Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 18, 2016

The Islamic State Is Pretext To Again Mug Libya

There are currently two governments in Libya. A "moderately Islamist" one in the west in Tripoli and one in the east in Tobruk. The eastern one is internationally recognized and "secular" but also supported by some Salafist groups. Both governments have their own parliament and various supporting militia. In the middle of the long east-west coastline the Islamic State led by some cadres from Iraq and Syria has taken a foothold in Sirte. It is recruiting followers from north Africa and moving to capture nearby oilfields to finance its further expansion.

The "west" is alarmed about this development and wants to intervene with military force. Special forces from several countries are already on the ground. But both governments and their parliaments do not want such foreign intervention.

The UN or someone came up with the glorious idea of creating a third government which is supposed to supersede the two existing ones. The task of this third government will be to "invite" foreign forces and to rubber-stamp whatever they will do. That third government is now constituted in Tunisia and has zero power on the ground in Libya:

[T]here is no guarantee that the other factions will back down. So what is a war between two rival governments backed by militias risks becoming a war among three rival governments, none of which recognize the others ..

Naturally the Libyans hate that idea of a foreign imposed government. They will likely fight any third force that tries to usurp their sovereignty. Confronted with a foreign imposed government and foreign military forces more Libyans will join the Islamic State to fight the intruders. The shortsightedness of the UN and the "western" governments on this issue is breathtaking.

But there is still a lot of money to be made in Libya and especially the French and British governments want to keep robbing the country blind. This requires some feet on the ground. The "brain" and a likely main profiteer behind all this seems to be one well known figure.

A revealing piece in the Times of Malta describes some of the astonishing political-business connections behind the scenes:

[A] major military operation by a collection of foreign powers is in the works to tackle Isis and install a UN-backed government but the shabby way it has been put together carries the risk it will blow back in everyone’s faces.

First, there is the strange situation that [Britain’s Ambassador to Libya, Peter] Millett takes his orders from Britain’s Libya envoy, Jonathan Powell, a contractor to the FCO. Yes, the same Powell who, along with then prime minister Tony Blair, brokered the deal with Muammar Gaddafi to end his dictatorship’s isolation a decade ago - and lead to fat Blair consultancies with that same tyrant after the prime minister left office.

Among other beneficiaries of this new opening up of Gaddafi’s dictatorship was a massive property development contract handed out to a company chaired by none other than Powell’s brother, Lord Charles Powell, which also involved an array of colourful London-based, well-known Arab millionaires. Which makes Powell more of a close relative of an interested party.

Libya is awash with weapons and munitions of all kinds and these are bought and sold in open markets. With the right amount of money one can easily buy powerful anti-tank weapons or anti-air guns readily installed on the ubiquitous Toyota technicals. But Britain also wants to sell, not buy weapons:

Millett revealed that he wants to sell Libya yet more [weapons] - but only to the ‘right’ militias, that is, those supporting the new UN-backed government of national accord (GNA).

The GNA, designed to replace Libya’s two warring governments, in Tripoli and Tobruk, is the cornerstone of Western policy in Libya, designed to unite the country to turn its united guns on Isis. Hence the weapons.

Millett insists the weapons will only go to the ‘right’ militias, an echo of a Western statement about supporting the ‘right kind’ of terrorists in Syria in the war against Isis.

Here now comes the real business part with the most valuable piece being the Libyan Investment Authority with some $65 billion in assets. This fond is owned by the Libyan people but whoever controls it will be able to siphon off tons of money:

Much of the fallout for this clumsy step to create a third government for Libya will be felt in Malta, where commercial battles rage between the two existing Libyan governments over control of a host of enterprises headquartered here - and which are soon to have unity government leaders also pushing for control.

The Valletta court battle for the public telecommunications company LPTIC highlighted the complicated split and a new tussle is underway for control of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), the Tobruk-appointed office of which is situated in Malta.

For now, the LIA battle is in London but in a bizarre twist the case was last week controversially stopped in mid flow on advice from Britain’s Foreign Office.

The judge making the order, which keeps both existing governments from getting their hands on this $65 billion asset, is none other than William Blair, brother of - you guessed it, Tony.

Never mind that Tony worked with the LIA in the latter Gaddafi years.

Conflict of interest?

Well, you decide. But to me this looks like another coup in the making this time by introducing a third government that will be completely controlled by foreigners. All this not to "fight the Islamic State" but for Tony Blair and others to control and rob whatever assets the Libyans have left. (How, by the way, is the Clinton Foundation involved in this?)

I can not think of any positive outcome this hapless robbery attempt under the disguise of fighting the Islamic State will have for Libya and its people. Or for the people of those countries who's "elites" now again move to wage war on Libya.

Posted by b on March 18, 2016 at 17:34 UTC | Permalink


The Russians have made the Syrian adventure much less interesting for ISIS.
The fighters may find Libya a much better place to grow their caliphate away from Iran and Russia.
They know Europe is undecided and divided and will certainly not get involved in Libya as the Russians did in Syria.
The USA will not get involved in yet another war in Libya, considering Obama's bitter criticism of France and the UK in the Libyan debacle.
Even if the UN creates a 'third legitimate' government in Libya that will officially call for help in its fight against ISIS, I doubt many countries will rush to bomb again Libya.

In my view Libya is condemned to more years of instability that will threaten Tunisia and most of North african countries... France is the first one who will suffer as it is involved with North African much more than any other European country.
As Syria war will fade, a new war will bloom there...

Posted by: virgile | Mar 18 2016 18:12 utc | 1

Paging Col. Gaddafi...paging Col. Gaddhafi...
Too bad you aren't here to fix this classic AmeriKan fuck up...

Posted by: farflungstar | Mar 18 2016 18:53 utc | 2

and where does Ghadaffi's daughter fit into all this??

Posted by: Dr. George W. Oprisko | Mar 18 2016 19:14 utc | 3

In my opinion it is too bad there is no functioning government in Libya, a la Syria, so Libya could invite the Russians to help them out.

The bad news is simply that the US and its' lapdogs will make another bleeding mess as in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I am no fan of Putin ... but I am less a fan of the US approach as trouble maker par excellance.

Posted by: rg the lg | Mar 18 2016 19:19 utc | 4

thanks b for yet another insightful post..

divide and conquer hasn't ever stopped.. what i believe is hard for many to understand is the present day robber barons from our own culture who continue to work towards taking advantage of others in faraway places... whether they have to make war, sell war, or prepare for war under any phony guise - the present day one being to go after ISIS - they will think up a way to 'sell' it and we will all be the worse off for it too... when will this madness ever end?

Posted by: james | Mar 18 2016 19:55 utc | 5

Enter The Dragon ... and its two Steamrollers (Diplomacy & Brute Force).

The Chinese have been itching for a showdown since the day after al-CIA-duh's Air Force "liberated" Libya. If the Crusading Arseholes proceed with this Smash & Grab exercise, NATO will be a smoking ruin before the end of 2016.
Pass the popcorn, please!

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 18 2016 20:19 utc | 6

Maybe this should be in open thread. Interesting that the sanctions against Russia are all about oil. Stopping them from drilling off shore and financing the capital.

Posted by: shadyl | Mar 18 2016 20:43 utc | 7

Wow - just when you think our government (and the 'west' in general) couldn't get more corrupt, something like this comes along and blows your socks off.

It's not enough that Hillary Clinton took a functioning state that was a bulwark against terrorism and - mostly - provided a decent life for its citizenry, and then turned it into a post-apocalyptic wasteland more reminiscent of "Mad Max Fury Road" than anything else. No, we have to charge in with yet another idiotic/corrupt Rube-Goldberg scheme... Words fail.

On a related measure: this also shows one reason for the incredible hatred of the elites for Donald Trump. I'm not saying that Trump is the messiah. But he might - just might - damp down a lot of this sort of nonsense. That would cost the right people massive dollars! No wonder so many 'conservatives' are pushing for Hillary Clinton - they know that she at least will keep the game going, no matter the cost in human lives or the national interest...

Posted by: TG | Mar 18 2016 21:25 utc | 8

TG @8

"this also shows one reason for the incredible hatred of the elites for Donald Trump."

I'm not 100% sure that Trump is not a PTB Trojan Horse with an awesome comb over. But, last night listening to PBS on the car radio there was a extensive interview on the subject of Trump's history of filing chapter 8 bankruptcies. The gist of the interview conducted by Mara Liasson with some Ivy League Neostooge was that Trump has filed four bankruptcies. The slant of the first part of the story seemed to stress that Trump hurt a lot of people. Trump is quoted as saying he broke no US law. Anyhow, after listening to this interview I believe that Trump ended up stiffing lots of Bankers and Investors. So if he were President would he file for National Bankruptcy i.e. DEFAULT stiffing and jailing the bankers ala Iceland and possibly soon to be Ireland?

Just my opinion

Posted by: ALberto | Mar 18 2016 21:43 utc | 9

One other thing. Trump has never filed a personal bankruptcy.

Posted by: ALberto | Mar 18 2016 21:45 utc | 10

@8 tg.. thanks for ot turning the topic over to another as the stomach turns us election spin cycle.. we really needed that.. it is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.. me - all i see is bs..

Posted by: james | Mar 18 2016 23:25 utc | 11

As we've seen in Syria, there are too many conflicting US interests to be able to decide what's going to happen. Perhaps one party, supported by one US faction, is going to win, or perhaps another.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 18 2016 23:30 utc | 12

@9 He probably did all of that, but everything was 'legal', similar to how it's legal for corporate execs to run up large debts, stiff their workers, then pay themselves huge salaries.

But it's par for the course when you consider the amount of grift that local and state governments commit or are party to.

Posted by: aaaa | Mar 18 2016 23:58 utc | 13

Between unpredictable Trump and predictable Hillary which evil do you prefer?

Posted by: virgile | Mar 19 2016 2:00 utc | 14

65 billion in assets up for grabs. Now that's incentive. More mayhem for greed. Awesome.

Posted by: ben | Mar 19 2016 3:22 utc | 15

@14 My mother said she'll disown me if I vote for Trump, but I say that I want him to win just to see what happens. I'll probably leave the presidential ballot blank and see what happens !

I think Trump has a strong desire to do as his slogan says, but I think his caustic policy ideas about illegal aliens are ridiculous and harsh. Who knows - it might be a blessing for Mexico in the long run if the drug trade is stifled. If the suppliers can't meet American demand, the gangs will lose financing and will have to find real jobs instead.

I think the advantage still rests with Hillary though; she has strong support from African Americans and baby boomers

Posted by: aaaa | Mar 19 2016 5:28 utc | 16

@all - stop these stupid off-topic Trump discussions on very thread.

I'll ban future violators.

Posted by: b | Mar 19 2016 8:28 utc | 17

Translated into serbian / Преведено на српски:

Moon of Alabama: Исламска држава је само изговор за још једну пљачку Либије

Posted by: Aleksandar Jovanovic | Mar 19 2016 10:10 utc | 18

Hoarsewhisperer says:

The Chinese have been itching for a showdown since the day after al-CIA-duh's Air Force "liberated" Libya

considering that the Chinese abstained from the UN Security Council vote, rather than vetoing it, one could argue that they actually expedited the bombing of Libya.

which, of course, beggars the question, why?

i mean, the Chinese were perfectly aware of the depraved nature of western intervention. for fuck's sake, the Americans even bombed their embassy in Begrade, killing and wounding numerous Chinese nationals.

Posted by: john | Mar 19 2016 11:08 utc | 19

Belgrade, that is

Posted by: john | Mar 19 2016 11:25 utc | 20

ajazeera reports Istabbul bombing ...

"An explosion believed to have been caused by a suicide bomber has hit the popular Istiklal Street in central Istanbul's Taksim square area.

Government officials said at least five people were killed and 36 were injured - seven seriously - in Saturday morning's explosion.

The suspected suicide bomber is believed to be among those killed. Twelve foreign citizens were among the wounded, including an unknown number of Israelis."

source -

Posted by: ALberto | Mar 19 2016 12:28 utc | 21

considering that the Chinese abstained from the UN Security Council vote, rather than vetoing it, one could argue that they actually expedited the bombing of Libya.
which, of course, beggars the question, why?
i mean, the Chinese were perfectly aware of the depraved nature of western intervention. for fuck's sake, the Americans even bombed their embassy in Begrade, killing and wounding numerous Chinese nationals.
Posted by: john | Mar 19, 2016 7:08:51 AM | 19

They were busy making hay while the sun shines and weren't ready to back up any suggestions/threats to the Christians. Now they are ready and also know, beyond a shadow of doubt, they're on the same regime-change list as Iraq, Libya, Russia etc.

Imo, a few gentle hints of a non-gentle reaction to Western malfeasance should be enough to make the Christians think twice.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 19 2016 12:38 utc | 22

... and then turned it into a post-apocalyptic wasteland more reminiscent of "Mad Max Fury Road" than anything else.

Posted by: TG | Mar 18, 2016 5:25:30 PM | 8

There have been some decent cinematic attempts at foretelling our nuclear future gone wrong, George Miller's Mad Max 2 (1981) is perhaps the most visionary for our time. Desert Pirate Law on the wasted expanse...though, at the moment it's Foreign State Sponsored gang law of an OPEC flavour, not the full monty as yet. Need some more Weaponised NeoCons and a slip of the trigger finger before we quicken global desertification and usher in widespread gang law.

It was Syria's Libya. Just hoping the nation wide committees that were set up in Gaddhafis time have enough voice and cohesion within them to avoid some sad straight Sykes-Picot-like lines being drawn on the map. Looks a more likely scenario than Syria who were fortunate to hold on to Assad.

One can only hope the blueprint of minimal, effective involvement that Russia has delivered to the Arab lands is shaped to suit Libya - probly not though.

TG, the Open Threads serve a pretty good purpose.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Mar 19 2016 13:03 utc | 23

ALberto @21

These attacks were expected. One more in Antalya and this is the end of tourism in Turkey for a while. Anger will grow among the laid-off tourism workers as obviously the AKP is unable to ensure the security that was the spearhead of their re-election.

Posted by: virgile | Mar 19 2016 13:47 utc | 24

Russia is selling 48? military attack helicopters to Algeria.It's spreading.
The world in flames,ignited by Zionism.

Posted by: dahoit | Mar 19 2016 13:51 utc | 25

Dear Commentators, I was reading Roger Helmer MEP's blog and found this comment by Alan Wheatley

"Re “Sends a Gunboat”

Checking out HMS Enterprise I find it is a survey ship with a top speed of 15 Knots, which is hardly “intercept speed”. Perhaps the 2 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons, 2 × Miniguns and 4 × General purpose machine guns will come in handy, if they are allowed to use them. But if the ship is restricted to operating only in International Waters the people smugglers will be long gone.

The way to operate a surveillance operation over large areas of water is with aircraft. Enterprise does not have even a single helicopter! What is wanted is an aircraft carrier operating as a local base with a very large area of operations and a fast response capability.

But without the ability to dominate costal waters and the adjacent land the whole enterprise has all the makings of a busted flush before it begins."

Which says it all really, it is just going out there to flag wave, be sunk or end up like Valient or HMS Elizabeth !

Posted by: DKendrick | Mar 19 2016 14:59 utc | 26

Donald Trump 25 years ago ...

Posted by: ALberto | Mar 19 2016 15:26 utc | 27

b @ 17: Thank you.

Posted by: ben | Mar 19 2016 16:44 utc | 28

This article from TRNN may have some relevance with regards to Libya, since oil is always part of the equation. The 65 billion b referred to, is, I think, motive enough for the Empire to mettle in Libya.

Posted by: ben | Mar 19 2016 17:00 utc | 29

Another plane down, this time inside Russia. FlyDubai this time. The GCC aren't above killing their own to prove a point?

Posted by: guest77 | Mar 19 2016 17:08 utc | 30

Its all about the money.

It has been that way for centuries because of the way we allow ourselves to be socially controlled by those who own private finance.

And so in Libya it is all about taking that money from the public and "giving" (it will all be legal) it to those at the top.

Its all about the money from which derives power and control.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 19 2016 17:12 utc | 31

Here now comes the real business part with the most valuable piece being the Libyan Investment Authority with some $65 billion in assets. This fund is owned by the Libyan people but whoever controls it will be able to siphon off tons of money

No Doubt. Goldman Sach and its ilk will probably have a place at the table as financial advisors. After all, GS developed the model for ripping off the Libyan Investment Authority , as it did in 2006-09. All it took was dazzling financially illiterate LIA officials with GS’s financial genius, coupled with lavish parties with “heavy drinking and girls”. Throw in a few perks such as freebie trips to Morocco and London, a highly prized internship for an official’s relative and other corporate hospitality and viola - $1.2 billion of LIA money disappears in the murky world of financial derivatives. So its just a matter of rinse and repeat. After all, why bother with the expense of actually providing tangible goods when you can just make the money …vanish.

Goldman Sachs Lost 98% of Libya's $1.3B Sovereign Wealth Fund Investment

note: The French financial giant, Societe Generale is also being sued by the Libyan Investment Authority for $1.5 billion.

Posted by: pantaraxia | Mar 19 2016 18:22 utc | 32

@17 Yes B. Thank you.

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 19 2016 18:33 utc | 33

How do you join the class that makes money off of all this horror? Do I need to marry someone with a very long name?

Posted by: Cresty | Mar 19 2016 19:01 utc | 34

As if we don't have enough problems and aren't bad enough ourselves, we've got the two imperial once weres & wannabees, Britain and France, hanging off us wanting us to help them loot countries and the Saudis and Israelis wanting us to make them the kings of the Middle East.

Seriously, isolation sounds better and better. Please let's just stop crossing oceans.

Posted by: Joanne Leon | Mar 19 2016 19:06 utc | 35

Which is the chicken and which is the egg?

Is it

1. the Islamic State takes a foothold in Sirte.
2. the "west" wants to intervene in Libya with military force.


1. the "west" wants to intervene in Libya with military force.
2. the Islamic State takes a foothold in Sirte.

I think it's the second sequence. Just as the west used the Islamic State in its attempt to overthrow government in Syria now the west is using the Islamic State to overthrow government in Libya.

The Islamic State is a tool of the west. Magically turns the west's actions - death, devastation, and destruction - into reactions. Yeah, war's hell - but they started it.

The Islamic State is a tool of the west.

@35 jl

Yeah, this one looks like a sideshow for the USA. It's all about Europe. b's rundown from the Times of Malta shines the light on the garden variety blackguards and thieves acting in the 'best' British tradition.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 20 2016 2:12 utc | 36

@36 Jfl. Yup. The need for a perpetual enemy. Just change the name/look/flavor. The old saying sticks:
"May you live in Orwellian times"..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 20 2016 3:48 utc | 37

Russia turns to the Mediterranean

The announcement of the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria is in a context of increasing symbolic and diplomatic intervention of the Kremlin. In January, a ballistic missile submarine was spotted off the French coast. A "show of force" in the Mediterranean, according to Francois-Bernard Huyghe (IRIS).

On March 14, Sergey Lavrov (Сергей Лавров) did not fail to assure his Tunisian counterpart of Russian support, even as Tunisia, facing the rise of the Islamic movement Ennahda, is threatened by the Libyan chaos and the rise of jihadism in its African near abroad, as in the Ivory Coast (i.e. the terrorist attack in Grand Bassam).

In addition to stated reasons, the withdrawal from Syria was driven by the need for Russian presence elsewhere?

Posted by: jfl | Mar 20 2016 6:04 utc | 38

This is huge
Jared Cohen, isn't it the guy who surfaced in Libya and Egypt early 2011?

Posted by: Mina | Mar 20 2016 10:48 utc | 39

@39 mina

Jared Cohen is, of course, Google's 'Ideas' man. Straight through the revolving door from state.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 20 2016 12:40 utc | 40

So we can stop calling them color revolutions. Google (State Department)Revolutions! That is so crazy that they told Twitter to hold off on an update until after the "Green Revolution" in Iran in 2009! I mean we all knew they've been doing this, but to see it in black and white...

Posted by: L Bean | Mar 20 2016 16:25 utc | 41

Is an intervention being planned, or micro-intervention?

An outside interference has to satisfy some condition to be effective, a combination of the local force that is being supported and which can change the situation, given the assistance, and of the assisting force. For example, in Mali the French assisted rather crappy but not abysmal local military and non-jihadist against moderately effective local "Islamic State" and that help, presumably local forces can keep jihadists at bay. If I recall, the French send something like a battalion with air support.

In Libya, the beneficiary would be Tobruk government and military led by Haider. It is very hard to see how a hundred or so "special forces" can change the game. So far, manifestly they did not. It would be nice if there would be some law and order in Benghazi and the rest of the eastern Libya, for starters, and to develop some political plan. A war without a political plan cannot achieve anything, except for occasional spoils. Illuminating the Libyans about benefits of liberal economy (and liberal politics?) and collecting accolades from the impressed natives is not enough of a plan.

A plan has to start from some explanation of the current situation. For example, "ISIS territory" strangely coincides with the tribal territory of Ghaddafi's clan, so I am guessing that as this tribe was royally screwed by the "revolution" it gave an easy ear to jihadist malcontents. If they were the only malcontents, that could be fine, "just crush them", but that does not seem to be the case.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 20 2016 20:41 utc | 42

one of the kamikaze brothers of yesterday had "Bahamas citizenship"

Posted by: Mina | Mar 23 2016 9:38 utc | 43

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