If you are able to donate $100 or more for our Annual Fund Drive, your donation will be matched by another generous CounterPuncher! These are tough times. Regardless of the political rhetoric bantered about the airwaves, the recession hasn’t ended for most of us. We know that money is tight for many of you. But we also know that tens of thousands of daily readers of CounterPunch depend on us to slice through the smokescreen and tell it like is. Please, donate if you can!
Jean-Paul Pougala’s April 14, 2011 piece in Pambazuka News titled “The Lies Behind the West’s War on Libya” describes how Africa first developed its own transcontinental communications system by purchasing a telecommunications satellite on December 26, 2007: the African Development Bank ponied up $50 million toward the nearly $400 million cost of the orbiter and the West African Development Bank added $27 million more. Libya contributed $300 million, which made the purchase possible. Pougala writes that when it was up and running, the new system was “connecting the entire continent by telephone, television, radio broadcasting, and several other technological applications such as telemedicine and distance teaching.”
After 14 years of foot-dragging by the IMF and the World Bank, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s generosity allowed for this one-time purchase that spared the nations of Africa a $500 million annual lease payment for access to a telecom satellite and euchred Western banks out of potential billions in loans and interest. At this time, Gaddafi was also seeking to establish a trans-African banking system based on gold to free the continent from its financial bondage to the IMF and the World Bank—which would gravely harm both predatory entities.
Since 2003, Gaddafi had worked hard to repair his reputation for financing terrorism by renouncing any future support for terrorist organizations and by establishing a fund to compensate victims of Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772, each destroyed by acts of terror believed to have been financed by Libya. On December 10, 2007 Gaddafi traveled to France for a pow-wow with then-President Nicolas Sarkozy.
During their December 11, 2007 meeting at the Elysee Palace, Gaddafi and Sarkozy signed some $15 billion worth of contracts for military hardware and a nuclear power station, but matters other than trade were also on the agenda. In a March 12, 2012 report, the French investigative journalism consortium Mediapart stated: “According to information contained in a confidential report prepared by a recognised French expert on terrorism and terrorist financing, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign received up to 50 million euros in secret funds from the regime of the late Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.” Documents released by Mediapart on September 11, 2016 confirm that the financial relationship between Gaddafi and Sarkozy dates back to December 10, 2006.
(Upon the intial release of this information in 2012, Sarkozy denied he’d accepted Libyan money to finance his campaign—which is illegal in France and could well land him in prison—and attempted to sue Mediapart. However, an official investigation was launched into Sarkozy’s conduct and when portions of the resulting secret report surfaced at Mediapart’s website, the evidence pointed squarely to Sarkozy’s receipt of Gaddafi’s cash.)
Gaddafi recognized that because of his telecom satellite intiative and his as yet unpublicized Pan-African banking proposal (which no doubt the West was well aware of), his popularity with Western leaders was slipping and that he might soon be the target of “regime change” and likely hoped that by financing Sarkozy’s election he was buying insurance against his own untimely death. Meantime he did his best to be seen as a good pro-West statesman. In August 2008 Gaddafi signed agreements with the US formalizing compensation for victims of state terror, and in September 2008 Condoleezza Rice visited Libya and declared that relations had between the two nations had entered a “new phase”.
But in February 2009 Gaddafi was elected Chairman of the African Union and first made public mention of a “United States of Africa” and hinted at the possibility of a pan-African banking system. (Ominously, on March 12, 2009 Sarkozy made France a part of NATO, breaking with a tradition that went back to de Gaulle.) Then, in August of 2009, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi—convicted of participating in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing—was released from prison in Scotland and given a hero’s welcome upon his return to Libya, and later that same year Libya inked a deal with Russia to purchase $1.8 billion in weapons. These developments did not enhance Gaddafi’s profile in Western eyes.
Also, there was a lot of money at stake. Prior to the fall of Gaddafi, oil-rich Libya had cash reserves of $150 billion, and there were 143 tons of gold in Gaddafi’s vaults. As Pougala wrote in his Pambazuka News piece: “[A large portion of this money] had been earmarked as the Libyan contribution to three key projects which would add the finishing touches to the African federation—the African Investment Bank in Syrte, Libya, the establishment in 2011 of the African Monetary Fund and the Abuja-based African Central Bank in Nigeria which when it starts printing African money will ring the death knell for the CFA franc through which Paris has been able to maintain its hold on some African countries for the last fifty years.”
In a June 7, 2016 posting at Black Opinion, Bob Fitrakis wrote:
The real reasons for the attack have been dealt with most directly by America’s most famous reformed economic hitman, John Perkins.
Perkins points out that the attack on Libya, like the attack on Iraq, has to do with power and control of resources, not only oil, but gold. Libya has the highest standard of living in Africa. According to the IMF, Libya’s Central Bank is 100% state owned. The IMF estimates that the bank has nearly 144 tons of gold in its vaults, Perkins wrote.
NATO went there like modern Barbary Coast Pirates to loot Libya’s gold. The Russian media, in addition to Perkins, reported that the Pan-Africanist Qaddafi, the former President of the African Union, had been advocating that Africa use the gold so plentiful in Libya and South Africa to create an African currency based on a gold dinar.
It is significant that in the months running up to the UN resolution that allowed the U.S. and its allies to send troops into Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi was openly advocating the creation of a new currency that would rival the dollar and the euro. In fact, he called upon African and Muslim nations to join an alliance that would make this new currency, the gold dinar, their primary form of money and foreign exchange. They would sell oil and other resources to the US and the rest of the world only for gold dinars, Perkins explained.
In December 2010, a revolution in Tunisia brought down the Tunisian government. Subsequently in January 2011 came a series of events hailed in the Western press as the “Arab Spring”: civil uprisings in Oman, Yemen, Egypt, Syria and Morocco. While these uprisings led to substantive change in Tunisia, they were brutally suppressed in Egypt and led to civil wars in Syria and Yemen that still rage. Those in Oman and Morocco fizzled out.
In Libya things broke funny. Starting on February 15, 2011, a series of protests demanding Gaddafi’s ouster erupted across Libya. By February 20, 2011 it was reported that some 300 civilians had been killed in the resulting violence, and that Gaddafi had launched warplanes against opposition groups in Tripoli. Sarkozy saw his opportunity to defend French bankers and to cover up his own illegal financial arrangement with Gaddafi. On March 10, 2011 Sarkozy officially recognized the Libyan “National Transitional Council” (NTC), the umbrella under which the “rebels” operated, and demanded the establishment of a “no-fly zone” in the event Gaddafi used chemical weapons or airstrikes against his own people.
A report in The Guardian dated March 11, 2011 noted:
Sarkozy’s unilateral decision to recognise Libya’s transitional council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people was seen as grossly premature. “Sarkozy is being irresponsible,” one EU diplomat said.
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said: “I find it a crazy move by France. To jump ahead and say ‘I will recognise a transitional government’ in the face of any diplomatic practice, is not the solution for Libya.”
On March 19, 2011 Sarkozy had French warplanes fly missions against Libya and ordered the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle into Libyan waters. But the French were not alone. Earlier that week—on March 15, 201—a US F-15 crashed in Libya. On March 29, 2011 the US confirmed that A-10 Warthogs and A-130 gunships had been employed over Libya. On April 16, 2011 Journalist Jeremy Scahill was interviewed on The Ed Show (this from Medium Blue: The Politics of MSNBC by Michael Arria (CounterPunch 2014)).
Scahill: . . . CIA operatives on the ground there [Libya] are sort of engaged in an eHarmony dot com or sort of you know dating service relationship with the rebels for the clandestine world. I mean, this is, as Colonel Jacobs said, standard fare. What I think is of more concern is the fact that there are certainly US special operations forces units that are deployed already, secretly, inside of Libya that are painting targets for the air strikes. But Ed, I have to say that the scenario you’re laying out—when you talk about arming the quote unquote “freedom fighters”, it really evokes images of the disastrous dirty wars of the 1980’s, I mean, the United States getting involved in what is effectively a Libyan civil war, a thousand or so rebels . . . They don’t have much military training. I mean, what you’re advocating is that Americans are going to have to be totally invested in one side of the civil war.
In his June 7, 2016 Black Opinion posting, Fitrakis writes:
. . . an unclassified U.S. Department of State document emailed to Hillary on April 2, 2011, key Clinton aide Michael Blumenthal confirmed that Perkins was right and the attack on Libya had nothing to do with Qaddafi being a threat to the United States and NATO and everything to do with looting his gold.
Qaddafi’s government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver. During late March, 2011, these stocks were moved to Sabha (south west in the direction of the Libyan border with Niger and Chad); taken from the vaults of the Libyan Central Bank in Tripoli, Blumenthal reported to Clinton.
Blumenthal pointed out the purpose of Qaddafi’s precious metal: This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan- African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).
Blumenthal spells out the reason for NATO’s attack and France’s imperial plunder, French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicholas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.
There were five reasons for France’s illegal war with NATO against Libya. Sarkozy sought, according to Blumenthal, a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libyan oil production, b. Increase French influence in North Africa, c. Improve his internal situation in France, d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to assert its position in the world, e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.
It is obvious from this email that while Blumenthal understood Sarkozy’s need to protect French bankers from Gaddafi’s ambitious plan to launch a gold-based trans-African banking system, Blumenthal did not have a handle on Sarkozy’s ulterior motive—eliminating evidence of the French President’s own criminality. It should also be noted—and underscored—that none of the reasons for military action Blumenthal listed in his damning email could possibly justify an unprovoked attack on another sovereign state.
On March 30, 2011 the British government expelled five diplomats from the Libyan embassy as relations between Libya and the West continued to deteriorate. Over the ensuing months battles raged all across Libya. At one point a truce between the Libyan government and the NTC was brokered but did not hold and by August 2011 the nation was once again in a full-fledged civil war.
After March 31, 2011 the United States enforced the “no-fly” zone over Libya, ostensibly to aid a legitimate uprising and to evict from power a bloodthirsty dictator, but the resulting attacks went much further than simply bringing down Gaddafi. On July 18, 2011 NATO targeted the Great Man-Made River, a massive irrigation project that brought water to thousands of acres of arid land. The warplanes that perpetrated this heinous act not only destroyed a vital piece of Libya’s infrastructure but on July 22, 2011 also destroyed a factory that according to Ellen Brown in her March 14, 2016 account for The Ecologist produced the only pipes necessary to repair it. This vicious, wanton devastation served no practical purpose whatsoever save for collectively punishing the Libyan people.
Aided and abetted by the Western powers, the “rebels” closed in on Tripoli and on August 21, 2011 the city fell to the NTC. Gaddafi and his staff and immediate family fled to Syrte. A little after 8:00 p.m. on October 20, 2011, with the “rebels” again closing in, Gaddafi attempted to flee Syrte in a convoy of 75 vehicles but his escape was discovered by RAF aircraft. A US Predator drone operated by someone sitting at a computer screen outside Las Vegas fired the first missiles into the fleeing vehicles. RAF aircraft also fired into the convoy. Ten vehicles were destroyed. Gaddafi survived the attack but was captured soon afterwards by the NTC, who found him hiding in a large drainage pipe. Gaddafi was shot several times and had a bayonet driven into his rectum.
Prior to Gaffafi’s murder, Libya was a stable country if not a traditional nation-state. According to a report titled “Gaddafi’s Libya Was Africa’s Most Prosperous Democracy” by Garikai Chengu that appeared in the January 12, 2013 edition of Countercurrents.org, “. . . Libya was divided into several small communities that were essentially “mini-autonomous States” within a State. These autonomous States had control over their districts and could make a range of decisions including how to allocate oil revenue and budgetary funds. Within these mini-autonomous States, the three main bodies of Libya’s democracy were Local Committees, People’s Congresses and Executive Revolutionary Councils.” Chengu details how Local Committees reported to People’s Congresses that in turn passed decisions up to the Executive Revolutionary councils, thus creating a broad consensus on those decisions affecting the entire population. “The Libyan direct democracy system utilized the word ‘elevation’ rather than ‘election’, and avoided the political campaigning that is a feature of traditional political parties and benefits only the bourgeoisie’s well-heeled and well-to-do,” Chengu writes. “Unlike the West, Libyans did not vote once every four years for a President and local parliamentarian who would then make all decisions for them. Ordinary Libyans made decisions regarding foreign, domestic and economic policy themselves.” Toppling Gaddafi erased a system of government that had functioned smoothly—and fairly—for nearly half a century.
Nicolas Sarkozy remains a free man. He has yet to be prosecuted for receiving illegal Libyan cash to finance his presidential campaign or for launching an illegal war to cover up his criminal relationship with Gaddafi.
Much has been written about the catastrophe visited upon Libya following the murderous attack by France and the US—400,000 people driven from their homes, an endless cycle of terror and reprisal, the creation of yet another failed state in the wake of a US foreign policy initiative. But the real damage was done to Africa itself, for had Gaddafi’s proposal for a trans-African banking system reached fruition, that unhappy continent for the first time in centuries would have had true freedom and real independence within its grasp, a circumstance the Western powers could not abide. Freedom and justice were never part of the West’s agenda.
On the evening of October 20, 2011 while being interviewed by CBS in the wake of breaking news that Gaddafi was dead, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared a joke with her staff between takes, declaring: “We came, we saw, he died.” She then clapped her hands and laughed triumphantly. This remains the vilest and most degraded utterance delivered by an official of the US Government ever.