Libya: the carve-up begins

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

IMPERIALIST leaders have begun the carve up of Libya. Some 31 government leaders, 11 foreign ministers, Libyan rebel leaders and the heads of the United Nations, Nato and the Arab League gathered at the Elysée Palace took part in the summit in Paris last week.

Jointly chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, the conference was deliberately timed to coincide with the 42nd anniversary of Libya’s Free Officer revolution that kicked out puppet king Idris on 1st September 1969.

The “Friends of Libya” conference was supposely called to lift UN sanctions and release frozen Libyan assets for the benefit of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) that now claims full authority in the country. But the real motive was to give international credibility to the puppet regime that is expected to sign away Libya’s immense oil reserves, the largest in Africa, to the imperialists who put the rebels where they are today.

BP and the French Total Oil company have reportedly started exploratory talks with the rebels. On the day of the summit, the French daily Liberation published a copy of a letter written in Arabic in April, purportedly from a representative of the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council, promising to cede to France 35 per cent of its oil in return for its support.

a fake?

The rebels say it’s a fake. But French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé significantly said he found nothing controversial about its contents. “I am not aware of this letter,” he said. “What I know is the NTC said very officially that concerning the reconstruction of Libya it would turn in preference to those who helped it. That seems fair and logical to me ? there’s a declaration by the NTC but I am not aware of a formal deal. We’re not alone. Italy is also there, (and) the Americans.” And, course the Qataris, whose feudal Arab leader was given the right to market all Libyan oil by the rebels in return for diplomatic and military support back in March.

observers

Russia and China attended the conference as observers, no doubt trying to safeguard the contracts they signed with the Gaddafi government. But they will almost certainly be sidelined, along with all the others who refused to support the rebellion, in the scrabble for Libyan oil. Abdeljalil Mayouf, an executive of the Benghazi-based Arabian Gulf Oil Company (Agoco) said: “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.”

Qatari troops are now openly patrolling the streets of Tripoli but the shadowy elite troops from Britain and France who helped the rebels take the Libyan capital are being withdrawn. According to Russian sources 173 elite Special Air Service (SAS) troops will return to Britain from Libya in the coming days.

They also claim that SAS suffered 21 to 35 casualties during the assault on Tripoli and when a helicopter was shot down on the Libyan border with Algeria.

Meanwhile fighting continues around key towns still in loyalist hands, amid reports that a large loyalist convoy had crossed the Sahara desert to seek sanctuary in Niger and of continuing loyalist resistance to the puppet regime inside the country.

But rebel claims that Gaddafi had fled were dismissed by Libyan government spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim. “He is in Libya. He is safe, he is very healthy, in high morale,” he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.