Friday, February 25, 2011

Libya : Why oil profits are the common factor behind calls for military intervention in Iraq, Libya and Venezuela

There’s a second similarity between current calls for military intervention in Libya and the Iraq war, apart from false claims made by defectors to try to encourage a US invasion – a government the US and British governments want rid of because it’s getting in the way of maximising their firms’ oil profits.

After the 1991 war Saddam stopped giving oil contracts to British or American oil companies, switching to giving them to the French, Russians and Chinese instead – which is why the first two countries supported war on Iraq while the last three opposed it (1).

At the same time as condemning the brutal, murdering, torturing dictator of Iraq (who they’d supported, funded and armed even after the gassing of Halabja) the US and British governments kept backing murdering torturing dictators from the Saudi monarchy to Mubarak in Egypt and Karimov in Uzbekistan, strongly suggesting the issue was oil and not democracy, torture or Saddam killing his own people (especially as they continued killing and torturing many of them even after he was overthrown).

The US Energy Information Agency says Libya has Africa’s largest proven oil reserves and that “most analysts agree that the country is still under-explored” - i.e there's a lot more to be discovered. BP's annual statistical energy review 2010 found Libya has proven reserves of 44 billion barrels of oil - the 10th largest in the world.

Western governments were reconciled with Gaddafi’s government and approving arms sales to it since he agreed to pay reparations to the families of those people killed in the Lockerbie bombing and began giving them oil contracts again from 2004 (with US firms going back five years before BP) (2).

However Gaddafi has been less generous on the share of the profits than they’d hoped, having demanded an increasing share of those profits and even making noises about possible nationalisation, leaving American oil firms worried he might kick them out altogether (3) – (4).

Similar actions by Mohammed Mossadeq, democratically elected President of Iran, in 1953, resulted in the British and American governments sending CIA and MI6 agents to organise a military coup which overthrew him and installed the Shah’s dictatorship (5) – (7).

When Hugo Chavez was elected President of Venezuela and set out plans to make US and other foreign oil firms operating in the country pay higher shares of profits, the US government backed a coup attempt against him too, in 2002, but it failed (8) – (10).

So those actions by Gaddafi are much more likely to be the reason the US and British and other European governments want rid of him than him ordering his forces to kill his own people.

This would also explain why Hague and Clinton find Gaddafi’s actions “horrifying” and want a UN resolution against him, while they were merely “deeply concerned” about Mubarak having hundreds of his own people killed – and ditto for the monarch of Bahrain ordering democracy protesters shot - and having the mourners at their funerals shot too. Clinton even saidWe call on restraint from the government, (and) to keep its commitment to hold accountable those who have utilized excessive force” as though the monarch of Bahrain had no responsibility for it. The killings in Bahrain haven’t stopped any more than they have in Libya (11) – (17). (Hague seems to dutifully parrot whatever Clinton says almost word for word)

(1) = Washington Post 15 Sep 2002, 'In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue : U.S. Drillers Eye Huge Petroleum Pool', ; ‘A U.S.-led ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries, and reshuffling world petroleum markets, according to industry officials and leaders of the Iraqi opposition...."It's pretty straightforward," said former CIA director R. James Woolsey, who has been one of the leading advocates of forcing Hussein from power. "France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them." But he added: "If they throw in their lot with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them.’

(2) = CNN Fortune 28 Jun 2004 ‘Libya's Black Gold Rush With sanctions lifted, Big Oil is lining up to do business with Qaddafi’,

(3) = CNBC 03 Mar 2009 ‘Libya Wants Greater Share of Its Oil Revenue’,

(4) = Forbes Magazine 01 Jan 2009 ‘Is Libya Going To Boot U.S. Oil Companies?’,

(5) = Pollack, Kenneth M.(2004), ‘The Persian Puzzle', Random House, New York, 2005 paperback edition - pages 27-140

(6) = Curtis, Mark (1995), ‘The Ambiguities of Power : British Foreign Policy since 1945', Zed Books, London & New York, 1995 paperback edition - pages 87-96

(7) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran', Times Books , New York, 2006 - pages 83-96

(8) = Observer 21 April 2002 ‘Venezuela coup linked to Bush team’,

(9) = BBC News 11 Oct 2004 ‘Venezuela raises oil drilling tax’,

(10) = Gott, Richard (2005) , ‘Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution’, Verso, London & New York, 2005

(11) = BBC News 28 Jan 2011 ‘Hillary Clinton 'deeply concerned' about events in Egypt’,

(12) = DipNote US Department of State Official blog 21 Feb 2011 ‘Secretary Clinton: “Libya Has a Responsibility To Respect the Universal Rights of the People”,

(13) = BBC News 19 Feb 2011 ‘Hague condemns violence in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen’,

(14) = Human Rights Watch 8 Feb 2011 ‘Egypt: Documented Death Toll From Protests Tops 300’,

(15) = LA Times 19 Feb 2011 ‘BAHRAIN: Protesters shot as government seeks to smother protests [Video]’,

(16) = BBC News 15 Feb 2011 ‘Bahrain man 'shot dead' at protester's funeral’,

(17) = MSNBC ‘Stunned U.S. urges Bahrain to show 'restraint' after bloody crackdown’, ; ‘Clinton said she expressed her "deep concern" in a telephone call with Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa and emphasized that violence should not occur on Friday, when many in Bahrain may attend funerals of those killed or prayer services…"Bahrain is a friend and an ally and has been for many years," Clinton told reporters. "We call on restraint from the government, (and) to keep its commitment to hold accountable those who have utilized excessive force."

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