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    Middle East
     Sep 17, 2011

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 otherwise.

King Sarko even outlined the next chapter: the road to Damascus. Dear Bashar, time to start booking that one-way ticket.

Somalia rules

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 as-Salabi.

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?

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Turkey takes over the Arab Spring
(Sep 14, '11)

Libya: The real war starts now
(Sep 7, '11)

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(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Sep 15, 2011)


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