You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. (Pepe Escobar 4/2/11)

Why would the ouster of Qaddafi be such a high priority for the United States? One reason could be that Qaddafi has been leading a Pan-African movement under the auspices of the African Union, similar to the unification effort spearheaded by Hugo Chavez in South America. Libya’s oil revenues have played a large role in supporting Qaddafi’s African initiative, which aims for Africa’s economic empowerment by breaking the vestiges of European economic control of Africa. This is a key reason why Qaddafi enjoys varying degrees of popularity in what is sometimes called “Black Africa.” (Imam Zaid Shakir)

Some of the countries in Africa given an assist by Libya (click to enlarge enough to read)

original graphic here

Nov 24, 2010 (Reuters) – Libya is using money from oil exports to pour aid and investment into its African neighbours, a policy which diplomats and analysts say gives it increasing political clout on the continent.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said earlier this year he was offering to invest $97 billion in the continent to free it from Western influence, on condition that African states rid themselves of corruption and nepotism.

Libya is one of the biggest contributors to the budget of the African Union, the 53-country body which is supposed to function along the lines of the European Union. A senior Libyan diplomat told Reuters Libya is one of five countries — the others are Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa — which cover 75 percent of the union’s budget.

BCA March 15, 2011. By 2002, subsidiaries of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), had accumulated or extended investments in at least 31 countries throughout Africa. The largest investments were in Zambian telecommunications firm Zamtel ($394 million) and in oil storage and pipeline infrastructure linking Moanda to Matadi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (around $300 million). (h/t MoA)

So what exactly is going on? Here’s the deal:

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement in their neighbor in exchange for a “yes” vote by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya – the main rationale that led to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973.

The revelation came from two different diplomats, a European and a member of the BRIC group, and was made separately to a US scholar and Asia Times Online.

… only nine out of 22 members of the Arab League voted for the no-fly zone. The vote was essentially a House of Saud-led operation, with Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa keen to polish his CV with Washington with an eye to become the next Egyptian President.

Thus, in the beginning, there was the great 2011 Arab revolt. Then, inexorably, came the US-Saudi counter-revolution.

Exposed, above all, is the astonishing hypocrisy of the Obama administration, selling a crass geopolitical coup involving northern Africa and the Persian Gulf as a humanitarian operation. As for the fact of another US war on a Muslim nation, that’s just a “kinetic military action”. (Pepe Escobar 4/2/11)

This all fits into the big picture:

In the big picture, the combined role of the Pentagon global tentacles falls under the Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, which aims to prevent any developing nation, or group of nations, from establishing alliances or preferential relationships with both China and Russia. (Pepe Escobar 3/24/11)

I would add that it is not just ties with Russia and China that are the target of full spectrum dominance, it is any south south ties that would strengthen the power of the developing world and its ability to control its own development and destiny. The Pentagon wishes to prevent ties among the countries of Africa, unless they function through its Africa Command. And they also wish to prevent African ties with Brazil and India, who along with Russia and China comprise the BRIC countries.

In the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski:

… the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.

And as Mahmood Mamdani points out:

War furthers many interests. Each war is a laboratory for testing the next generation of weapons. It is well known that the Iraq war led to more civilian than military victims.

The debate then was over whether or not these casualties were intended. In Libya, the debate is over facts. It points to the fact that the US and NATO are perfecting a new generation of weapons, weapons meant for urban warfare, weapons designed to minimise collateral damage.

The objective is to destroy physical assets with minimum cost in human lives. The cost to the people of Libya will be of another type. The more physical assets are destroyed, the less sovereign will be the next government in Libya.

The more a country’s physical assets are destroyed, the less sovereign that country will be, anywhere, any country. This is a great convenience for those who wish to exploit the natural resources of that country.

The West has tried to marginalize the African Union before, in Darfur:

For a time the African Union was able to stabilize the situation, … The European Union, who paid the troop salaries, began to withhold funds on grounds of accountability, and it gradually killed off the peacekeeping operations. … “There is a concerted attempt being made to shift the political control of any intervention force … from inside Africa to outside Africa.” In other words, the U.S. and Europe are eager to control the dynamic of what happens in Africa and not allow an indigenous, inter-state agency to gain either the experience this would provide or the respect it would gain if it succeeds. The African Union has been undermined so that only the U.S. can appear as the savior.

Prof. Sam Hamod believes that undermining the African Union is the main goal of the US/NATO assault on Libya. He writes:

… one of the major reasons the US and EU want to get rid of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. It’s not about “human rights.” That is a cover — they want to stop Qaddafi’s money that is going to form and support the African Union.

Without Qaddafi’s money, there will be no money for African Union peace-keeping forces, no major unity in Africa and no power to stop the continued colonialism of America and the EU from advancing further into Africa.

This is about not only the EU’s desire to control Libyan “sweet crude,” but also about the West’s attempt at stopping the full development of the African Union.

The reports are now public that the US had CIA boots on the ground in LIbya before the military action, that Obama authorized this secretly several weeks ago, and that the rebel leader has longstanding ties to the CIA. He has been living near Langley in Virginia for years. And he doesn’t just live near Langley, he has CIA ties going back to 1987.

A CIA commander for the Libyan rebels
The agency was very familiar with Hifter’s military and political work. A Washington Post report of March 26, 1996 describes an armed rebellion against Gaddafi in Libya and uses a variant spelling of his name. The article cites witnesses to the rebellion who report that “its leader is Col. Khalifa Haftar, of a contra-style group based in the United States called the Libyan National Army.”

A 2001 book, Manipulations africaines, published by Le Monde diplomatique , traces the CIA connection even further back, to 1987, reporting that Hifter, then a colonel in Gaddafi’s army, was captured fighting in Chad in a Libyan-backed rebellion against the US-backed government of Hissène Habré. He defected to the Libyan National Salvation Front (LNSF), the principal anti-Gaddafi group, which had the backing of the American CIA. He organized his own militia, which operated in Chad until Habré was overthrown by a French-supported rival, Idriss Déby, in 1990.

According to this book, “the Haftar force, created and financed by the CIA in Chad, vanished into thin air with the help of the CIA shortly after the government was overthrown by Idriss Déby.” The book also cites a Congressional Research Service report of December 19, 1996 that the US government was providing financial and military aid to the LNSF and that a number of LNSF members were relocated to the United States.

For more on who is sponsoring the rebels, with information on the British and French involvement as well see:
Who are the Libyan Freedom Fighters and Their Patrons?

So far the rebel forces don’t amount to much. If there is to be a war of rebellion, it will have to be entirely created by the United states, recruiting, arming, and training. The rebels are measured in the hundreds, not thousands:

The rebels are comprised of drivers, teachers, businessmen and other inexperienced fighters striving to shift from being protesters to infantry riflemen.

There is a small group of so-called Special Forces who appear to lead the rebels’ efforts at building a military operation, but they’re only slightly better equipped and trained than the great mass of anti-Gadhafi fighters.

The inexperience is evident: Many, if not most, rebels flee when actual fighting begins. Without allied airstrikes — there were none here on Tuesday — there is no moving forward.

The closer the sounds, the more panicked they became. The flank on the ridge collapsed in minutes as the rebels drove back. Most it turned out had no intention of fighting when it mattered.

Qaddafi is always problematic, even while saying and doing things that are of great benefit, his other words and actions make one cringe. But one can dislike Qaddafi and still understand Libya is a sovereign country.

Certainly, Qaddafi is no angel – likewise Slobodan Milošević and Saddam Hussein were guilty of despotism, crimes against humanity and more. But those who make such charges miss the irony of their rhetoric, given that they support the unbridled use of violence by far more powerful military forces against largely civilian populations, leading to death tolls that far exceed those committed by the puppet dictators they seek to overthrow. That these dictators and despots committed their own atrocities with weapons supplied by Western nations is never mentioned, for doing so would lay bare their hypocrisy. “We must kill to avoid killing,” is the ideology they promote, oblivious to the inherent contradiction that lies within.

And of course, there’s little mention of the genuinely brutal oppression in places like Bahrain, where the Saudi military were called in to massacre protesters there, or the recent outbreak of airstrikes and incursions into Gaza by the IDF over the weekend. Because they’re our “allies” and their crimes – like our own – are completely permissible.
(Andy Dilks)

Libya has the largest estimated oil reserves of any African country. It is also the former home of a US military base, and the US would really like to start basing its Africa Command in Africa.

Qaddafi’s Pan-African effort coincides with the rising economic role of China in Africa. Since 2001, trade between Africa and China has increased from $10 billion to more than $110 billion. The United States has noticed the growing influence of Libya and China in Africa and has responded, in part, by establishing a new American military command for Africa (AFRICOM) in 2006. A critical objective of AFRICOM is to unite the continent’s 53 countries into a unified, pro-American strategic and economic zone, which would involve both regime changes and “humanitarian” interventions to stabilize the continent. Some critics of U.S. policy in Africa say the ultimate objective of AFRICOM is to ensure that America—and not China—becomes the principal foreign beneficiary of Africa’s tremendous wealth.

To date, no African nation has agreed to serve as the hosting country for AFRICOM’s primary base. All of that could change with the emergence of a post-Qaddafi regime in Libya that owes its existence to the US-led intervention. It should be noted that Libya was the home of Wheelus Air Base, the largest American military installation in Africa, before the coup orchestrated by Qaddafi against King Idris in 1969.

While nationalization significantly curtailed the development of Libya’s petroleum and gas resources, Qaddafi has sought to expand exploration and production in partnership with major western oil companies in recent years. The Libyan national oil company, however, still controls the terms of trade, which most western companies view as prohibitive. Western energy companies consider Libya a risky investment climate and are seeking better terms from the Libyan regime. Optimal terms [for the west] could only be obtained by something similar to an “Iraq oil law,” which remains unlikely in Libya while the Qaddafi-led regime is in power. A regime change is likely viewed by many foreign firms as a means to completely opening up access to Libya’s petrochemical resources.

For France, the conflict in Libya offers an opportunity to reassert its control over Niger’s uranium deposits, a critical goal for a country that relies on nuclear power as its primary source of electricity. For decades, France had a monopoly over Niger’s uranium production. Today, France still imports 40% of its uranium from Niger, where it is currently completing the world’s largest uranium mine. (Imam Zaid Shakir)

Humanitarian intervention, particularly the military version, is seldom humanitarian.

Iraq and Afghanistan teach us that humanitarian intervention does not end with the removal of the danger it purports to target.

It only begins with it. Having removed the target, the intervention grows and turns into the real problem. This is why to limit the discussion of the Libyan intervention to its stated rationale – saving civilian lives – is barely scratching the political surface. (Mahmood Mamdani)

Charles Onyango-Obbo in No-fly zone strikes terror in African leaders’ hearts, courtesy of Roger Pociask, discusses the reaction to the assault on Libya from African leaders. Some of them are experiencing a bit of buyers remorse, particularly Nigeria and South Africa who helped approve UN Resolution 1973. He says the public reaction of African leaders can be guaged by how much money they receive from the US. Even so, pro-US leaders feel that the US and NATO have overstepped their authority and are seeking regime change. In West Africa particularly, there is fear of the spillover of violence from Libya into nearby countries.

Some thinkers I have read recently think that the fall of Qaddafi and the end of his financial support will mean the end of Pan-Africanism. Others think that this deliberate assault on Libya will create a resurgence of Pan-African activism. I see signs in a number of places that a resurgence is already underway. The assault on Libya may well strengthen resolve and expand Pan-African efforts.