Europe is planning on recolonizing Libya, and so it will send in armed forces in the coming months to restore order and stem the flow of migrants coming from Africa. If this expedition army succeeds in securing parts of the country and restoring law and order, Italian and German engineers from ENI and Wintershall will follow suit to help resume the country’s oil production, which will add 1.3 million barrels per day (Libya produced 1.7 million barrels per day before Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011) to the world oil glut 1)Crude oil production in Libya Source EIA.
Until a couple of weeks ago Libya was governed by three governments:
- The original government just after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, formed by the Muslim Brotherhood residing in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.
- The internationally recognized (except for Turkey and Qatar) government in Tobruk. This government, created with the help of the European Union, which organized mock elections, was subsequently driven out of Tripoli2)Libya’s runaway parliament seeks refuge in Tobruk bubble Source BBC 2014-10-02;
- A kind of ISIS-run government controlling the area around Benghazi.
The real power of any of these groups does not seem to extend beyond the immediate neighbourhood of their residency; it is the chieftains of particular local tribes that de facto rule the rest of the area.
For a year, the Europeans have been trying in vain to create a unity government. In the meantime, the security situation is increasingly deteriorating. Libya has become a sanctuary for ISIS and other Jihadist groups and a transit country for millions of Africans that want to migrate to Europe. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in March that some 800,000 migrants are in Libya hoping to cross the Mediterranean this year3)800,000 migrants in Libya seeking to come to Europe: French minister Source EurActiv 2016-03-24).
The only way to prevent this from happening outside their jurisdiction i.e. neither on European soil nor using European law enforcement, is for the Europeans to regain control over the old Italian colony. It is no option for the Europeans to wait for the Libyans until they sort out their internal problems. For Europeans to be able to send in an expedition army, they need an official request from the Libyan government. An official invitation will make it “legal” for the “European Africa Corps”, which is yet to be formed, to operate freely as did the Russians in Syria. For that reason, they need first to install a government that will invite the European forces. Last month the Europeans created a new fresh “democratic” unity government out of thin air, which was, however, not recognised by the governments in Tobruk4)Libya’s recognized parliament rejects unity govt Source Al Arabiya 2016-01-26 and Tripoli. As the Europeans made an attempt to set up this government in Tripoli, the local administration closed the airspace around the city and blocked the roads from Tunis to prevent the imposed authorities from entering the city5)Libya unity government blames rival faction for Tripoli airspace closure Source Reuters 2016-03-29.
For that reason, the new administration had to come by boat. Rumor has it that Mr. Fayez Serraj, the Brussels-appointed head of state, was brought by the Italian navy.6)Head of UN-backed Libyan government sails into capital Source CTV 2016-03-30. Officially, he was carried by a Libyan naval vessel, with no image footing to corroborate this claim.
The EU resorts to threats as regards the members of the rival governments in Tobruk and Tripoli if they do not support the Brussels-backed government as a result of which some members of the official government in Tripoli have resigned without putting up a fight; there was the case when a dissenter opposing the move of the new masters from Brussels, saw his house mysteriously blown up7)Juma Sayeh’s Tripoli home attacked after he supports plans for rival State Council Source Libya Herald 2016-04-16.
The first task of the new UN “unity government” is to get rid of the two other rival governments and to stem the flow of migrants to Europe as soon as possible. Last week over 6000 immigrants from Africa arrived in Italy within four days8)Over 6,000 have made it to Italy from Libya Source Libyan Express 2016-04-16.
The second task is to secure French, Italian and German corporate interest in Libya. The oil installations in Libya, partly owned by France Total, Italian ENI and German Wintershall were abandoned last year and left to the protection of 27.000 fighters strong Petroleum Facilities Guard9)Fear of ISIS Attacks in Libya Shuts Down Major Oil Fields Source International Business Times 2016-04-17 . This guard is not under the authority of the Libyan army anymore and leaves the installations vulnerable to Jihadist militia attacks. It is in the interest of Saudi Arabia to destroy as many installations as possible through their jihadist proxies before the Europeans try to restore order in Libya. Saudi Arabia has a history of using Jihadists to pursue its national interest. The country was founded on this principle as Abdul ibn Saud used Wahibist extremists to conquer the Arabic Peninsula around 1925 10)Inside the Kingdom By Robert Lacey . While all Libyan rival tribes are trying to prevent the destruction of the Libyan oil infrastructure, there have been some mysterious attacks on oil terminals since the oil price dropped under 50 dollars. Oil storage tanks were set ablaze by jihadists in the major Libyan terminal of Ras Lanuf in January this year 11)Fires still raging at major Libyan oil terminal after attack Source Reuters 2016-01-22. End 2014, an oil terminal was burned down as a result of it after a boat attack that also killed 22 Libyan soldiers12)22 Libyan soldiers killed in boat attack on oil terminals Source The Sydney Morning Herald 2014-12-26
The Europeans are in a hurry. Without the new unity government fully installed and with some street battles going on in Tripoli, the Italian, French and German foreign ministers visited the city last week to pledge their support for the heavily contested “unity government”. French, Italian and British special forces are operating in Libya for the last couple of months according to the French newspaper Le Monde13)La guerre secrète de la France en Libye Source Le Monde 2016-02-24. But these forces are not able to fulfill Brussels’ objectives.
The question is not whether but rather when the Europeans will send armed forces into Libya. The British have already pledged 1000 men14)Senior Tories attack ‘disastrous plan’ to station 1,000 UK troops in Libya Source The Telegraph 2016-03-16 while the Italians have said they would add 5000 soldiers to the newly formed army to restore order in Libya. We expect Brussels to use this as a good opportunity to strengthen the Eurocorps, the harbinger of the pan-European army that is at present performing a minor military operation in Mali. The Eurocorps could probably deploy 5000 men 15)Source Eurocorps. The coming operation in Libya will be the first large-scale EU joint military intervention ever. No matter how Brussels will frame it, it is a hostile military takeover of the country16)Russia says Libya military intervention needs U.N. approval Source Reuters 2016-03-14.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Crude oil production in Libya Source EIA|
|2.||↑||Libya’s runaway parliament seeks refuge in Tobruk bubble Source BBC 2014-10-02|
|3.||↑||800,000 migrants in Libya seeking to come to Europe: French minister Source EurActiv 2016-03-24|
|4.||↑||Libya’s recognized parliament rejects unity govt Source Al Arabiya 2016-01-26|
|5.||↑||Libya unity government blames rival faction for Tripoli airspace closure Source Reuters 2016-03-29|
|6.||↑||Head of UN-backed Libyan government sails into capital Source CTV 2016-03-30|
|7.||↑||Juma Sayeh’s Tripoli home attacked after he supports plans for rival State Council Source Libya Herald 2016-04-16|
|8.||↑||Over 6,000 have made it to Italy from Libya Source Libyan Express 2016-04-16|
|9.||↑||Fear of ISIS Attacks in Libya Shuts Down Major Oil Fields Source International Business Times 2016-04-17|
|10.||↑||Inside the Kingdom By Robert Lacey|
|11.||↑||Fires still raging at major Libyan oil terminal after attack Source Reuters 2016-01-22|
|12.||↑||22 Libyan soldiers killed in boat attack on oil terminals Source The Sydney Morning Herald 2014-12-26|
|13.||↑||La guerre secrète de la France en Libye Source Le Monde 2016-02-24|
|14.||↑||Senior Tories attack ‘disastrous plan’ to station 1,000 UK troops in Libya Source The Telegraph 2016-03-16|
|16.||↑||Russia says Libya military intervention needs U.N. approval Source Reuters 2016-03-14|