From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Sep 12 2011 - 17:11:15 EDT
Libya could break up like Somalia
2011-09-012, Issue <http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/546> 546
The revolution in Libya, led by a motley group of democrats and Islamists
and their imperialist allies, is likely to entrench the deep divisions in
the country, writes Samir Amin, warning of the possibility of disintegration
of the nation.
Libya is neither Tunisia nor Egypt. The ruling group (Gaddafi) and the
forces fighting it are in no way analogous to their Tunisian and Egyptian
counterparts. Gaddafi has never been anything but a buffoon, whose emptiness
of thought was reflected in his notorious 'Green Book'. Operating in a
still-archaic society Gaddafi could indulge in successive 'nationalist' and
'socialist' speeches with little bearing on reality, and the next day
proclaim himself a 'liberal'.
He did so to 'please the West', as though the choice for liberalism would
have no social effects. But it had and, as is commonplace, it worsened
living conditions for the majority of Libyans. The oil rent which was widely
redistributed became the target of small groups of the privileged, including
the family of the leader. Those conditions then gave rise to the well-known
explosion, which the country's regionalists and political Islamists
immediately took advantage of.
For Libya has never truly existed as a nation. It is a geographical region
separating the Arab West from the Arab East (the Maghreb from the Mashreq).
The boundary between the two goes right through the middle of Libya.
Cyrenaica was historically Greek and Hellenistic before it became
Mashreqian. Tripolitania, for its part, was Roman and became Maghrebian.
Because of this, regionalism has always been strong in the country.
Nobody knows who the members of the National Transition Council in Benghazi
really are. There may be democrats among them, but there are certainly
Islamists, some among the worst of the breed, as well as regionalists. The
president of the council is Mustafa Muhammad Abdeljelil, the judge who
condemned the Bulgarian nurses to death and was rewarded by Gaddafi, who
named him minister of justice from 2007 to February 2011. For that reason
the prime minister of Bulgaria, Boikov, refused to recognise the council,
but his argument was not given any follow up by the US and Europe.
From the outset 'the movement' in Libya took the form of an armed revolt
fighting the army, rather than a wave of civilian demonstrations. And right
away that armed revolt called NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) to
its aid. Thus a chance for military intervention was offered to the
Their aim is surely neither 'protecting civilians' nor 'democracy' but
control over oilfields, underground water resources and acquisition of a
major military base in the country. Of course, ever since Gaddafi embraced
liberalism Western oil companies have had control over Libyan oil. But with
Gaddafi nobody could be sure of anything. Suppose he were to switch sides
tomorrow and start to play ball with the Indians and the Chinese? More
important are the enormous underground water resources which could have been
used to benefit the African Sahelian countries. Well-known French companies
are interested in those resources (this is the reason for the early French
involvement). They will use them in a more 'profitable' way to produce
In 1969 Gaddafi demanded that the British and Americans leave the bases they
had kept in the country since the Second World War. Currently the United
States needs to find a place in Africa for its AFRICOM (the US military
command for Africa, an important part of its alignment for military control
over the world but which still has to be based in Stuttgart!). The African
Union having rejected it, until now no African country has dared to do so. A
lackey installed in Tripoli would surely comply with all the demands of
Washington and its NATO lieutenants. That would be a direct menace to Egypt
Having said that, it remains difficult to imagine how the 'new regime' will
behave. The possibility of a disintegration in the Somali pattern should not
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