Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Importance of Fezzan in Libya.

The Fezzan is Libya's poorest province and it is possible Gaddafi will make his last stand there because, as with Iraq which is also divided into three regions, it is the site of Sebha, the ancestral home of the Gaddafi tribe and 'Mad Dog' will most likely try to play on the fact they will have everything to lose with the NTC.

As historian Mark Almond has written,

....the most likely option is for him to follow Saddam Hussein and try to go to ground in his own country.

Saddam was able to evade the Americans for nine months in 2003, and Libya is a much bigger country than Iraq. Gaddafi’s loyalists still control his home region around Sirte, 300 miles east of Tripoli, but also vast tracts of desert in the south where Gaddafi reportedly has bunkers filled with weapons and supplies.

Should the NTC break up into factionalism and squabbles over who gains control over the huge oil revenues in Libya, then Gaddafi's last ditch plot to gain revenge will be to plan acts of terrorism and insurgency from this area with his mercanaries who come from sub Saharan Africa.

Gaddafi had long been building up a power base in Fezzan to act as a counterweight to the other two northern provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenacia which were etnically and tribally distinct under the Ottoman Empire before it collapsed.

Ghadames is also the area with a colossal new oil field discovered by the Sirte Oil Company ( with Sirte being Gaddafi's home town and the company staffed by Gaddafi's men ) back in 2007-2008. BP was due to gain drilling rights in tandem with Libya's National Oil Company ( NOC ).

Gaddafi derives support in Sirte and Ghadames as it is clear that Britain and the US will demand the BP-NOC contract is honoured by the NTC , one which was facilitated by by Al Magrahi's release lobbied for by BP, as part of the reward for having deposed Gaddafi.

If Gaddafi is capable of hanging on for nine months in Fezzan as Saddam did in sunni parts of Iraq where he had a power base in Tikrit, then he could exploit the breakdown of unity in the NTC as tribal and ethnic divisions set Libyans against one another sufficient for Gaddafi or his clan to exploit them.

The aim of Gaddafi now has to be to hope for chaos in Libya and the entrance of NATO troops on the ground in Libya so that he can exploit his recurrent theme of western imperialists taking Libya's oil wealth from them. As in Iraq, the scale of angry young men without jobs will lead to anger at any sell out to the West.

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