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Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer and political analyst based in Michigan. His work on matters related to the geopolitical aspects of the global energy sector,…

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Something's Fishy in Tripoli

Something's Fishy in Tripoli

Way back in early 2011, members of the U.N. Security Council had no problem getting a resolution through that authorized military force in Libya ostensibly to protect civilians from attacks by forces loyal to strongman Moammar Gadhafi. The year before, lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic were bickering over who did what and why in terms of the cancer-stricken Lockerbie bomber. This Scottish decision to release him, depending on which U.S. lawmaker you spoke with, was tied to a BP deal to drill for oil in Libya. Despite fractures in the new interim government in Tripoli and reports of renewed protests, a decision by the Italian government to quietly discuss trade relations suggests something isn't quite right in the way Western allies pick their fights.

OPEC last year refused to budge when economic doomsayers were predicting the end of days because the war in Libya was pushing oil prices to highs that threatened some mythical economic recovery somewhere in the world. The International Energy Agency stepped in, but by January, oil majors in Libya were saying production levels had more or less returned to normal, all things considered. Italian energy company Eni, which had pretty nice contracts with Gadhafi's government, is happily churning out oil from fields in Libya that were left, for all intents and purposes, unscathed by the best NATO had to offer. Even the most pessimistic oil analysts are surprised at how fast Libyan oil production is back online.

In October, rebel forces presumably said to hell with it and figured they'd save everyone a lot of time by killing Gadhafi themselves. The ICC didn't seem to mind much and a now-fractured interim government did little to worry the Italian government enough to decide during the weekend that business was booming in post-Gadhafi Libya.

Before the conflict began, a group of Democratic lawmakers in Washington issued a 123-page report claiming the 2009 decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was tied to commercial oil interests with Tripoli.  A British inquiry into the case found BP was involved to some extent in the 2009 decision because, according to New York's Sen. Chuck Schumer, London wanted an oil deal to go through with the Gadhafi government.

So where were these same senators when it was announced in November that Abdulrahman Ben Yezza was appointed as the new Libyan oil minister? He's the former chairman of Eni Oil Co., a joint venture between the Italian energy company and Libya's National Oil Corp. Why no furor when Eni Chief Executive Officer Paulo Scaroni became the first executive from an oil major to visit when he went to Tripoli in September? For that matter, where are the Democrats in the United States?

It seems rather duplicitous to on one hand sit and debate censuring Syria at the Security Council for 10 months while it took, what, a few weeks to get one through on Libya? Was Gadhafi's Libya somehow ripe for the picking? Was the Libyan resolution simply too crafty for those pesky Russians?

Italy and Libya during the weekend signed a letter that spells out bilateral coordination for the protection of its borders and oil installations. Makes you wonder who is drawing up what at which European energy company as U.S. battle carriers head to the western Iranian coast.

By. Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Charkes Norrie on January 24 2012 said:
    Quote "This Scottish decision to release him, depending on which U.S. lawmaker you spoke with, was tied to a BP deal to drill for oil in Libya."Unquote

    US lawmakes are notoriously able to led by the nose by the US Administration and have no idea what Lockerbie is about. Neither Libya nor Mr Magrahi was involved in any way whatsoever in that atrocity, which was carried out by the Governments of the US and Iran working together to give Iran its one and one only revennge for the deleratye (provable) shooting down of IR655 by the Vincennes.

    Your article is tendentiously short on fact Mr Graeber, and pehaps you should start again by educating tourself in Arab abd Persian policits.
  • Fred Banks on January 24 2012 said:
    I published a lovely article in this site on the Libya thing. What I pointed out was that the war in Libya was about oil and only oil, and if the governments taking part wanted to protect civilians, they could protect them in their own countries, because there are plenty of civilians in the US, France, and the UK - not to mention Syria and the Ivory Coast - that needed protecting. Why is it necessary to have to confront a stupid lie about protecting citizens, promulgated by the stupid US representative to the UN. What have we done to deserve the kind of governments we have today?
  • Doug Diggler on January 24 2012 said:
    Well, when the US and NATO carried out their attack on Libya (rehearsed the previous fall, before the "Arab Spring" as Operation Southern Mistral by UK and French forces) Dmitry Medvedev was still president of Russia and was amenable to the NATO dominance of the Mediterranean and compliant with the so-called "Washington Consensus." In the interim, it was clear that Putin clawed his way back to dominance of the Russian state and Putin has had enough of NATO and the US and their lackeys attempt to encircle and strangle Russia and China. Therefore when the motion for a similar UN resolution was put forward against Syria, both Russia and China vetoed in a first ever double veto in UN history. It's clear that the geopolitical Great Game of our era is about US military and political dominance of the oil and gas region in Central Asia and strategic denial of those resources for China as well as continued aggression against Russia and China. Sadly, the US lacks the financial power to actually follow through in its plans.
  • robertsgt40 on January 24 2012 said:
    All roads lead to international finance which in turn lead to Israel. Oil is just one brick in the wall
  • Daniel K. on January 24 2012 said:
    Great article..allow me to add that although President Obama has accomplished little to solve our economic problems or grow jobs in the private sector.
    His personal need for power could actually result in him sinking Iran's Navy to make a point, and pull the teeth of the Islamist tiger if he thought that it would get him re-elected.
  • Fred Banks on January 26 2012 said:
    "International finance" doesn't have anything to do with the Libya adventure. Nor does speculation, nor the protection of civilians, nor any of the lies broadcast by the completely moronic Danish boss of Nato. It was strictly about oil, because Libya not only has the most reserves in Africa, there is a liklihood that more oil (and of course gas) will be found. The cost of that war was almost certainly billions, although it is uncertain who will pay.

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