How Italy Forced NATO’s Hand on Libya

by MICHAEL LEONARDI

Silvio Berlusconi has come out on top once again as Gadaffi’s closest and largest  trading partner has forced NATO’s hand into taking the lead in the military intervention   in Libya. Libya supplies 1/3 of Italy’s oil and almost 15 % of Europe’s. They are one of  the gateways of immigrants to the Italian island of Lampedusa. This NATO military  intervention, like the one in Afghanistan, will be using the "humanitarian" cover to  seize control of key resource rich and geopolitical areas.  This intervention will also  provide a foothold to the Western powers for the strangling of a true peoples  revolution in the Middle East and North Africa. The hypocrisy of the U.S.’s foreign  policy was made clear on Thursday March 24th by the U.S. defense minister Robert  Gates as he called Israel’s resumed bombing of the civilian population in Gaza a  legitimate use of force. In regards to Libya, Italy’s cooperation with a NATO led  intervention is beyond the pale of hypocritical.

Berlusconi’s Italy has much more to preserve than any of its western allies from the  latest so-called "humanitarian mission" in Libya. Over the past decade Berlusconi has  worked to solidify his relationship with Gadaffi and to create a close-knit economic and political partnership between Italy and this former colony of Mussolini’s fascist regime.  Gadaffi and Berlusconi have been, until very recently, close friends.  As well as being  business and political partners, they share the common practice of being surrounded  by harems of young women.  They also share joint interest in media and ownership of  a satellite TV station in Libya. 

Fearing reprisals from their former colony and more recently closest business partner,  Italy has managed to force the NATO takeover of military operations in Libya. This  provides Italy the cover they so  desperately needed as they have allowed usage of  seven Italian bases for sorties being flown by France, Britain and the United States.  After making threats to halt their cooperation with the mission, the Italian neo-fascists  now have the Alliance poised to do their dirty work in blocking immigrants at the North  African coast from fleeing to the Italian island of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily.  Lampedusa has become destination number uno for immigrants seeking a safe-haven  and larger economic crumbs in fortress Europe as they attempt their journeys from  North Africa by Sea.  Italy’s xenophobic anti-immigrant fervor has been at a fever pitch  as the North African uprisings have opened the floodgates of migrants desperately  seeking survival in trying to reach Europe’s shores. Those that have reached the shores  of Lampedusa are now being housed in horrid conditions in refugee camps on the  island.

In 2008 Berlusconi and Gadaffi signed the Italy/Libya treaty on Friendship, Partnership  and Cooperation in Benghazi with much fanfare. This treaty created an exclusive  partnership between Italy and Libya on the agreement that Italy would pay the Libyan  government 5 billion dollars that would be largely spent on business partnerships with  Italian firms for construction and infrastructure projects. The agreement also ensured  that Gadaffi would hold African immigrants trying to reach Italy in horrid refugee  camps on the Libyan coast.  In 2009 the colonel showed up to Rome in one of his more  flamboyant military uniforms to mark the one year anniversary of this historic  agreement.  Gadaffi donned a colorfully decorated uniform with a large photo of the  Libyan resistance leader Omar Mukhtar pinned to his lapel when he arrived.  Berlusconi  and Gadaffi had a good time during the visit with late night extravagance fitting of the  hedonism for which Rome is famed.  Gadaffi  pitched his tent in one of Rome’s  beautiful parks, Villa Pamphilli, and was provided an audience of 1000 women by the  premier that he tried to convert to Islam.  They put on a flamboyant show for the  cameras as these  business partners worked out their slimy deals to enrich themselves  and closest partners.

Berlusconi and Gadaffi have shared investments in the media company called Quinta  communications which owns a recently launched satellite tv station in Maghreb called  Nessma TV. Through a variety on investment firms Gadaffi had about ten percent  interest and Berlusconi about 40 % in this media venture. When Berlusconi visited this  station on his trip to celebrate the second anniversary of the Italian/Libyan friendship  agreement he visited one of the satellite station’s outlets. Most so called democratic  countries would call this a conflict of interest, in Italy it was barely reported in the  media.

Headlines across Italy are now decrying an end to Berlusconi’s and Gadaffi’s bunga bunga, relationship in reference to the wild parties the two shared and their keen  interest in younger women. Berlusconi is due to be facing charges for his alleged  paying of a 16 year old Moroccan prostitute to attend wild sex parties at one of his  Mansions.  Berlusconi has voiced dismay over the uncomfortable situation he has been  forced into with his friend and colleague stating that "this hits him on a personal level."   Gadaffi has said that he is deeply hurt and dismayed by his good friend and partner in  crime turning his back on him and that all deals with Italy are off until Berlusconi is  gone. Italy’s defense minister and member of the racist Northern League, Ignazio La  Russa, announced a little over a week ago that the Italy/Libya friendship deal was off  until further notice leaving Italian contractors poised to profit from the deal with some  unforeseen economic misfortune.

On February 21st just after the uprisings in Libya began, the Italian stock market lost  3.6 percentage in a veritable free fall.  A "coincidental technical glitch" shut down the  Italian markets on the 22nd of February for seven hours halting a more devastating  crash. The Libyan’s hold a 40 billion dollar investment in one of Italy’s largest banks,  Unicredit so it is not just oil, construction, and immigration where the  countries’ economic interests have been intertwined. Now it is Italy’s hope that NATO  will preserve their investments and thus work to uphold these criminal assets of the  European economy, if not it could only spell trouble for all. 

This conflict is being seized upon to grab geopolitical and economic turf. Italy and  Libya have a despicable economic partnership and the benefits from it are what  Berlusconi is interested in preserving, nothing else. Many Libyans too want a piece of  this destructive and racist pie. The United States, France and Britain share similar goals  as the release of the Lockerbie bomber to ensure a deal for British Petroleum prove.  Hopefully it is becoming common knowledge that British Petroleum is set to construct  the largest and deepest offshore oil rig in the Mediterranean,  much like "deep  horizon", in Libyan waters off the coast of North Africa. Gadaffi will have a very hard  surviving and would have without this military expansionism in the Mediterranean.  This military expansion is only going to ensure profits for Berlusconi’s cronies, British  Petroleum and other factions of Libyan capitalists that will plunder in place of Gadaffi. 

The hypocrisy is glaring, almost blinding. Companies like Haliburton, British Petroleum,  the Italian energy giant Eni, and a host of others will have plenty of jobs to dole out to  middle and upper middle class Libyans that have benefited from slimy recent dealings  between Gadaffi and Berlusconi, now they’ll have direct bidding to European and  American corporate colonialists and maybe a little larger slice of the pie.  British  Petroleum drilling in the Mediterranean, wouldn’t it be better to see British Petroleum  eliminated completely from the face of the earth? Wouldn’t it be great to see Libya develop sustainably and not be run by corporate parasites, to me that is what real  revolution would look like, and it is definitely not going to happen now with NATO  leading this "humanitarian" mission to protect the innocent civilians.

MICHAEL LEONARDI is currently living in Toledo, Ohio and can be reached at mikeleonardi@hotmail.com

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Stephen Lendman
The Show Trial of Saif Qaddafi: a Manufactured Death Sentence
Dmitry Kolesnik
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: A New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone