From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Aug 24 2011 - 12:59:00 EDT
World powers scramble for a stake in future of the new Libya
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
The world's leading powers yesterday were scrambling to prevent the violent
overthrow of the Gaddafi regime from descending into chaos, even as they
quietly jostled to benefit from oil and economic reconstruction contracts to
be handed out by a new government in Tripoli.
130a.jpg> Libya's oil network: click here to download graphic (50k)
Last night Western diplomats had a host of concerns, ranging from how
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi should be dealt with to post-revolution security and
whether the rebel alliance, represented by the Transitional National Council
(TNC), would hold together now that its immediate and unifying goal has been
The TNC, said President Obama, should avoid civilian casualties and pursue a
transition to democracy that was "just and inclusive" for all of the people
of Libya. A season of conflict, he said, "must lead to one of peace".
In London, David Cameron warned of "undoubtedly difficult days ahead" but
said that ordinary Libyans were "closer to their dream of a better future".
But signs of disagreement over the fate of Colonel Gaddafi were an early
hint of possible problems. Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations secretary
general, insisted that all UN member countries (of which Libya is one)
should comply with the decisions of the International Criminal Court. The
ICC has issued arrest warrants for Colonel Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam,
and Abdullah al-Senussi, his head of intelligence – who was last night
reported dead – for crimes against humanity. But the rebels, who have
already captured Saif and possibly two other Gaddafi sons, have indicated
that they should face trial in Libya, before a Libyan court.
Similar tensions may emerge over a transitional role for the UN as a new
government is installed. While some Western countries might favour such a
step, Mansour Saif al-Nasr, the rebel movement's spokesman in Paris, ruled
out suggestions that a UN force should provide security on the ground, as
well as humanitarian aid in the coming weeks.
Some of these issues could be settled at an international meeting next week
of the Western "contact" powers on Libya, to be attended by top TNC figures,
announced by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, which along with Britain
led the Nato air support operations for the rebels.
Hardly less pressing is the reconstruction effort that will be needed after
months of fighting that has caused considerable infrastructure damage and
reduced the flow of oil from Libya, the world's 12th largest exporter, to a
trickle. Resources will be available – the World Bank says it will quickly
resume involvement with Libya, while Britain and Germany were among
countries promising to unfreeze tens of billions of dollars in assets held
by the old regime.
Most oil companies involved in Libya have not commented, or said they would
wait to see how the security situation evolved before sending their
personnel into the country.
Italy, Libya's former colonial power and largest trading partner, has
meanwhile sent a team to the rebels' "capital" of Benghazi to work on plans
to restore oil and natural gas production to pre-war levels. The Foreign
Minister Franco Frattini said yesterday that the Italian energy group ENI -
the largest foreign producer in Libya - "will have a No. 1 role in the
future" of the country.
But international competition to secure a foothold in the new Libya is
likely to be intense, involving not only the traditional industrial powers
but also China, which has already moved to bolster its oil and raw material
supplies in deals with other African countries.
BP vows to return
BP has announced that it wants to return to Libya as soon as possible to
resume its search for oil. It left the country earlier this year, soon after
starting a £121m drilling project, when the violence intensified.
A spokesman said: "Our plans are simple: to return to the country when
conditions allow and restart the exploration programmes we had in place."
Following Tony Blair's 2004 "Deal in the Desert" with Gaddafi, which opened
Libya up to some British businesses, BP signed deals with the regime to
explore oil fields in the western Ghadames Basin and to drill offshore in
the Sirte Basin. Western energy giants will seek reassurances from rebel
leaders that those deals remain intact.
BP said infrastructure does not yet exist for it to begin production, and
that it was "several years away from producing anything, even if our
exploration goes as well as we wish". The firm will now consider when to
send back its expat workers, having kept about 100 locals on the payroll
during the fighting. Kevin Rawlinson
The world jostles for position
"We have lost Libya completely," Aram Shegunts, of the Russia-Libya Business
Council, complained yesterday, voicing fears that Russian energy companies
would be frozen out of any post-conflict carve-up of Libya. The official
line from Moscow came from the Foreign Ministry, which warned against
foreign interference in Libya. "We call on all states to... refrain from
interference in Libya's internal affairs and provide practical support."
China, which abstained on the UN vote to use military force against
Gaddafi's regime in March, said yesterday that it would accept the rebel
succession. "China respects the choice of the Libyan people and hopes that
the situation there will quickly return to stability and that people's lives
can return to normal," the Foreign Ministry said. In truth, China has long
been hedging its bets against Gaddafi's ability to survive, hosting rebel
leaders in Beijing on several occasions.
David Cameron called on Gaddafi to go quietly and stem further bloodshed.
The Prime Minister said that Gaddafi's power was ebbbing away and, "at least
two of Gaddafi's sons have been detained, his regime is falling apart and is
in full retreat. Gaddafi must stop fighting, without conditions – and
clearly show that he has given up any claim to control Libya." Mr Cameron
warned, however, that it could be some time before Gaddafi was found.
President Obama repeated his demands that Gaddafi give himself up yesterday,
adding that the 42-year tenure as Libyan leader was over. "The surest way
for the bloodshed to end is simple... Gaddafi and his regime need to
recognise that their rule has come to an end," Mr Obama said. "[He] needs to
acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to
relinquish power once and for all."
The EU embraced the developments in Tripoli, hailing what it described as "a
new era". Despite the continued fighting, Jose Manuel Barroso, President of
the European Commission, and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European
Council, said: "The quest for freedom by the people of Libya is coming to a
historic moment. The relentless efforts of the forces of the new Libya,
supported militarily by Nato and several EU states, are bringing the Gaddafi
regime to its end."
Nato, which had softenedthe Libyan regime withnearly 20,000 sorties since
militaryaction was sanctioned in March,said yesterday that there would beno
let up in the bombing raids. TheAlliance continued to pound
targetsyesterday. "The Gaddafi regime isclearly crumbling,"
NatoSecretary-General Anders FoghRasmussen said. "Now is the timefor all
threats against civilians tostop, as the United Nations SecurityCouncil
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