Libya: Oil Bids on Basis of Capacity; World releases $15 bn in Assets

The CSM reviews the jockeying for position in Libya at the Friends conference in Paris, and especially the prospects of the US.

But a spokesman for the Transitional National Council emphasized that oil bids would be let on the basis of the company’s expertise and experience, not on the political grounds of whether its nation supported the TNC.

The conference released $15 bn. in Libyan assets to the new government. If the money can be disbursed quickly and put to use efficiently, it could help overcome the country’s current shortages of staples and services, in the wake of the revolution.

Larbi Sadiki writes:

“Libyans did not begin the Arab revolution. However, they are about to close one link in the Arab revolutionary chain: three neighbouring countries with a total population of 100m Arabic-speaking people, covering a surface area of more than 3m square kilometres, are free. That is how it must have felt when the colonists left Algeria to join Morocco or Tunisia, or when the free officers came, one by one, to ditch monarchical rule in several Arab states.

The three countries should experiment with open borders and the free movement of people, goods, and ideas to show that the dawn of Arab democracies will not have any semblance to the era of Gaddafi, Mubarak and Ben Ali. [Secretary-General of the Arab League] Mr [Nabil] Al-Arabi has a golden opportunity to make this a reality. Just as Arab youth are steadfast in the struggle for freedom and democracy, their elder statesmen should meet them halfway in helping reconstruct a better Arab world.”

Historian Benjamin Stora argues that Algeria’s hostility to the Libyan revolution and to the help it received from Europe betrays a mindset stuck in the jejune Third Worldism of the 1960s. The world has changed, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, and the election of Barack Obama, Stora argues, but the Algerian leadership hasn’t caught up. (Actually, I think the assumption that the world is bipolar, so that one should oppose anything capitalist Western Europe does, is still widespread in left-leaning countries of the global south. But the irony is that almost all of them have taken the capitalist road themselves, and Western Europe has no obvious opposite pole that one could support, so all that’s left is a dreary knee-jerk anti-Westernism. To deploy the latter to insist that it must be allowed for a Libyan dictator to kill thousands of Libyan citizens is bizarre.

The African Union said it was reassured by the remarks in Paris of TNC leader Moustapha Abdul Jalil, in which he pledged to order the protection of foreign workers in Libya, and that it might go forward with recognizing the new government.

The Wall Street Journal got hold of, and analyzed, intelligence and military documents from the Qaddafi regime left behind when its high officials fled the capital. They show an Establishment that was clueless about the depth and breadth of the rebellion against them; corrupt and venal, giving rufies to women who were then raped; amazed to find themselves outnumbered and outgunned in the Western Mountain region; burdened with the Air Force flyers they were sent who had no notion of how to fight as infantry. They tried but failed to monitor the rebels’ telephone conversations, and to deploy their thousands of domestic spies, but they just seemed unable to understand the scale of the uprising they faced. Bewildered, they blamed it on Shiite Muslims (there are no Shiite Muslims to speak of in North Africa). The charge shows that they just had no idea who their opponents could possibly have been.

China has also begun jockeying for a position in post-Qaddafi Libya, provoking some cynicism and mirth among its dissidents on the internet.

‘Summary: Sing Tao: China Netizens Mock Former ‘Boot-Licking’ PRC Ambassador to Libya…
Sing Tao Jih Pao Online
Friday, September 2, 2011
Document Type: OSC Summary …

According to an article on 1 September by Chih Hsiao-hua carried in independent Hong Kong daily Sing Tao Jih Pao, in a microblog, mainland netizens released an article by former PRC Ambassador to Libya Wang Houli written several years ago, singing the praise of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. While serving as ambassador, Wang had six exclusive meetings with Gaddafi and the two became “good friends.” Wang defended Gaddafi’s “lifestyle,” saying that he was a dedicated Muslim who loved the Arab nation and maintained equality between the rich and the poor. Some Internet users ridiculed the ambassador by saying: “With such an ambassador, how can China not be thrown into a predicament on the Libyan issue? Chinese officials are so smart that they have exported boot licking overseas.”

(Description of Source: Hong Kong Sing Tao Jih Pao Online in Chinese — Website of “Sing Tao Daily News,” non-PRC-owned daily newspaper targeted at an educated audience; sister paper of free English-language daily The Standard; typically maintains a pro-Hong Kong Government editorial line; URL:’

Posted in Libya | 20 Responses | Print |

20 Responses

  1. Re: American interests in Libya.

    The spectacle of (metaphorical) barracudas and sharks circling the pool of capital which Libya and the NTC will inherit is tragicomic. This doesn’t mean that US and other businesses w/ expertise the Libyans need shouldn’t make money or be paid, just that everyone involved needs to be circumspect separating the useful entities from the skimmers looking for loose cash.

    That said.. Secretary Clinton has just put her foot in our mouth by demanding retribution on a dying man while the NTC and everyone else are busy with really important events. The suggestions of AIPAC mouthpiece Schumer are beneath contempt. There’s no need to suck up to the Libyans, but antagonizing them by catering to jingoism is stupid and short-sighted, the work of political hacks.

    link to

    • On second thought, perhaps Clinton is behaving wisely, making noise to appease US jingoists. If that’s the case and the Libyans who need to understand do, no harm done.

  2. So Gaddafi s incompetent a dictator as he was at everything was at everything else? Not a surprise, but never-the-less he would still be in power without NATO.

    This does suggest that the prospect for popular revolts not backed by 21st century air power are a little slim, and that semi-competent dictators like Assad should be reasonably confident of surviving.

    Not a very edifying thought.

    • I would have said last year that Mubarak was more competent than Gadafi, given that Egypt has little oil and many mouths to feed. Mubarak had to squeeze his billions out of Washington at the price of his people’s contempt.

      The thing is, an oil dictator can afford to sacrifice his population, because the oil under their feet is more valuable than their own ability to pay taxes. Assad has to actually have people working in order to keep his soldiers paid, and probably so do the governments of Algeria and Morocco. Obviously the reactionary oil monarchies have a huge advantage in staying in power.

      But we’re seeing people’s uprisings everywhere now – in Chile, in Greece, in London, in India, the poor are getting sick of, essentially, the neo-Victorian era inaugurated by Reagan and Thatcher 30 years ago. Instead of microanalyzing the supposed conspiracies behind the peoples’ uprisings that we don’t think are “left-wing” enough, and saying that whomever the US or NATO supports is irredeemably evil, we need to look at the macro picture of how quickly the forces of capitalism, corporatism, or all the 3rd world tyrants across the political spectrum who all cut their own deals with the corporations, are being overwhelmed by popular anger. We don’t see it because we’re stuck here in the States, where all populist anger is diverted to the Right by generations of ideological conditioning and censorship. America is being left alone on a right-wing island while the rest of the world is recapitulating the history of workers’ movements in the late 19th and early 20th century. Screw Fukuyama, history is starting again.

      • @Super390, there are right wing governments in Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, New Zealand, Netherlands, UK, Canada, Portugal to name a few, the latter 3 are recently elected, the others are even money or better to get re-elected.

        Australia has a left-wing Labour/Green federal government, it will almost certainly get annihilated at the next election (if not sooner). All recent state elections have replaced the left with the right.

        India could move to the right at its next election. It’s recent middle class led disturbances were about the failure of the left wing Congress government to do anything about corruption, many of the poor of India only wish they had the money to pay a bribe or two.

        So most established democracies are moving to the right. If the USA re-elects Obama then it will be a ‘liberal’ island in a ‘conservative’ sea, which would be no bad thing.

  3. Well the news is that our beloved country United States of America is also good in bootlicking countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain!!

    I do not have to enlighten anybody about their human rights records or democratic profile.

  4. If the USA were energy independent, would we have been fighting wars in the Middle East for the last 10 years? Would we have stepped in to help Libya? I don’t believe so.

    President Carter warned us of the impending energy crisis in 1977; that we consume more energy than we can create with oil, coal and nuclear. Al Gore has been warning us about human made Global Warming for 30 years. There is a protest in Washington DC right now over the Keystone pipeline. There is still oil in Prince William sound 22 years after Exxon Valdez. . . And still the USA depends on oil, coal and nuclear power—all of which have proven to be destructive to all life—Earth, waters, air, human, animals.

    When will the USA wake up and transition to clean green energy?

    Libya. Oil. War. Is it that simple?
    link to

    From Afghanistan to Iraq: Connecting the Dots with Oil
    link to

    • I liked and still do like Jimmy Carter, but he made key mistakes that still hang over the world today. One was his declaration that the U.S. would go to war over Middle Eastern oil. Another was his CIA-directed incitement of the Russians that helped goad the Russians into deciding to invade Afghanistan. A third, which I believe I am remembering correctly, was to the hypermilitarizing of the Colombia, which set in motion the forces that killed hundreds of thousands of people and that are still in motion today.

      His greatest triumph, the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, which pretty much set in stone Mubarak’s long authoritarian siege of Egypt, which also directly helped perpetuate the Palestinian people’s sufferings, could also be considered a debacle, at least as easily it was and is still seen as a boon. It depends on one’s perspective.

      And so it goes.

    • If the USA were energy independent, would we have been fighting wars in the Middle East for the last 10 years?

      We’d probably still be in Afghanistan. That is a war for security (agree or not that it’s a smart one), not oil. But we almost certainly would not have invaded Iraq, which was primarily a war for expanding our presence in an oil-rich region, at a time when the Saudis were nagging us to find somewhere else to station our troops.

      Would we have stepped in to help Libya?

      Probably. We had a fine oil relationship with Libya, and it came to an end only when we objected to the oil dictator crushing a rebellion – which, you might remember, set off an oil spike.

  5. JUAN, can you make comment on why liberating Sirte is getting more attention then liberating Bani Walid. My understanding is that the latter is the “key” to getting water to Tripoli, without which people may lose confidence in NTC.

    Yesterday AJ was reporting NTC no longer suspect Qaddafi’s in Sirte. but more likely to be in the interior, Sabha perhaps.

    It appears that you don’t have to go through Sirte to drive to & fro between Benghazi & Tripoli. There’s a road that turns off at As Sultan East of Sirte, goes south of Qasr Abu to link up with coast road west of Sirte at Abugrein.

    China has all the money, so they’ll simply buy their way back into Libya.

  6. Juan – they [Gadaffi’s intell services] blamed it on Shiite Muslims (there are no Shiite Muslims to speak of in North Africa).

    I wonder if Gadaffi’s intell services might have blamed it on Ibadi Muslims, some of Libya’s Berber are Ibadi’s. The WSJ may have assumed that the Ibadi was a Shiite sect, or they decided to say that anyway – most of their audience would not know of the Ibadi.

    AJ first reported the existence of these files on Aug 26, link to

    I’ve not seen mention of “them” blaming Shiites in subsequent AJ reports, but I’ve only seen a few reports in English – such as this one link to

  7. “When will the USA wake up and transition to clean green energy?”

    Easy to say, harder to implement. So-called “green” energy has to first demonstrate it is a viable business before it will take off. To date, it has failed in that effort. Just this week Solyndra, a Fremont, California based solar-panel company abruptly went out of business. This was a company that Mr. Obama touted as an example of the future. It employed 1,100 employees, and it had received more than $1.6 billion in federal and private funding in recent years, including $535 million in taxpayer money from the Department of Energy. So much for the future.

    Spain has been held up as an example of a country going heavily in the direction of “green” energy development, but, again, it exists primarily at the largesse of government funding, and we all know where the Spanish economy stands. And, of course, China is always used as an example. Two things must be said about China: A. An authoritarian government can put money anywhere it wants, and B. Whatever work China may be doing on “green” energy, China will be using traditional sources of energy for decades to come. That is why China is scouring the world, snapping up contracts and locking in sources for oil, gas, and minerals.

    “Green” energy development will not gain traction in the United States, or anywhere else for that matter, until it demonstrates that it can pay for itself.

    • Portugal gets 45% of its electricity from green energy today, and a substantial increase since 2000 has come from wind and solar. Germany gets 17% of its electricity from wind.

      Whether solar companies thrive or fail depends on many things other than whether green energy is cost effective. Some companies aren’t well run, others have an outmoded technology. If you build the vast cost of global warming into the estimates, it is hydrocarbons that are unsustainable.

      • “If you build the vast cost of global warming into the estimates, it is hydrocarbons that are unsustainable.”

        Yes, exactly! The stark and depraved biases of most establishment economists in their calculations, regarding value and costs of the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries, are the biggest impediments (intentional and well-funded, of course) to the near-term full-scale conversion to Earth-and-human-friendly energy technologies, far larger than the current deficiencies in the technologies themselves.

        These economists NEVER include the costs of accidents, decommissioning, or remediation, especially not the remediation of health effects, actual and punitive. Truly, if calculated honestly, hydrocarbon use would never have been developed in the first place.

        Education is desperately needed.

        • All well and good Professor Cole, Kat, and News Nag. Nevertheless, as I stated above, “green” energy development will not gain any significant traction until it demonstrates that it can pay for itself. To date, it has not done so, hydrocarbons in the atmosphere notwithstanding. This is not a defense of traditional enerby sources; it is simply a recognition of what the public and politicians consider self-sustaining energy development.

    • Citing the failure of a company in this economy as evidence that its entire field in not viable is nonsensical.

      A gas station went out of business in Lowell recently. Does that demonstrate that selling gasoline to Americans is not viable? No, it demonstrates that the economy is lousy.

      China will be using traditional sources of energy for decades to come.

      China is the world’s leader in investing in solar power.

  8. Possible support of some Shia forces for anti-Qaddafi movement because of Imam Mosa Sadr’s history?

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