THE ROVING EYE Libya: to King Sarkozy, the spoils
By Pepe Escobar
Move over, Lawrence of Arabia. The Great Gallic Liberator of Libya (and any
other gullible Arab in sight), neo-Napoleonic French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
along with his sidekick British Prime Minister David of Arabia Cameron,
gallantly strode into a cordoned off military airport in Tripoli to sing La Vie
en Rose by the Mediterranean, thus celebrating the success of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization's long bombing of Libya into "democracy".
Tagging along for the photo-op was insufferable self-promoter and
self-described "new philosopher" Bernard-Henri Levy, he of the perennially
revealing torso under a neatly pressed white shirt, and he of the notorious
phone call from Benghazi who "sold" a war to
the beleaguered Gallic Liberator (as if King Sarko would refuse any push to
enlarge his grandeur).
No need to hold the Imperial Rome metaphors - from "victory lap" to "laurels"
and the inevitable "to the victor the spoils" (of war), because that's exactly
what this was.
King Sarko and Little Dave may not look like the lovely lady from Angola who's
just been crowned Miss Universe - but they couldn't be in fuller "feel free to
bask in my glow" mode. A victory lap in the periphery of empire - even if
you're just a lowly proconsul - certainly beats being mercilessly crushed by
Europe's economic debacle.
To the sound of Apache helicopters patrolling the Mediterranean, and escorted
by dozens of riot police, King Sarko felt the need to tell an unsuspecting
world, "What we did was for humanitarian reasons. There was no hidden agenda."
But just in case - and with Tripoli's top two hotels swarming with multilingual
contractors/vultures - the chairman of the dodgy Transitional National Council
(TNC), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, had to spell out the agenda: "allies and friends"
would "have priority within a framework of transparency" in sharing the loot.
So many juicy oil and gas (and water and uranium and reconstruction) contracts
to bag, so little time.
Echoing King Sarko, Little Dave bombastically proclaimed, "the Arab spring
could become an Arab summer". That's code for NATO ready to bomb more dictators
to oblivion - as long as there are any opportunist "rebels" willing to call the
(European) cavalry by exhibiting "pro-democracy" credentials, fake or
King Sarko even outlined the next chapter: the road to Damascus. Dear Bashar,
time to start booking that one-way ticket.
The King Sarko/Little Dave lightning Tripoli tour was carefully timed to
upstage the visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Yet as far as
the soul of the Arab Spring - Egypt - is concerned, Recep is the man, not the
Anglo-French NATO bombers.
And to think that just yesterday British and French intelligence were so happy
in bed with Gaddafi's security apparatus. Such a pity that Little Dave did not
enjoy some quality time with Tripoli military commander Abdelhakim Belhaj -
former emir of the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), former al-Qaeda asset,
former CIA torturee but (good for him) eternal Gaddafi foe.
Belhaj for his part lost a great opportunity to ask Little Dave - in the
absence of the Americans - for an official Anglo excuse for the torture and six
years in jail; perhaps now he'll opt for the International Criminal Court.
NATO in Libya conquered essentially a strip of highway peppered with a few
cities by the Mediterranean. Nobody knows what's really going on in the desert.
NATO's real agenda is to wait and see while Gaddafi and his forces regroup and
rearm in Niger and southern Algeria, and start a real guerrilla. That will be
the perfect excuse for NATO to stay - like in Afghanistan.
There's also the not small matter of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of
sub-Saharan Africans either harassed or massacred by the "NATO rebels" -
something that guarantees large swathes of Africa actively backing Gaddafi.
With NATO expecting to extend the fun, no wonder the Anglo-French lovers
couldn't care less about their host Jalil's promise to throw Libya's secular
state to the dustbin (as in sharia becoming the "main source of law"). One more
reason for the West to be "vigilant". Expect major catfights ahead. The man to
watch is Ali as-Salabi - a hardcore Islamist aligned with Sheikh Yusuf
al-Qaradawi. He's already launched a war against TNC's Prime Minister Mahmoud
Jibril - so far the global media face of the NATO rebels. As-Salabi defines
Jibril and his cohorts as "extreme secularists" who are leading Libya to "a new
era of tyranny and dictatorship". Al-Qaeda asset Belhaj - who commands
thousands of rebels armed to their teeth - happens to be a very close ally of
There's no evidence the TNC has the strength to disarm the current, already
Iraqi-style, militia hell in Tripoli and beyond. If the TNC won't do it, NATO
will happily oblige. In this case, bets are on Libya turning not into
Afghanistan 2.0 or Iraq 2.0, but Somalia 2.0. Endgame? Send in the Marines and
turn Tripoli into Fallujah. Barack Obama may even win the 2012 United States
election on this one.
You betcha; the (tragic) fun and games are just beginning. Let's see how long
will it take for King Sarko and Little Dave to reenact their victory lap - and
in what kind of Tripoli will they land. Kabul, Baghdad or Mogadishu?