Posts tagged ‘Libya’

September 8, 2011

War for oil?

TERRY MACALISTER: So, was this a war for oil?

OIL POLITICS: Smoke rises from an oil terminal in the town of Brega, Libya, on August 15. Most of the town has been liberated from Qadhafi's forces.

The dust in Libya has not yet settled, but already the struggle has begun over who gets what.

The Libyan conflict has been a war about oil if not “for” oil. The country’s economy is almost totally dependent on hydrocarbons and a key objective for the transitional government will be to get the wells up and running again as soon as possible. [READ THE REST]

Jaffar Al-Rikabi: In Arab Protests, Oil Role Defies Simple Explanations

Oil is perhaps the most commonly cited factor in explaining the course of the various Arab revolutions in train since the Spring, but compared across countries its influence proves less decisive than generally suggested, argues Jaffar Al-Rikabi.

With the European Union announcing last Friday an oil embargo on Syria, denounced by some as ‘ too little too late,’ and by others as leading to ‘ nothing good,’ the impact of oil on the fate of the Arab protests has come to the fore of public attention.

In Libya, The National Transitional Council is scrambling to revive oil production, with new oil minister  Ali Tarhouni declaring last Saturday that production at the Misla and Sarir oil fields would be restarting in ten days time. During the preceding months of fighting between Gaddafi and rebel forces, Qatar had come to the rescue of the opposition, providing towns in eastern Libya with petrol, diesel and cooking gas to stave off a fuel crisis in rebel areas.  [READ THE REST]

August 26, 2011

Free Libya

Juan Cole explores ten myths about the Libya war. The tenth myth is that the war was all about oil. Here’s Cole’s response:

That is daft. Libya was already integrated into the international oil markets, and had done billions of deals with BP, ENI, etc., etc. None of those companies would have wanted to endanger their contracts by getting rid of the ruler who had signed them. They had often already had the trauma of having to compete for post-war Iraqi contracts, a process in which many did less well than they would have liked. ENI’s profits were hurt by the Libyan revolution, as were those of Total SA. andRepsol. Moreover, taking Libyan oil off the market through a NATO military intervention could have been foreseen to put up oil prices, which no Western elected leader would have wanted to see, especially Barack Obama, with the danger that a spike in energy prices could prolong the economic doldrums. An economic argument for imperialism is fine if it makes sense, but this one does not, and there is no good evidence for it (that Qaddafi was erratic is not enough), and is therefore just a conspiracy theory.

July 22, 2011

More news behind the headlines

In this edition, the shifting sands of power in the Middle East, the alliance between Iran and North Korea, the politics of India’s oil supply, Vince Cable’s corrupt dealings, and why Mongolia matters.

Is Libya trying to sell off its shipping fleet? – By Robert Zeliger

blog.foreignpolicy.com – How desperate is Muammar Qaddafi to raise cash? According to a new report, the Libyan leader is trying to unload the country’s fleet of 22 shipping vessels as economic sanctions and continued fight.

Why Mongolia Matters « Commentary Magazine

commentarymagazine.com – Our colleague Michael Rubin makes a good case for why we should care about Mongolia as well as why we should reject the realpolitik that would have the United States eschew friendship with small st..

How Saudi Arabia and Qatar Became Friends Again – By Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi

foreignpolicy.com – In the spring of 2006, Qatar’s then energy minister broke his silence on a stalled, multibillion-dollar project to supply Qatari gas to Kuwait. “We have received no clearance from Saudi Arabia” he…

North Korea and Iran increase collaboration on nuclear missile, report claims

telegraph.co.uk – It was capable of manufacturing high strength steel that Iran has been unable to manufacture. Iran has instead relied on carbon fibre materials that are less reliable.”What previously had been a on…

‘India can cope with oil supply halt’

timesofindia.indiatimes.com – NEW DELHI: India has back-up plan to cope with a halt to crude supplies from Iran, oil minister S Jaipal Reddy said, as the Islamic republic upped the ante in an oil payments row and Indian refiner…

Cable flies into controversy with £32m for Westland Business News, Business

independent.co.uk – AgustaWestland has secured a £22m government loan to build the new AW169 helicopter at its Yeovil factory, along with £10m in research and development grants. The funds, announced by the Business…

April 8, 2011

War in the Middle East: follow the money

From Der Spiegel:

Weapons Sales to the Arab World under Scrutiny

By Benjamin Bidder and Clemens Höges

Bernhard Zand/ DER SPIEGEL

In recent years, Western countries have made a bundle selling arms to Arab despots. But, as with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, some of yesterday’s buyers have become today’s enemies. Now major weapons exporters must seek a new balance between arms profits and human rights.

The revolutions in the Arab world caught British Prime Minister David Cameron off guard. For some time, diplomats had been planning a trip for Cameron that would take him to several countries in the Middle East. In fact, it was meant to be more of a trade mission, with Cameron’s delegation consisting largely of high-level executives from Great Britain’s weapons industry.

But then came the revolutions in Arab countries and the fighting in Libya. Ignoring them was impossible, and Cameron added a six hour stopover in Cairo to his already tight schedule. It was almost exactly a month ago that he visited Tahrir Square in the center of the city, the focal point of mass demonstration which ultimately forced Egypt’s aging leader, Hosni Mubarak, out of office.

“Meeting the young people and the representatives of the groups in Tahrir Square was genuinely inspiring,” Cameron said. “These are people who have risked a huge amount for what they believe in.”

From Egypt, Cameron flew on to Kuwait, where he got down to the real purpose of his trip: selling weapons to Arab autocrats. When members of parliament back home attacked him for this lack of tact, the prime minister insisted there was nothing wrong with such business transactions and that, in any case, his government made weapons buyers pledge to not use them to violate human rights under any circumstances. Great Britain, he said, has “nothing to be ashamed of.”

Britain, though, has exported over €100 million ($142 million) in weapons to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in the last two years alone. Included in those shipments are sniper rifles that may currently be in use against the Libyan opposition. Furthermore, Gadhafi’s terror police are British-trained. Indeed, British officials were forced to hastily revoke 50 arms export licenses to Libya and Bahrain.

Friends of Convenience

Cameron now finds himself in a tight spot shared by many Western politicians. Policies that seemed fine prior to the revolutions are now questionable. Regional paradigms are shifting and, at a time when populations are throwing off the yoke of oppression, Realpolitik is a poor guide to Western policy.

Until recently, the West had been arming despots in the Arab world with a series of ever-larger, billion-dollar deals that served to stabilize their regimes. Some are close allies when it comes to Iran and al-Qaida, making questions about human rights and democracy secondary.

In addition, many of the region’s potentates were convenient partners for the West: They had their people more or less under control, and some provided oil. Even Gadhafi proved useful by keeping poor African refugees out of Europe. Likewise, many of the rulers bought whatever the West’s defense industry put up for sale.

The Ascent of German Arms

This was certainly also the case with Germany’s defense industry. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), though it still lags far behind the United States and Russia, Germany has become the world’s third-largest weapons exporter in recent years.

Indeed, SIPRI statistics show that, over the last decade, the German defense industry’s share of the global arms market has doubled to 11 percent. In 2008, the total value of these arms sales amounted to just under €6 billion. Germany primarily supplies high-tech items, such as submarines and military electronics. German defense corporations — such as EADS, Rheinmetall and Heckler & Koch — together employ roughly 80,000 people.

German military wares are so good that even Russia has become a reliable customer. Although Russia’s own products are perfectly suited for guerilla warfare in Africa, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov admits that they no longer meet “modern requirements.”

For this reason, Russia plans to order military hardware worth nearly €500 billion by 2020, including many items from the West. The Russian army would like to replace its T-90 tanks for the German Leopard 2, and Rheinmetall is to provide armored plating for other Russian vehicles. Even Russia’s mobile military camps will soon be “made in Germany.” Kärcher Futuretech, a company based in Winnenden, near Stuttgart, manufactures the finest in field kitchens and water purification systems.[…]

From Le Monde Diplo:

by Samir Aita
[…] Monarchies in the Arab world have been absolute, and life-long presidents (with hereditary office) ruled the republics, because they created a supreme power above both state and post-independence institutions (1). They set up and controlled their own security services to ensure that their powers would endure; the services escaped parliamentary or government supervision, and their members could reprimand a minister and impose decisions. It costs money to run such services, and the clientelist networks of one-party states. The funds derive not from public budgets, as do those for the police and the army, but from different sources of revenue. (The New York Times recently reported that Muammar Gaddafi had demanded in 2009 that oil firms operating in Libya should contribute to the $1.5bn he had promised to pay in compensation for the Lockerbie terrorist murders – or lose their licences. Many paid. And Gaddafi’s immediate cash holdings of billions of dollars are thought to be funding his mercenaries and supporters to defend him.)

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April 4, 2011

Multipolar world

Juan Cole points out one of the positive dimensions to living in a mulitpolar world.

Our multilateral world has more spaces in it for successful change and defiance of totalitarianism than did the old bipolar world of the Cold War, where the US and the USSR often deferred to each other’s sphere of influence.

March 16, 2011

Libya and the politics of oil

Gene, in an aptly titled post ,”The anti-imperialism of boneheads“, writes:

At his 21stcenturymanifesto blog, the Communist Party of Britain’s Nick Wright has posted this devastating graphic argument against a no-fly zone in Libya.

A classic example of boneheaded anti-imperialism in purest form: Companies like BP lust after Libyan oil; therefore they must be pushing to overthrow the government which is supposedly blocking their access to it.

In fact, reports BloggingStocks:

The political turmoil in Libya must be chilling for BP as it could bring into limbo the future of the $900 million exploration and production agreement BP had signed with the Libya’s National Oil Company in 2007. The deal was BP’s single biggest exploration commitment at that time and gave BP the rights to explore 21,000 square miles onshore and offshore of Libya.

That is to say: the last damn thing BP wanted was a rebellion against a regime with which it signed a $900 million deal. And now that the rebellion is underway, the last damn thing BP wants is for it to succeed.

It would be bad for business.

March 8, 2011

The World’s Top Ten Gaddafi Toads

I missed this, by Walter Russell Mead, yesterday.

The Mead List: World’s Top Ten Gaddafi Toads

Gaddafi Toad Number Four: Nicholas Sarkozy

After a meeting with French President Nicholas Sarkozy in 2007, the Great Loon explained that no difficult subjects came up.  “President Sarkozy and I did not discuss [human rights].  We are quite close friends.  We cooperate.”

True enough; France has a long history of self-abasement before self-important African dictators who slaughter their citizens while bribing important French political families and giving sweetheart deals to French companies.  This is, I am told, somehow connected to French glory and prestige — although the precise connection eludes me.  As recently as January 20 of this year, Libya was boasting about $27 billion of French corporate activity in the country; clearly, as long as Gaddafi’s goon squads could intimidate the domestic opposition, Sarkozy would have continued to flatter Gaddafi, sweeping all unpleasant subjects under the rug.

Gaddafi Toad Number Seven: Silvio Berlusconi

The embattled Italian prime minister is a truly rare bird among the Gaddafi suck-ups. Most of Gaddafi’s hangers-on at least got paid; Berlusconi and Italian taxpayers are paying for the privilege of stroking the Loon. In 2008 Berlusconi pledged $5 billion in “reparations” for Italy’s sins while it kept Libya under colonial rule for much of the 20th century; the next year he sent the Italian air force to put on a special show for Gaddafi’s birthday. Bunga! Bunga! Bunga!

Nine: The London School of Economics

Lots of universities take money from lots of unsavory donors; as a university professor, I sympathize. The emperor Vespasian levied a tax on the urine collected from Rome’s main sewer (and used as a source of chemicals for bleaching and other processes). His son complained about the disgusting and stinky revenue source: his father held up a gold coin and said “Pecunia non olet,” the money doesn’t stink. There are plenty of Non Olet chairs for professors of this and that around the world today, and there are worse uses for money than to keep academics out of the cold.

But there are limits, and the London School of Economics went well beyond these when it accepted a gift of $2.4 million from distinguished alum (and mad-dog son of Gaddafi) Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to establish a program on “civil society issues” in North Africa. Next up at LSE: the Herman Goering Chair in Judaic Studies.

UPDATE Since the original post went up earlier today, I’ve seenthis from an article by David Corn and Siddhartha Mahanta inMother Jones, thanks to the diligence of crack research associate Peter Mellgard.  According to Corn and Mahanta, Walt, Barber and a number of other well known Americans were sent to Libya as part of a PR offensive by a company hired by Libya to clean up Gaddafi’s sordid image.  The story is worth reading; some of the figures mentioned in it, like Robert Putnam, come away looking good.  Others do not.

I’ll post another time about the ethics of intellectuals and dictators; I’ve been to places like North Korea, Cuba and the Soviet Union back when it was still the Evil Empire, and it’s not always easy to know what to do.  But it does seem that if you are paid a consulting fee by a for-profit PR firm hired by the dictator’s government, that is something you should disclose when and if you write about what you saw.

I wish I believed there were some lessons from all this that we could learn and move on. The reality is that nothing much is likely to change. Gaddafi will, one hopes, fall — and soon. But power doesn’t just corrupt those who hold it. It corrupts those who behold it: there will always be people around who are ready and willing to praise the emperor’s new clothes.

March 7, 2011

British corruption, Big oil and the Libyan dictators

London School of Useful Idiots

Click on the pic for the story. More from Bob:

Jonathan Freedland has an excellent article on the West’s bipolar disorder when it comes to Arab tyrants. Inter alia, he mentions the appalling apologetics of the London School of Economics establishment, including Baron Anthony Giddens’ 2007 belief that Libya would become the Norway of the region without regime change (see also Andrew Coates) and [former Financial Service Authority head] Howard Davies’ bizarre equation between Gaddafi and George Soros. It turns out that Saif Gaddafi’s LSE PhD (lauded by Lord Desai and acknowledging David Held) is at least partly based on plagiarism. I think LSE founder Beatrice Webb, who whitewashed Stalin’s dictatorship, would be proud. [UPDATE: I wrote that last night and was glad to see hear this morning that Davies has resigned, my second schadenfreude moment. Also read Stephen Pollard on British universities and blood moneyUpdate 2: Just read Jim’s post on same topic, which links to more from Nick Cohen. See also Marko on why hostile democracies are better than friendly dictatorships.]

But while Colonel Qaddafi has been happy to receive the British elite in his Tripoli villa or desert tent, Saif has proved a much more committed Anglophile, being entertained by the good and the great of British society on frequent visits.

Two years ago, he bought a £10 million house, complete with suede-lined cinema, in north London. He has overseen central London property purchases by the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) amounting to at least £300m.

But it has been his relationship with Prince Andrew, the Duke of York who acts as Britain’s international trade envoy, that has raised the most eyebrows.

The prince has hosted events at both Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace in London for the dictator’s son. In addition to heading trade missions to Libya, the prince has also made three private visits there in recent years as Saif’s guest.

A friend of the prince was quoted in the Daily Mail yesterday as saying: “He and Saif became incredibly close. Both enjoy having a good time and they had fun together. Andrew could open doors with his royal status and Saif could open other doors with his family’s money.” This closeness led Chris Bryant, the shadow justice minister, to demand in the Commons on Monday that Prime Minister David Cameron sack the prince as trade envoy. “Isn’t it increasingly difficult to explain the behaviour of the UKTI [UK Trade and Investment] special ambassador for trade …?” asked Mr Bryant, a former foreign office minister. “Isn’t it time we dispensed with the services of the Duke?”

Mr Cameron responded that he was not aware of the prince’s connections with Saif but said he would be “very happy to look into them”.

Questions are also being asked about Mr Blair’s closeness to Saif and his father – which many blame for the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al Megrahi in 2009 – and also that of Lord (Peter) Mandelson, the former business secretary and éminence grise of the Labour Party during its 13 years in power.

Days before al Megrahi’s release, Lord Mandelson and Saif were both guests at the Corfu villa belonging to billionaire financiers Jacob and Nat Rothschild.

[Saif keeps his pet tigers]  at his villa on a hillside overlooking Tripoli, along with his hunting falcons, sporting guns and other  trappings essential to the life of a  desert princeling. Saif often emerges from his encounters with the big cats bloodied and bruised, yet cheerfully game for a re-match. It may help to explain why, in his campaign to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, he found Labour ministers were mere pussycats.

Saif has a house close to Bishop’s Avenue, the so-called Millionaire’s Row, in Hampstead, north London. The Georgian style, newly-built property has eight bedrooms, an indoor pool, sauna and a cinema lined in suede-covered panelling.
It cost him £10million. In Britain, Saif moves in exclusive circles. He and Prince Andrew have a mutual close friend, the Kazakh-born socialite and businesswoman Goga Ashkenazy.

She recently helped arrange Saif’s visit to Kazakhstan where he met the president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and senior figures in the energy industry.

Prince Andrew has made a number of visits to Libya as Britain’s ambassador for trade and has spent time with Saif in Tripoli. In return, the prince has hosted Saif at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. […]

Mandelson and Saif got along famously and the subject of Al Megrahi, who was still in jail, was raised. Mandelson insists there was no negotiation. Also at Waddesdon Manor was Nat Rothschild, Lord Rothschild’s son. Nat and Saif are great pals. They also have a friend in  common, Oleg Deripaska, the controversial Russian oligarch who was the last man standing after the bloody war for control of Russia’s aluminium industry in the 1990s.

Deripaska, it will be recalled, was part of the infamous summer gathering at the Rothschild house on Corfu in 2008 when Mandelson and George Osborne, then chancellor-in-waiting, were guests. Saif has also stayed with the Rothschilds on Corfu and, on a separate occasion, met Mandelson there.

Deripaska has a valuable interest in Porto Montenegro, a vast marina and superyacht project in the Bay of Kotor on the Adriatic. The driving force behind the scheme is Peter Munk, the 83-year-old billionaire head of the world’s biggest goldmining concern, Barrick Gold.

Jacob and Nat Rothschild are also investors in the Montenegro venture which, Munk says, will become the new Monaco. When Saif threw a huge party to celebrate his 37th birthday he held it close to his friends’ Montenegro development, inviting some of the world’s leading business figures, including Munk, a few very powerful Russians and Lakshmi Mittal, the British-based steel tycoon.

The party was seen as an effort to give a boost to the profile of his friends’ marina project. His closeness to Nat Rothschild and Deripaska is also believed to be behind Libya’s decision to invest heavily in Deripaska’s aluminium concern, Rusal.

The Libyan Investment Authority took a $300million (£185million) stake in Rusal when it was floated in Hong Kong last year.

The Rothschilds were Deripaska’s advisers and separately Nat invested $100million (£62million) in the company, the world’s largest producer of aluminium. Saif was also involved in an ongoing plan for Rusal to produce aluminium on a major scale inside Libya.

And Chris Bryant in the Mail again, bringing the story more up to date:

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March 4, 2011

Who owns the US?

Federal_Debt-VS-Taxes

Image via Wikipedia

By Greg Bocquet, here:

Regardless of how much closer Obama’s budget brings our economy into a balance of payments not seen since 2001, we will continue to run deficits for the next decade, and the national debt will keep growing every year that happens.

While most of the country’s $14 trillion debt is held by private banks in the U.S., the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board estimate that, as of December, about $4.4 trillion of it was held by foreign governments that purchase our treasury securities much as an investor buys shares in a company and comes to own his or her little chunk of the organization.

Looking at the list of our top international creditors, a few overall characteristics show some interesting trends: Three of the top 10 spots are held by China and its constituent parts, and while two of our biggest creditors are fellow English-speaking democracies, a considerable share of our debt is held by oil exporters that tend to be decidedly less friendly in other areas of international relations.

Here we break down the top 10 foreign holders of U.S. debt, comparing each creditor’s holdings with the equivalent chunk of the United States they “own,” represented by the latest (2009) state gross domestic product data released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Obviously, these creditors won’t actually take states from us as payment on our debts, but it’s fun to imagine what states and national monuments they could assert a claim to.

foreigndebt-flags.jpg
©Radar Communication

1. Mainland China

Amount of U.S. debt: $891.6 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 20.4%

Building on the holdings of its associated territories, China is the undisputed largest holder of U.S. foreign debt in the world. Accounting for 20.4% of the total, mainland China’s $891.6 billion in U.S. treasury securities is almost equal to the combined 2009 GDP of Illinois ($630.4 billion) and Indiana ($262.6 billion) in 2009, a shade higher at a combined $893 billion. As President Obama — who is from Chicago — wrangles over his proposed budget with Congress he may be wise to remember that his home city may be at stake in the deal.

[…]

4. Oil Exporters

Amount of U.S. debt: $218 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 5%

Another grouped entry, the oil exporters form another international bloc with money to burn. The group includes 15 countries as diverse as the regions they represent: Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Gabon, Libya, and Nigeria. As a group they hold 5% of all American foreign debt, with a combined $218 billion of U.S. treasury securities in their own treasuries. That’s roughly equivalent to the combined 2009 GDP of Nebraska ($86.4 billion) and Kansas ($124.9 billion), which seems to be an equal trade: The two states produce a bunch of grain for export, which many of the arid oil producers tend to trade for oil.

[…]

6. Caribbean Banking Centers

Amount of U.S. debt: $155.6 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 3.6%

You have to have cash on hand to buy up U.S. government debt, and offshore banking has given six countries the combined capital needed to make the Caribbean Banking Centers our sixth-largest foreign creditor. The Treasury Department counts the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles, Panama and the British Virgin Islands in this designation, which as a group holds $155.6 billion in U.S. treasury securities. That’s equivalent to the GDP of landlocked Kentucky ($156.6 billion), whose residents may not actually mind if they were ever to become an extension of some Caribbean island paradise.

7. Hong Kong

Amount of U.S. debt: $138.2 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 3.2%

At No. 7 on the list of our foreign creditors is Hong Kong, a formerly British part of China that maintains a separate government and economic ties than the communist mainland. With $138.2 billion in U.S. treasury securities, the capitalist enclave could lay claim to Yellowstone Park and our nation’s capital: The combined GDP of Wyoming ($37.5 billion) and Washington D.C. ($99.1 billion) totaled $136.6 billion in 2009.

[…]

10. Russia

Amount of U.S. debt: $106.2 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 2.4%

Starting off the list of our major foreign creditors is Russia, which holds about 2.4% of the U.S. debt pie that sits on the international dinner table. Its $106.2 billion in treasury securities is equivalent to the 2009 GDP of our sparsely populated North: The combined output of North Dakota ($31.9 billion), South Dakota ($38.3 billion) and Montana ($36 billion) matches up nicely with the Russian holdings, at $106.2 billion.

Let’s hope Russian president Dmitry Medvedev doesn’t come to collect.

February 28, 2011

Dirty money: Britain, Libya and the arms trade

This is NOT OK

CAAT say:

The UK has sold tear gas, crowd control ammunition and fire arms to Bahrain and Libya in the last year. While UK weapons are used against civilians, a UK government departmentand David Cameron are promoting weapons sales in the Middle East. This is NOT OK.

Can you be more on top of the events than this, a mere several weeks after the revolution began in Libya:

Liam Fox, the defence secretary, has said Britain’s arms sales policy is under review following the Libyan regime’s violence against its own people.

Fox said that Muammar Gaddafi was “a liability” and that all pressure possible should be applied to ensure the Libyan leader goes, as David Cameron called on him to do on Sunday.

Carl Packman on William Hague:

First he made the government look foolish by repeating the unsubstantiable claim that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela.

Then amid all the media attention on Cameron’s trip to the Middle East with arms dealers, and the Mirror story that the wife of an ex-Middle East arms dealer, old chum of Jonathan Aitken, had donated £300,000 to the Tories, David Cameron has to get up and apologise for the delays to the Government’s efforts to rescue British nationals stranded in Libya.

James Forsyth for the Mail has today said the “Government has resembled little more than a budget airline”.

EUObserver write:

As dead bodies pile up on the streets of Tripoli and blocked phone lines hamper the EU evacuation effort, the latest EU figures show that EU countries just two years ago granted over €160 million of export licences to Libya for small arms and electronic jamming equipment.

The Union’s latest report on arms exports, out in January and covering 2009, says that EU countries granted €343.7 million worth of Libya licences two years before the massacre. Figures for actual shipments are incomplete.

With the UK’s Associated Press agency reporting on Tuesday (22 February) that the streets of Tripoli “are littered with the bodies of scores of protesters shot dead by security forces,” the EU report notes that Malta in 2009 granted licences and actually shipped €79.7 million of small arms to the regime. Belgium granted €18 million of licences and Bulgaria €3.7 million.

On electronic jamming, Germany led with €43.2 million of permits. The UK granted €20.7 million worth and Italy €1 million.

EU officials on Monday told this website that Libyan jamming of mobile phone, internet and GPS services is hampering attempts to get the 5,000 or so EU citizens still in Libya to safety. The EU’s ambassador in Tunis, who is also responsible for Libya, is trying to co-ordinate evacuations by calling EU embassies in Tripoli on landlines. But many of these are also down.

Amid widespread reports that the Libyan airforce is bombing and shooting opposition activists, Italy led the sale of what the arms industry calls “big ticket items.”

Italy granted €107.7 million of licences for military aircraft, including assault craft, and associated equipment. France granted €17.5 million worth and Portugal €14.5 million. Portugal also granted €4.6 million of permits for drones.

[…] Paul Holtom, an arms control expert with the Swedish NGO Sipri said that Russia is Libya’s main arms supplier. The EU gold rush began after the UN lifted its arms embargo in 2003, with senior British, French and Italian officials jetting in and out of Tripoli in delegations with arms and oil industry executives.

[…] Belgium in 2009 in response to NGO complaints overturned a licence for FN Herstal to supply €11.5 million of small arms – including 367 rifles, 367 handguns, 50 “luxury” pistols and 22,000 grenades – for Gaddafi’s elite army and police units.

The UK in 2008 blocked York Guns from shipping 130,000 Kalashnikovs to Libya because it feared they would be resold to warlords in Sudan.

The same year Romania gave the green light to sell Gaddafi 100,000 of the guns, however. And UK premier David Cameron on his current Middle East tour opted to bring Ian King, the CEO of top British arms firm BAe Systems, as part of his delegation, as well as executives from UK weapons firms Rolls Royce and Thales.

Here is Russia’s role in the trade:

Russia could lose almost $4.0 billion in arms export contracts to Libya after Moscow joined other world powers in slapping an arms embargo on Moamer Kadhafi’s regime, a report said on Sunday.

The Interfax news agency quoted a military source as saying that Russia had a swelling order book for contracts from Libya worth $2.0 billion while negotiations had been in progress for deals worth $1.8 billion more.

Here is some information about British arming of the un-democratic government of Bahrain:

Alistair Burt went on to detail some of the licenses granted in recent months.

“In the last nine months we have approved a range of licences for Bahrain. These include two single export licences for 250 tear gas cartridges to the Bahrain Defence Force and National Security Agency that were for trial/evaluation purposes.

“In addition there are a number of open individual export licences that have been approved. One of these includes equipment that can be used for riot control. The approval of these applications were judged to be consistent with the criteria at the time and followed precedents set by previous governments. As with all export licences for Bahrain, these are being urgently reviewed.”

Oddly enough, the defence industry says: “Anarchy in the Middle East benefits no-one”.

More from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade:

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