to Chinese media. 
Russian companies, including oil firms Gazprom Neft and Tatneft, also had projects worth billions of dollars in Libya. Brazilian firms such as Petrobras and construction company Odebrecht were also in business there. 
“We have lost Libya completely,” Aram Shegunts, director general of the Russia-Libya Business Council, told Reuters. “Our companies will lose everything there because NATO will prevent them from doing their business in Libya.” (emphasis added)
This works quite well for the US and Europe as they have effectively taken China and Russia out of the Libyan oil market, thus they no longer have to worry about oil competitors.

However, there are still problems that need to be addressed, such as the divisions within the Libyan rebels as well as terrorist and radical Islamic links that some rebels have. (Some even argue that Libya could become a haven for Al Qaeda.)

Finally, there is the legal aspect of the entire situation. Both sides have been accused of war crimes, however, it seems that only Gaddafi and his loyal regime members will face any trial at all, while the Libyan rebels get to go free. There is also the question of the UN Security Council Resolution. The resolution clearly allowed all UN members "to take all necessary measures [...] to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,  including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory." This overthrow of the Gaddafi regime was clearly in violation of this resolution.

If the people of Libya and their supporters around the world want a true democracy in Libya, not run by Islamists or Western puppets, then they are going to have to pressure both the new Libyan government as well as the international community to make sure it occurs. If not, there may very well be a manifestation of the old regime, but with a new pro-Western face.

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