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'US intervention in ME for oil supplies'
Sat, 30 Apr 2011 20:35:28 GMT
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Libyan revolutionary forces (file photo)
As fighting against Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi continues, the West's military intervention in the oil-rich country is entering new phases.

The following is Press TV's interview with Chris Bambery, a Middle East expert, about the issue.

Press TV: The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has been called to help the Libyan Transitional National Council to permit oil deals. Why would the United States Treasury be moved to permit oil deals?

Bambery: Of course Libya is very important for the British BP and other major oil investments there. But the Americans' control of the Middle Eastern oil is important not because the Americans rely so much on the Middle Eastern oil, but because the Europeans rely on the Middle Eastern oil, and if the Americans can control the Middle Eastern oil supplies to the Europe, it gives them leverage over the so-called European partners.

The backbone of the US intervention in the region, in Iraq and elsewhere has been around the issue of domination of the Middle East oil supplies and this dates back actually to the World War II when Britain and America were in their own cold war and Britain lost its control over the Saudi Arabian oil.

So, there has been a constant conflict between the two allies, Britain and America. There has been a history of conflict over the oil supplies and it was very important to the Americans to so. Leverage over the oil supplies to Europe together with their military presence in Europe gives them considerable sway over this.

So, I think it reveals their real agenda here about oil behind this intervention and the primary reason for the West to intervene in Libya is an attempt to corrupt the Libyan resistance in a way that they corrupted the Kosovo resistance in the beginning of the last decade in that country and they corrupted the Kurdish resistance against [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein in northern Iraq and used them for their own interest. I think that is what they do to corrupt the Libyan resistance in an effort to intervene into the Arab revolutionary process and to contaminate that process.

Press TV: The list of the US and the West's contributions to the Libyan war is surprisingly long. Tell us about what you think about that?

Bambery: The British air operations in Iraq cost one million pounds and that is $1.5 million per operation. It is a fantastic amount. Britain is slashing its public spending for the austerity measures at home, but the other thing about these weapons is that these are the weapons that we have seen and used in Iraq and Afghanistan and Balkans by the Americans ... [and] we know from Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere that civilians will die in these strikes.

I have to ask what the weaponry is for. What weaponry is for is to take out communications equipment of the Libyan armed forces. We have seen tanks in Gaddafi's own residences in Tripoli. It would seem to me that there is a strategy of trying to take Gaddafi militarily. I do not believe that this stuff in itself is enough. The airstrikes have not been enough to defeat Gaddafi's forces, which rely essentially on tanks and heavy weaponry on the ground.

At the end of the day, unless the British and French troops can train the Libyan resistance and provide them with the anti-weaponry necessary, it might well require the British and American troops on the ground. But I think there is growing opposition to that in America and Britain. In Britain, the Majority opinion is against military intervention in Libya and that is because of what happened in Iraq in particular, and because of the amount of deaths which are happening on a daily basis to the British soldiers in Afghanistan.

People are fed up with the cost of the war; are fed up with war, but also are questioning why it is that Britain, for instance, can afford huge amounts of money -- billions of pounds -- to be spent on the war in Libya while they are cutting back on healthcare, education and so on at home. So, I think there are a lot of questions being asked about this war. It is not popular and the people would not like to see it be extended to a military presence by the British and American and French in Libya.

Press TV: Wikileaks has released some files on Guantanamo, one of them was a former Libyan detainee, Abu Sofian Ben Guemu; picked up in Pakistan and arrived in Guantanamo. He is a high-profile and high-risk extremist terrorist, but he was released four years ago and now it is revealed that he is in Libya, fighting with the revolutionaries even though he has contacts with al-Qaeda. He is fighting with revolutionaries and he is associated with al-Qaeda, if when Gaddafi goes, then we have an al-Qaeda element which gives a solid reason maybe for the US and the West to move in to get that helm.

Bambery: There is a history of British and American involvement of al-Qaeda at different times in the past. They worked with them against the Russians in Afghanistan and it is well-known that those elements are among the revolutionaries in Eastern Libya. I think they are intervening, either against Gaddafi or in the process of the revolution itself. So, I think they are contaminating the revolution, which means the Libyan revolution is now isolated from the popular uprisings which are now taking place in Tunisia and Egypt, because there people are very suspicious of the West. That is what I mean by contamination ... It is a tragedy that the Western intervention has corrupted the revolution in Libya and it is turning it towards kind of a policing for the West or the Americans, British and French in the region. That is what I meant by the comparison with the people in Kosovo and northern Iraq.

The Americans, British and French have seized legitimate grievances but have used them to their own corrupt ends. I do think there is a wider picture here that thus far up to this moment, American policies are not being very incoherent in dealing with the Arab revolutions. This is a way of giving leverage.

We should be asking questions. Why is the West intervening in Libya? Why are they doing nothing about [President Ali Abdullah] Saleh in Yemen, who is killing his own people, or about the brutal Saudi invasion of Bahrain? There is hypocrisy over this.

Press TV: Why do you think that is?

Bambery: I think Bahrain is clearly a very strategic ally of America. It is where its [Navy Fifth] Fleet is based and it is a very huge financial center for the West. The British have massive investments there and they are close friends of the royal family.

In terms of Yemen, Saleh has been a crucial ally of the Americans in the so-called war against terror and they have been desperately trying to keep him in position, despite the fact that he is killing his own people and a vast majority of Yemenis want him out.

In both instances, the Americans and the British have been boogiemen of outside intervention. In the case of Bahrain, they are trying to pretend almost a humanitarian intervention, to save poor Bahrain from Iran. Seventy percent of the population of Bahrain is Shia and has a right to self-determination. In the case of Yemen, again they use al-Qaeda as they will to raise their boogimen.

Press TV: When we are talking about these intelligence officers that have been reported to be in Benghazi and Tobruk, threefold mission as is being reported helped the revolutionaries in terms of their day-to-day activities: organize their paramilitary units, teach them how to use weapons. But the third one which interesting and this is back on February 24th when it was reported, to prepare infrastructure for the intake of additional foreign troops. Now, it says Egyptian units are among those under consideration but Egypt is under its own challenge, but if that was one of the purposes, do you think by now a base has been established?

Bambery: ... In Iraq at the beginning of 1990s, we had a no-fly zone and we had economic sanctions. The no-fly zone was enforced regularly by airstrikes by the Americans and the British and ultimately the sanctions and the no-fly zone were used as a softening-up process for the invasion of Iraq in the beginning of the last decade. So, I think you can draw parallels with this.

Even if the British, Americans, French and Italians have airbases in Libya, it would require boots on the ground to protect those air bases. You would have to have boots on the ground to protect the superstructure; you would have to have quite considerable number of advisors and trainers to turn the revolutionary forces into a conventional army; you would have to provide heavy weaponry; all of this would end up in the build-up and build-up and build-up of forces and as you get more and more Western forces in there, actually you would require combat troops to protect them.

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