Friday, March 25, 2011

Gaddafi, Sarko, Berlusconi, Obama, Mesmari...

It was rather obvious that there were internal conflicts within the Capitalist Empire (alias NATO) in relation with Libya. It was also quite obvious that Italy was playing soft on Gaddafi, while France was playing extremely hard. This is no mere good cop, bad cop scenario but, it seems, a genuine intra-Capitalist rivalry between various actors. 

On one hand, Italy's interests, represented by its oil and gas corporation ENI, had in Libya a safe source of oil and gas. However the division of the cake was highly favorable to the Libyan regime, which took as much as 88% of the oil and 60% of the gas extracted by the Italian corporation (i.e. by its workers*). It is not clear how much of this went to the Libyan people or to the mostly immigrant workers, probably not much. 

For Italy anyhow, Libya was a secure source of oil independent from other multinationals, so, even if reluctantly it was willing to pay such a price and give Gaddafi his bribe in form of titles in FIAT, etc. 

On the other hand France seems to have been less happy about Gaddafi in spite of this one having bribed Sarko by paying for his electoral campaign (it seems now). We do not know many details but in October 2010 a red-haired Libyan, a close ally of Col. Gaddafi by name of Nouri Massoud El-Mesmari (left), deserted the regime and sought support in France. He proved to be a valuable source of information for them. 

A month later, a French commercial delegation landed in Benghazi, including members of the more than dubious "Swiss" multinational Glencore Inc. and, of course, standard French spies. They contacted military officers who Mesmari suggested would be willing to defect or revolt against Gaddafi. 

This is what Miguel Martínez gathers from the revelations of right-wing journalist F. Bechis at Come Don Chisciotte (Like Don Quixote) - translated to English and French at Voltaire Net.  Martínez explains that Bechis is a media pretorian guard of Silvio Berlusconi, so what he says is probably a leak coming directly from the Italian PM and his closest circle. 

And this underlines the Italo-French rivalry underlying the current messy coalition.

However it is also clear that neither of the imperialist actors under the NATO acronym are happy with the conditions imposed by Gaddafi, taking most of the product. They all want a greater share of the cake, preferably a true neocolonial one in which the multinational corporations take most of the product and the benefits. 

This should worry the local actors and that is probably why the Arab League has eventually pulled back from the deal and is not really taking part in the coalition. And should also worry the nationalist actors of Latin America, which have to fear that, after Gaddafi, the next ones could be themselves: either Cuba or Venezuela. 

The circumstances are very different because the Libyan autocracy emphasized isolationism and never fought any media battles to sell its social system as any sort of success. Instead the Latin American countries are open for all to see the good and the bad, we can judge and take sides informed, unlike in Libya.

So, has there been a revolutionary process in Libya? Surely yes: inspired by what was happening around them, in Tunisia and Egypt, the Libyan people tried to join the movement and make change also in this peculiar state (nobody likes living in a police state). However, while in other countries the main goal of the Western powers was to keep things under control and only allow minimal change if possible, in Libya it was soon something different: co-opting and promoting the revolutionary movement instead.

Nowadays, the USA has, more or less, taken over the leadership of the anti-Gaddafi coalition but Sarko's leadership is still more than apparent, whoever is formally in charge. The UN resolution, rightfully described as a "crusade call" by Putin, allows for nearly anything short of landing troops in Tripoli and it seems clear to me that Sarko is going to make use of these ambiguities to make his plans succeed. 

Whether he actually success is yet to be seen however - and a defeat would see Libya falling into the arms of Russia and China, even if only out of necessity.


*Old good Bertolt Brecht always rings when we have to make such an emphasis on how a company are the workers, not the accountancy virtualities like money or property titles:

Julius Caesar conquered Gaul.
Didn't he bring even a cook with him?

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