Was Gaddafi really that bad?
The US and its European allies have won another battle in the war with China for the heart, soul and riches of Africa with the ousting of Gaddafi in Libya, leaving the country completely vulnerable to exploitation immediately and for as long as its oil reserves last.
Brilliant spin-doctoring has obscured the US’s three-fold purpose in Libya – to access the foreign funds estimated at more than $200 billion to avoid further crises in international monetary structures; control the oil, which is the richest in Africa, easily accessible by Europe and comprising 2 percent of the world’s supply; and to ensure an ongoing low-key war among the 41 tribes that will provide a lucrative market for arms manufacturers that head up a long list seen plying their trade in Iraq.
Key to this are the oil reserves, which are the largest in Africa and eighth on the world stakes, with 46.4 billion barrels as of 2010.
Oil production was 1.7 million barrels a day, giving Libya 77 years of reserves at current production rates if no new reserves are found.
The “chosen” successor for Gaddafi is Abdelhakim Belhadj, former head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was listed as a terrorist organisation after the 9/11 attacks.
He was detained at a secret prison by the CIA in 2004 before he was returned to Libya.
The spin-doctoring for the world at large has also succeeded in obliterating any good that may have come out of the country as far as Africa is concerned.
According to a Reuters report on November 24, 2010, Libya was pouring aid and investment into Africa, including:
l An offer of $97bn in the continent to free it from Western influence on condition that the states rid themselves of corruption and nepotism.
l $65bn into sovereign wealth funds, including one designed to make investments in Africa.
l LAP Green Networks, a cellphone operator says it has commercial operations in Niger, Ivory Coast, Uganda and Rwanda and is planning to launch operations in Chad, Sierra Leone, Togo and southern Sudan.
l LAP is also the main shareholder in Afriqiyah Airways. Its name is the Arabic for Africa and it says its mission is to link African states to each other. It operates routes poorly served by major airlines. Destinations include Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, Bangui in Central African Republic and Douala in Cameroon.
l Libya is one of the biggest contributors to the budget of the AU, the 53-country body which is supposed to function along the lines of the EU. A senior Libyan diplomat said Libya was one of five countries – with Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa – which cover 75 percent of the union’s budget.
l Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi announced the creation of a $100 million investment fund for Niger as part of a strengthening of bilateral ties. Under earlier agreements, Tripoli is contributing e100m to build a Trans-Sahara highway in the north of Niger, according to sources close to Niger’s foreign ministry.
l Mauritania has debts to Libya of about $200m. During discussions on debt relief in May, the Libyan central bank announced Libya would provide $50m in grants to build a hospital and a university.
The list goes on to cover countries such as the Congo, Gambia and others undisclosed for sensitive or political reasons.
Recently, however, the Obama administration offered millions of dollars in new aid to Libya as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton encouraged the country’s unsteady new leadership to commit to a democratic future free of retribution, according to John Pilger, an Australian writing in the Tehran News.
“On October 14, President Barack Obama announced he was sending US Special Forces troops to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few months, US troops will be sent to South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic. They will only ‘engage’ for ‘self-defence’, says Obama, satirically. With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African continent is under way.
“In Africa,” says Obama, “the ‘humanitarian mission’ is to assist the government of Uganda defeat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which ‘has murdered, raped and kidnapped’ tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa.”
“This is an accurate description of the LRA,” Pilger says, “evoking multiple atrocities administered by the US, such as the bloodbath in the 1960s following the CIA-arranged murder of Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese independence leader and first legally elected prime minister, and the CIA coup that installed Mobutu Sese Seko, regarded as Africa’s most venal tyrant.”
(Note by the author: As a journalist I was in the Congo at the time. What remains untold is that the UN was called in – not to bring about peace, but to protect the Union Meniere copper mines at the time associated with the brother-in-law of Dag Hammarskjold, the then UN head. Hammarskjold died in a plane crash in the then Northern Rhodesia. I was first on the scene, by complete coincidence, to find the plane riddled with bullet holes – a fact never disclosed.)
The future for Libya is now in the hands of Obama, the US and EU. It now remains to be seen if they will honour the investments and pledges Libya has made to Africa or simply loot the whole lot themselves. It also remains to be seen how the reinvented terrorist Abdelhakim Belhadj compares to Gaddafi and after Sudan whether Nigeria or South Africa will be the US’s next target.
Consider the following achievements attributed to Gaddafi:
l In Libya electricity is free for all its citizens.
l Banks in Libya are state-owned and loans given to all its citizens are at zeropercent interest by law.
l Homes are considered a human right in Libya. Gaddafi vowed his parents would not get a house until everyone in Libya had one. His father died while he, his wife and his mother were still living in a tent.
l All newlyweds in Libya receive 60 000 dinar ($50 000) from the government to buy their first flat, to help start a family.
l Education and medical treatment are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi, only 25 percent of Libyans were literate. Today, the figure is 83 percent.
l Should Libyans want to take up farming, they receive land, a farm house, equipment, seeds and livestock – all for free.
l If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need in Libya, the government funds them to go abroad for it, not only free, but they get $2 300 a month, accommodation and car allowance.
l The Libyan government subsidises 50 percent of the price of a car.
l The price of petrol in Libya was until recently $0.14 a litre.
l Libya has no external debt and its reserves are $150bn, now frozen globally.
l If a Libyan can’t get employment after graduation, the state paid the average salary of the profession as if he or she were employed until they got a job.
l A portion of Libyan oil sales is credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.
l A mother who gives birth to a child receives $5 000.
l Forty loaves of bread in Libya costs $0.15.
l Twenty-five percent of Libyans have a university degree.
l Gaddafi undertook the world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Man-Made River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country.