Saturday, 24 January 2015

Libya and Tony Blair: Lethal Double Standards in the New Great Game.

“Dear Muammar...you have led a genuine transformation in relations between our two countries in recent years, from which both our peoples stand to benefit.”-Prime Minister Tony Blair 2007.

It has been a bad week for Britain's ex-PM Tony Blair, the globe trotting charity fund raiser and apostle of global educational enlightenment. First he got challenged, at the Davos economic conference, on the issue of how the US and British invasion had been a force for instability.

Then damaging new information revealed how Blair sent a message thanking Gaddafi's spies for coming to Britain and arresting and kidnapping two Islamist opponents of his regime. Documents with hundreds of pages detailing the “excellent cooperation” between the two have surfaced.

This came out just after it was reported-and insinuated by leading politicians-that it was Blair who using his influence to try and delay the Chilcot Inquiry report into the decision to invade Iraq on the pretext of his having Weapons of Mass Destruction. So too did Gaddafi have these in 2003.

It was precisely in that same year that Blair suddenly enlisted Gaddafi as friend in the War on Terror. Blair would probably characterise this as one of his diplomatic interventions as opposed to the military version of his repeated insistence that Britain must 'engage' with 'reform' in the  Arab World.

 Norton Taylor writes in the Guardian that Blair's embrace of Gaddafi was,
.....an astonishing turnaround in relations between Britain and the Libyan dictator....The door was opened to huge and lucrative British deals with Libya: Shell signed a large gas exploration contract; and BP signed a £15bn oil drilling contract with Libya which became known as “the deal in the desert”.
It is interesting to compare Blair's approach to Gaddafi with that of Saddam Hussein because it reveals the blatant and flagrant double standards that define his foreign policy. Gaddafi had WMDs but was to be colluded with in 2003 because he was prepared to strike an oil deal with Britain.

So the facts regarding Blair's dealings with Gaddafi reveal the lie that his foreign policy was about promoting democracy and removing brutal dictators. Britain was willing, through MI5 and MI6 to collude with Gaddafi in the 'extraordinary rendition' and torture of opponents to his regime.

By contrast, Saddam Hussein was of no use and stood in the way of both the US and Britain diversifying their oil supplies away from depending too much on a Saudi regime which was giving increasing sign of potential instability. It is forgotten that in the run up to the invasion of Iraq petrol prices were high.

The growth of the surveillance state is accepted by Britain's political elites. It is the price to be paid for this lethal great game for securing access to resources and the probability of their being terrorist blowback as a consequence of these foreign policies, whether collusion with secular dictators or else military intervention.

Blair's deals with Gaddafi and Cameron's and Sarkozy's decisive military intervention in Libya in 2011 are not two wholly different foreign policies. What both had in common was a determination to advance oil interests and what is know referred to by NATO as a prime goal-energy security.

It is this singular underlying agenda that has driven British foreign policy ( even more so than the US since the tapping of vast domestic shale oil reserves ).. It is not merely a question of corporate greed or BP's interests in Libya's sweet crude oil. Energy security is regarded as inextricably bound to national security.

This is shown by the fact that 'intelligence chief Moussa Koussa (who became a close colleague of Sir Mark Allen, the head of counter terrorism at MI6, was later appointed a BP director. There is a whole series of interlocking networks within Britain dedicated to ruthless geopolitical pursuit of energy goals.

This is shown by the fact the Islamist leaders Belhaj and Saadi were abducted and tortured with the alleged collusion of the British security services only then subsequently to be effectively redeployed as jihadist 'assets' in overthrowing Gaddafi when Britain wanted to take control of the Libyan Revolution.

There is a longer continuity in recent history from the 1980s and the dying days of the Cold War in covertly supporting jihadists as a way to undermine secular dictatorships and regimes that stand in the way of geopolitical strategies and in opening up oil reserves to western influence.

During the Cold War dirty tricks could, at least, be partly justified as a morally ambiguous necessity in combatting the rival power strategies of the USSR. Unfortunately, this habit of thinking has been carried over into a cynical and deadly great game with regional powers over energy routes and oil access.

The one consistent factor in creating terrorist blowback is having a foreign policy that shores up dictators only to want them overthrown when they outlive their use and then having to deal with a protracted jihadist threat that has grown up in the absence of any non-violent outlet for political opposition.

Where the West has backed 'democratic forces', the tendency is to effectively align with jihadists and corrupt politicians backed by regional powers that have rival and opposed interests. That is clear in Libya where Qatar has backed Islamists and Saudi Arabia and Egypt are backing former Gaddafi supporters.

Blair's repellent prating about the need for spreading education and enlightenment to the Middle East is simply a distraction from the real and substantive reasons for the jihadist threat, that is, the shoddy geopolitical strategies used to secure the abundant oil supplies to the West is over-addicted.

Blair's lethal double standards stand out far more than his political successors. However, much on the vilification of Blair by those such as Cameron is itself deeply hypocritical given the fact the self styled 'heir to Blair' was himself agitating for 'regime change' In Libya and Syria after 2011.

Whether the invasion of Iraq in 2003 or the near war with Syria decade later in 2013, the underlying agenda is very much on oil, gas and geopolitics. If Saudi Arabia is ranged against its enemies the Middle East and  backs jihadism, it's considered a 'concern' as opposed to a key cause of 'extremism'.

Most foreign policies towards the Maghreb and the Middle East are going to be a complete mess if Saudi Arabia is not reined in and the West reduces its dependence upon Saudi oil. Even when this has occurred , as with the US, the geopolitical strategy involves arming and backing it against Iran.

No comments:

Post a Comment