Libyan No-Fly Zone – what is it about?

Contributed by John Usher, CrosbyVictoria Ward & Bootle CLP Committee Member

I hope you will be interested in the following analysis of the Libyan situation.

From: John Tummon, veteran activist, Manchester.
Sent: 19 March 2011 13:10
Subject: Libyan No-Fly Zone – what is it about?

For Discussion

Three things stand out for me about Libya, from a historical and economic

One is that the major oilfields being worked are either in Cyrenaica, the eastern third of the country which includes Benghazi, or Fezzan, the mostly Tuareg area of the south west. Very few are in Tripolitania, which is basically just the western coastal strip.

The low cost of Libyan oil production (as low as $1 per barrel at some fields), and the fields’ proximity to European markets, compared to the Middle East, is also noteworthy.

The second is that there is a history of division between Tripolitanians and Cyrenaicans which has a religious basis in the Cyrenaican Sanussi religious-political organisation, dating from the mid-nineteenth century, which is similar to the Wahhabism of Sau’di Arabia.The military revolution of 1969 led by Gaddafi could best be described as revenge by Tripolitania against Cyrenaica (the latter was the historic homeland of the Sanussi,
which gave Libya a royal dynasty that ruled from 1951 to 1969.

The Sanussi unsuccessfully fought French expansion in the Sahara from 1902 to 1913, and the 1911 Italian invasion of Libya, which forced them to concentrate in the eastern desert.

The Sanussi alliance with Britain against Rommel in the second World War was based on an agreement that a “provisional Sanussi government” should be established afterwards.The Tripolitanians were not enthusiastic and were not a major military force.

A grandson of the Grand Sanusi became King Idris I of Libya in 1951. In 1969, the king was overthrown by a coup led by Gaddafi.

It is revealing that the flags flying over Benghazi and other cities where the rebels are victorious are not green but tricoleurs‹the country’s flag before the 1969 revolution and the emblem of the Idris clan.

In short, this is at least partly a religious-ethnic conflict.

It is entirely possible that heirs of Libya’s last king, Idris I, who is currently living in Washington, will return, if the west manages to divide the country into its oil-bearing and its Tripolitanian sections, which many of us suspect is the strategic thinking behind this No-Fly Zone.

The third thing is that Venezuela had led a consortium of South American countries into advanced mediation discussions with the Arab League, which probably caused concern among NATO powers that their primacy in their ‘Mediterranean backyard’ was at risk, and that this triggered the UN Resolution.

One thing is clear – it has nothing to do with either a moral or humanitarian crusade (Is it odd that the Israeli 2008/9 bombardment of Gaza didn’t merit a no-fly zone, or that Sau’di tanks are right now suppressing the Bahraini people’s rising, without any significant criticism, or that over 45 people died in Yemen yesterday, gunned down by the regime?).

I think it is fair to say that the Libyan No-Fly Zone is as much about oil as was the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Britain & France, in particular, have a long history of drawing straight borders to create make-believe countries based around oil reserves in the sands of North Africa and the Middle East and the chances are we are witnessing a further chapter in that sad, bloody imperialist story.

An Analysis by John Tummon



About Councillor, Sefton MBC

Councillor, Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, Victoria Ward, Ward Chair'
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