Showing posts with label NORTH AFRICA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NORTH AFRICA. Show all posts

Saturday, June 30


Glencore is keeping the marketing rights for the Sarir and Messla crude grades for a third year even though BP and Shell are returning to lift Libyan oil in a sign the country’s industry is perceived as becoming more reliable. One source familiar with the matter said Libya’s state oil firm National Oil Corporation (NOC) had allocated its 2018 crude and that the contracts would be signed next week. 

With production having steadied at around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) since the middle of last year, Libya, beset by factional fighting, has become a less unstable supplier. However, supply risks remain. One pipeline bringing Es Sider crude to export was recently bombed but swiftly repaired. BP and Shell declined to comment. Spokesmen for Glencore and the NOC did not immediately respond to requests for comment (Last August, Shell directly lifted its first cargo of Libyan crude in five years).

Since the end of 2015, Glencore has been the sole marketer of the Sarir and Messla grades, which are produced in the east of the country and exported via the Hariga port. Glencore was one of the few traders willing to deal with the risks associated with Libya’s unrest, Islamic State intrusions and a crippling port blockade that slashed the country’s output.

Earlier this month, the NOC said it was seeking a prompt restart of the country’s largest refinery at Ras Lanuf, following a resolution to arbitration cases with its operator, Lerco. The refinery, closed since 2013, runs on the grades allocated to Glencore. It was not immediately clear when the refinery would resume operations or what would happen to Glencore’s allocation once it does. 

NOC subsidiary Arabian Gulf Oil Co produces the Sarir and Messla grades. Output has been fluctuating between around 150,000 and 230,000 bpd, its chairman said in early January, below its potential 320,000 bpd owing to power problems.

Other contract winners include Vitol, Total, Unipec, OMV, BB Energy, ENI, API, Cepsa, Socar and Repsol, trading and shipping sources said, largely unchanged from 2017 to June, 2018.

-Shell and BP have agreed annual deals to buy Libyan crude oil. Sources told the news agency that Shell’s deal is the first of its kind since 2013, and that the first cargo of 600,000 barrels will start to be loaded from Zueitina port.

-The head the eastern-based National Oil Corporation EAST (NOC) has claimed that his office has signed 29 contracts independently of the Tripoli-based organisation.

Naji al-Maghrabi told Reuters that recent contracts included deals with major states such as Russia and China. Russia is reported to be planning to arm eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar

-The Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, Abdus Salam al Badri, told a conference last week in Malta that his government will punish international oil companies (IOCs) that continue to work with the rival administration in Tripoli.

-In parallel, the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of Libya, BP, which didn’t have a term deal in 2017, has reportedly also reached an agreement for this year.

-The Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) held a series of meetings with a group of global refineries in the Mediterranean area and with a major oil companies last week in London. The first meeting was with BP, followed by meetings with more than 20 partners, customers, Libyan crude refiners and fuel suppliers. BP, which didn’t have a term deal in 2017, has reportedly also reached an agreement for this year.

-The newly-created National Oil Corporation (NOC) loyal to the internationally recognised government in the east of Libya has reportedly invited international oil companies (IOCs) to “discuss legally signed agreements and contracts” at a conference in Dubai next month.

-The Tobruk government set up the rival company – ‘NOC East’ – in Benghazi, but oil buyers are still dealing only with the established NOC in Tripoli. According to Reuters, oil customers have refused to sign any deal with the eastern entity due to legal concerns as geological data to prove ownership of oil reserves are stored at NOC Tripoli. The invitation to a conference on 2nd September was issued by Naji al-Maghrabi, who was recently appointed chairman of the eastern NOC.

-The head the eastern-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) has claimed that his office has signed 29 contracts independently of the Tripoli-based organisation.  Naji al-Maghrabi told Reuters that recent contracts included deals with major states such as Russia and China. Russia is reported to be planning to arm eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar, commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA), who opposes the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

-The Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, Abdussalam Elbadri, told a conference last week in Malta that his government will punish international oil companies (IOCs) that continue to work with the rival administration in Tripoli.

-In parallel, the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of Libya, Nagi al-Magrabi, told Bloomberg: “We will send letters to all the international companies that operate in Libya asking them to deal with the internationally recognized and legal government. “We will take measures based on their respective replies to the letter. If they continue to decline to cooperate with the legal government, we will stop their loadings once their contracts expire.” Mahdi Khalifa, an NOC board member, said that any oil companies that refuse to cooperate with the government face the risk of legal action.

-Libya’s internationally recognised government has warned companies against dealing with the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC). Speaking to a press conference of Beida, the head of the House of Representatives (HoR), Abdullah al-Thinni (pictured), said his government is taking further steps to export crude oil from the regions under its control through its locally recognized “NOC”, and away from the Tripoli-based organisation.

-The chairman of the pro-HoR “NOC”, Mabruk Abu Yousef Maraja, warned of the illegality or illegitimacy of dealing with the NOC in Tripoli. He also warned Tripoli not to enter into any contracts or legal actions that would impose any obligations on the Libyan oil sector.

-National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman Nuri Berruien [Nuri Balrwin] (pictured), has confirmed that there are to be no new exploration-production sharing agreements (EPSAs) before mid-2014. Answering questions at the end of a conference in London, he added that this would probably be “during a constitutional government”, implying that the current “interim” government is not deemed constitutional enough or does not have the authority or legitimacy to launch an EPSA bidding round, according to Libya Herald. He added that he hoped for a “win-win” situation for both the NOC and the international oil companies, admitting that the current EPSAs had problems for both parties and hoped that the new EPSAs would “encourage long-term development”.

Glencore oil deal in Libya branded worthless by rival government. Internationally recognised regime in Benghazi says commodity firm’s potentially lucrative oil-export deal in Tripoli is with the wrong people. 

Glencore’s deal to export Libyan oil is not worth the paper it is printed on, the commodities company has been told. The Switzerland-based firm agreed last week to buy up to half of Libya’s oil exports from the western division of the National Oil Company in Tripoli, where an Islamist-backed government is based. But the internationally recognised government in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, said Glencore had signed a deal with the wrong people

Nagi Elmagrabi, chairman of the eastern division of the National Oil Company, told Bloomberg that he had written to Glencore asking for an explanation but not yet received a reply. He said that if Glencore had signed a deal with the parallel regime in Tripoli, the Benghazi government could physically prevent Glencore tankers from using Libyan ports. 

The deal in question envisages Glencore loading and finding buyers for crude oil from the Sarir and Messla fields, exported via Tobruk’s Marsa el-Hariga port in the east. The eastern government says it does not recognise any agreement signed with Tripoli.

Finding a way to resolve the impasse could prove particularly lucrative for Glencore, given that Libya’s oil exports have huge potential to increase. Libya was pumping about 1.6m barrels of oil a day before the civil war that ended Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in 2011. 

Production has since slumped to as low as 400,000 barrels a day, although it could be increased if the security situation in Libya improves. Glencore regularly invests in countries where security risks and political turmoil have deterred other investors, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia

However, the company is in need of new sources of income, after the economic slowdown in China prompted a slump in global commodity prices, ravaging its share price. The company floated its shares at £5.30 in 2011 but they have since plunged, closing on Monday at 90.42p. 

The firm announced proposals earlier this year to raise £6.6bn in an effort to allay investors’ fears about its £20bn debt pile. The plan includes mine closures, asset sales and a £1.6bn share-placing but has yet to arrest the decline in Glencore’s stock. Glencore declined to comment on its dealings in Libya

Sunday, April 15


Edward M. Spiers, professor of strategic studies at Leeds University, in England, explores both the myths and realities of chemical and biological warfare. Organized more or less
chronologically, Spiers recounts the evolution of chemical and biological weapons from the first mass uses of chemical weapons in World War I to the potential of modern biology to transform bioterrorism.

Spiers writes that chemical and biological weapons have probably been around as long as warfare itself. Ancient European, Indian, and Chinese history is replete with the use of poisonous snakes, insects, diseased animals, incendiaries, poison-tipped weapons, and poisoned water supplies in warfare. The first large-scale use of chemical weapons occurred in World War I, when the Germans discharged chlorine gas from cylinders at Ypres, Belgium, in 1915. 

Reported casualties from the gas ranged from 7,000 to 15,000 people, but after the initial surprise, the Allies were able to improvise protective measures. Within five months, the British were able to retaliate at the Battle of Loos, but they suffered 2,000 casualties to their own gas.

The failures of gas to break the enemy’s lines at Ypres, Loos, and other battles contributed to the legacy of gas warfare in World War I as a failure. However, Spiers argues, this legacy was largely shaped by postwar historians, because few participants shared that view. The use of gas actually increased over the course of the war. In addition to consequent casualties, gas negatively affected morale and considerably contributed to psychological and physical stress. Antigas defenses also made warfare more cumbersome, exacerbating logistical and communication challenges.

As evidence of the effectiveness of chemical weapons, real or imagined, Spiers writes that the Allies prohibited Germany from manufacturing and importing asphyxiating or poisonous
gases as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the war. Furthermore, in 1925, 44 nations signed the Geneva Protocol, which prohibited the use of chemical and biological weapons by international law and the “conscience and practice of nations.” Nonetheless, during the period between World Wars I and II, Britain considered but, for largely moral and political reasons, did not use chemical weapons in Egypt, Afghanistan, India, and Iraq.

Winston Churchill himself was “strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes,” Spiers writes. The eventual use of gas bombs by the Italians in Ethiopia in 1935–36, however, in direct contravention of the Ge ne va Protocol, reawakened Europe to the possibility of gas warfare. In Britain, more than 50 million “antigas” helmets had been distributed by the beginning of World War II. 


A Kurdish woman carries photos of relatives killed in chemical weapons attacks ordered
Questions of efficacy aside, Spiers writes that a combination of other factors averted the use
of chemical weapons during the Second World War. Because of the industrial and economic
hardships engendered as a result of the First World War, German, French, and British
chemical production capacity was limited. Hitler personally disdained chemical weapons,
which had injured him during World War I

Moreover, early in World War II, Germany did not need to resort to chemical weapons, and the Allies could not risk using them near friendlycivilian populations. Eventually, Germany did test its V1 and V2 rockets with chemical warheads, although the nation was deterred from using them by fear of reprisal against its civilian population. 

By the end of the war, U.S. military-industrial might had produced the world’s largest stock of chemical weapons and the air power to deliver them. However, the development of the atomic bomb, and success on other fronts, made their use unnecessary.

Biological weapons were not used to a significant extent in either the First or Second World
Wars. Nonetheless, as Spiers describes, there were still chilling reminders of the potential
power of even crude biological weapons. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, six Japanese soldiers released hordes of plague-infested rats and 60 horses infected with glanders into the Chinese countryside, leaving Changchun and surrounding environs uninhabitable until the mid-1950s.

Nuclear weapons, of course, came to dominate deterrence strategies during the Cold War.
Nonetheless, the proliferation of a new class of chemical weapons, nerve agents such as
sarin [2-(fluoro-methylphosphoryl)oxypropane], touched off a new chemical arms race, Spiers writes. From 1954 to 1969, the U.S. also manufactured and stockpiled numerous antiplant and antipersonnel biological weapons.

In Vietnam, the U.S. faced criticism, both at home and abroad, for its use of riot-control agents (to clear tunnels, for example), defoliants, and chemical weapons to kill crops and render soils infertile. In 1967 alone, the U.S. defoliated 1.5 million acres of vegetation and destroyed 220,000 acres of crops in Vietnam. In 1969, the Nixon Administration announced the end of the U.S. biological weapons program, in part, Spiers argues, to blunt criticism for its use of herbicides and riot control agents in Vietnam.

In the meantime, Spiers writes, the Soviets were developing the world’s most advanced chemical and biological weapons program.

During the Cold War, Iran and Iraq also waged a devastating war (1980–88) that again witnessed the mass by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Credit: Newscom use of chemical weapons. The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) later confirmed that the Iraqis had used some 1,800 tons of mustard agent, 140 tons of tabun (ethyl Ndimethyl phosphoramido cyanidate), and 600 tons of sarin. 

Iraq estimated these attacks resulted in more than 30,000 Iranian casualties (compared with the 500,000 to 1 million estimated total Iranian casualties). As Spiers notes, although the number of casualties from chemical weapons may have been small on a relative basis, the psychological impact was significant. Iraq’s ballistic missiles, and the fear of their potential to deliver chemical warheads to Iranian cities, played a role in Iran’s accepting the United Nations-brokered truce in 1988. Iraqi chemical weapons also helped to suppress the internal Kurdish rebellion, killing and injuring thousands of Kurds and leading to the flight of 65,000 others to Turkey in 1988, Spiers writes.

By the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq had significantly restocked and improved its chemical weapons capabilities. U.S. Central Commander Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf originally planned for 10,000 to 20,000 chemical weapons casualties, but Iraq never resorted to chemical weapons. The George H. W. Bush Administration had already decided not to respond with nuclear or chemical weapons if coalition forces were attacked with chemical weapons, but they deliberately conveyed the opposite impression.

Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Tariq Aziz later commented that the Iraqis understood that the use of chemical weapons might very well provoke the use of nuclear weapons against Baghdad by the U.S. Although Iraq’s SCUD missile attacks against Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain inflicted minimal physical damage, the specter of chemical warheads inflicted great psychological damage. Spiers quotes Schwarzkopf: “The biggest concern was a chemical warhead threat. … Each time they launched … the question was, is this going to be a chemical missile. That was what you were concerned about.” 

Their unique ability to engender such fears, of course, is precisely what makes chemical and biological weapons appealing to terrorists. As Spiers astutely notes, “terrorists can choose when, where, and how to attack their targets, they can avoid many of the uncertainties that have bedeviled the military use of chemical and biological weapons. By maximizing the element of surprise, they can attack targets with low or non-existent levels of protection; by careful choice of target environment, especially an enclosed facility, they need not wait upon optimum meteorological conditions; by attacking highly vulnerable areas, they may use a less than optimal mode of delivery; and by making a chemical or biological assault, they may expect to capture media attention and cause widespread panic.”

Although chemical weapons have been used much more frequently, Spiers notes that on a per-mass basis, biological weapons are more lethal than chemical weapons. As advances in production technologies can simultaneously result in increased yields in smaller, harder-todetect facilities, the potential utility of biological weapons to terrorists will become even more significant. 

In the most well-known example of biological terrorism to date, in October 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, anthrax-tainted letters began appearing in the U.S. Despite fears of another international attack, the strain was identified as having come from a domestic source, the Army research facility at Fort Detrick, Md. Letters were received in Florida, New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., including a Senate office building. As Spiers described it, “massive panic and chaos” erupted, and Congress and the Supreme Court were closed for several days, although only 22 cases of anthrax actually resulted, including just five fatalities.

One of the most sobering developments outlined in the book is the application and
proliferation of emergent molecular biology techniques to the production of biological
weapons. Through the use of genetic engineering, new or modified organisms of greater
virulence, antibiotic resistance, and environmental stability may be produced. 

In one notable example foreshadowing the utility of biotechnology to weapons production, the Soviets developed the host bacterium Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, which through genetic engineering could also produce the myelin toxin. Infected animals developed both the tuberculosis-like symptoms caused by the bacteria and the paralysis induced by the myelin toxin. One former Soviet scientist recalled that after a briefing on the results, “the room was absolutely silent. We all recognized the implications of what the scientists had achieved. A new class of weapon had been found.”

Additional topics in this comprehensive book include the various international attempts at chemical and biological weapons disarmament, deterrence, and nonproliferation, including the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention; the sarin attacks on the Japanese subways in the mid-1990s; the use of chemical warfare in developing-world conflicts; and the embarrassing failures of American and British intelligence regarding Iraqi chemical weapons that led to the second Gulf War. 

For those of us interested in the potential impacts of chemistry and biology on humankind, Spiers’s book is a thoroughly documented, no-nonsense (often to the point of being dry) review of the malevolent potential of our science.

Read also here
and here

Monday, April 4


Qualche mese fa si è presentato alla Corte di Appello di Roma il delegato di uno studio legale a nome di un cliente che proprio non riusciva a venire di persona: l’avvocato generale dello Stato libico, almeno a credere alla versione del suo rappresentante. In quell’incontro, e altri successivi, il legale italiano non è mai riuscito a dimostrare veramente che dietro di sé c’era un’istituzione sovrana libica, ammesso che qualcosa del genere oggi esista davvero. 

Ma chi lo ha incaricato conosceva bene il Paese, perché aveva richieste precise. Voleva entrare in possesso di una villa di Roma e di un conto bancario appartenuti a Muammar Gheddafi, perché ora sarebbero proprietà della Libia. Quei beni non sono particolarmente preziosi, almeno rispetto al resto. Il conto di Gheddafi in una banca romana vale circa un milione e 290 mila euro, ma ne ha discusso comunque il Comitato di Sicurezza Finanziaria: la Farnesina, il ministero dell’Economia, la Banca d’Italia, la Guardia di Finanza, i Carabinieri, l’Agenzia delle Dogane. 

La decisione alla fine è stata negativa: resta tutto sotto sequestro dei tribunali italiani, su mandato della Corte Penale Internazionale dell’Aja. Quell’episodio non ha lasciato traccia. Tutti però sono consapevoli che anch’esso è la spia di una realtà più vasta e complessa, attorno alla quale si combatte una parte fondamentale della battaglia per la Libia. Si tratta di una partita sotterranea, visibile solo a pochi, ma capace di produrre ripercussioni ogni giorno sulla sponda Sud del Mediterraneo. 

È inevitabile che sia così, perché la villa e il conto di Gheddafi a Roma sono una goccia nell’oceano del patrimonio della Libia. Quelle risorse sono l’oggetto di una sorda battaglia fra chi vorrebbe usarle per alimentare la guerra civile e chi cerca di proteggerle per la futura ricostruzione del Paese, aiutato dai cinque Paesi più coinvolti: Italia, Francia, Gran Bretagna, Spagna e Stati Uniti. 

Le partecipazioni del fondo sovrano Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) oggi valgono almeno 150 miliardi di dollari, anche se da anni manca una contabilità ufficiale. La lista dei titoli nel portafoglio della Lia fu resa nota nel 2011 dal miliardario franco-tunisino Tarak Ben Ammar, quando durante la rivoluzione emerse che una sua società maltese era in affari con la Lia di Gheddafi e con Trefinance, una controllata lussemburghese della Fininvest. 

E quell’elenco è lunghissimo, perché il regime di Gheddafi è crollato prima di riuscire a smobilizzare le sue partecipazioni e da allora nessuno sembra averne il controllo: quel portafoglio fu prima congelato su mandato internazionale, poi scongelato nel 2012 e da allora nessuno sembra davvero disporne. Il fondo sovrano libico ha il 3,2% di Pearson, il gruppo proprietario del Financial Times e co-proprietario dell’ Economist, ha quote in società americane della Difesa come Halliburton o del petrolio come Chevron e Exxon Mobil. 

In Francia è presente in un altro gruppo della difesa-aerospazio come Lagardère. E in Italia ha quote in alcuni dei gruppi maggiori. Dell’Eni la Lia ha probabilmente ancora l’1%; di Unicredit la banca centrale libica ha il 2,92 ed è il quinto socio; di Finmeccanica, il gruppo della difesa controllato dal Tesoro di Roma, la Lia ha il 2,01%. 

Ci sono poi ovviamente società minori come il gruppo milanese di tecnologie delle telecomunicazioni Retelit, del quale la Società libica di Poste e Telecomunicazioni ha il 14,8% ed è il primo azionista. Della Juventus invece la quota libica è ormai diluita sotto al 2%. 

Poi c’è la Banca centrale libica, molto più ricca e liquida del fondo sovrano: dispone di conti per circa 100 miliardi di dollari, frutto di decenni di surplus petroliferi, e quel tesoro giace in decine di depositi bancari Italia, in Europa e negli Stati Uniti. Secondo osservatori vicini a questo dossier, la banca centrale di Tripoli ha conti aperti a Unicredit, Intesa Sanpaolo, Bnp Paribas, Société Générale, Credit Agricole, e poi a Londra alla Hsbc, a Barclays e al Lloyd; a Wall Street, resta un conto alla Bank of New York Mellon. 

Su tutte queste risorse la tensione è massima. Molte restano dormienti, al punto che a volte le imprese coinvolte non sanno a chi pagare i dividendi. Sparsi per tutto il Medio Oriente, un gruppo di economisti e uomini di affari libici compone il “consiglio” della banca centrale di Tripoli e amministra le riserve. Secondo negoziatori occidentali esse sono in gran parte congelate. Secondo fonti libiche la banca centrale ne usa però i proventi per permettere al Paese di importare cibo e medicine. Non ci sono prove che quei fondi vengano usati anche per l’acquisto di armi. Ma se per ipotesi a prendere controllo della Libia alla fine fossero davvero le forze della jihad, arriverà il momento in cui anch’esse reclameranno i propri averi alle banche di Wall Street, della City, di Parigi, o di Milano. Federico Fubini per “la Repubblica”. Francesco Battistini per il Corriere della Sera. 

Esplora il significato del termine: Che puzza di marcio. Il palazzo fascista della Banca nazionale libica, dietro il balcone da cui s’affacciò Mussolini, è chiuso da giorni. Si specchia nel grande stagno a forma di Libia che fece scavare Gheddafi, una melma nera piena di rifiuti e buona solo per trovarci i vermi da pesca. Le anatre sguazzano, i guardiani della Banca preparano esche: da Malta, la direzione generale ha chiuso i rubinetti e da tre settimane la grande cassaforte di Tripoli che tutti finanziava è un verminaio, a secco come lo stagno. 

Non arrivano più gli stipendi per le milizie, né gli assegni per le famiglie dei martiri, né il welfare di cibo e medicine che almeno faceva circolare un po’ d’economia. I prezzi sono impazziti, l’inflazione galoppa. Per questo il nuovo premier sbarcato dal gommone, Fayez Al Serraj, l’altro giorno ha voluto ricevere subito il governatore centrale atterrato dalla Valletta, Saddek Elkaber. Precedenza assoluta su politici e Militari. 

Perché di governatori della Banca ce n’è tre come le Libie, uno per Tripoli, uno per Tobruk, uno per il Sud, e invece non può esserci unità nazionale senza un’unica Banca centrale: «La priorità è la stabilità economica, ha detto Serraj, altrimenti non si va da nessuna parte». I soldi, prima dei soldati. Il mandato ONU è chiaro: nonostante il caos, la Libia è una delle più ricche economie africane e certe adesioni ai nuovi padroni di Tripoli sono irrinunciabili. 

Dopo la Banca nazionale, venerdì è toccato alla PFG (Petroleum Facilities Guard) che controlla l’oro nero all’Est: «Appoggiamo Serraj — hanno detto le guardie dei pozzi — e sblocchiamo i terminal». Ieri, l’OK più atteso: la potente NOC (National Oil Corporation) ha promesso sostegno e il suo presidente, Mustafa Sanalla, ha plaudito alla risoluzione ONU 2278 che vieta «strutture parallele nell’esportazione del petrolio libico». 

Era la minaccia più urgente, peraltro non ancora sventata: la nascita in Cirenaica d’una «NOC-Bengasi», una compagnia del greggio uguale e contraria a quella tripolina, che di fatto ucciderebbe in culla il neonato governo d’unità. «La credibilità di Serraj -spiega Mohammad Al Maghrabi, 70 anni, ex consigliere della Banca Centrale- non si giocherà sulla richiesta d’interventi militari. 

Combattere l’IS va bene a tutti: molto più difficile, far ripartire un Paese che non sa nemmeno quanto sia ricco». La storica LIA (Libyan Investment Authority) gestisce fin dai tempi di Gheddafi un patrimonio che nessuno sa quantificare: 70 miliardi di dollari fra Europa Unita (?), USA e Africa, forse di più, molti ancora congelati. 

I surplus petroliferi sono sparsi in nove grandi banche, gl’investimenti libici sono nei colossi di tutto il mondo, da Siemens ad Allianz, da Orange a Vivendi, da Bayer a Deutsche Telekom, passando per Exxon Mobil, Basf, Chevron, Halliburton, il Financial Times, resort turistici, interi quartieri nelle grandi capitali, intere regioni agricole in Egitto… Solo in Italia, basta ricordare le quote in Unicredit, Eni, Finmeccanica, Enel, Fca, Juventus. 

«Proteggere la Libia è proteggere la sua cassaforte», dice l’economista Al-Maghrabi, ma il problema è che se nessuno sa chi ne controllerà il petrolio, meno ancora può dire del fondo sovrano.I conti sono messi quasi peggio della sicurezza. La storica Lia gestisce fin dai tempi di Gheddafi un patrimonio che nessuno sa quantificare: 70 miliardi di dollari fra Europa, USA e Africa, forse di più, molti ancora congelati. 

I surplus petroliferi sono sparsi in nove grandi banche, gl’investimenti libici sono nei colossi di tutto il mondo, da Siemens ad Allianz, da Orange a Vivendi, da Bayer a Deutsche Telekom, passando per Exxon Mobil, Basf, Chevron, Halliburton, il Financial Times, resort turistici, interi quartieri nelle grandi capitali, intere regioni agricole in Egitto… Solo in Italia, basta ricordare le quote in Unicredit, ENI, Finmeccanica, Enel, FCA (Fiat), A.S. Juventus. 

«Proteggere la Libia è proteggere la sua cassaforte», dice l’economista Al -Maghrabi, ma il problema è che se nessuno sa chi ne controllerà il petrolio, meno ancora può dire del fondo sovrano. Il solito caos: i grandi gruppi si chiedono a chi pagare i dividendi perché non è chiaro chi comandi, buona parte di Tobruk rivendica il controllo LIA, l’Alta Corte inglese qualche giorno fa ha sospeso il giudizio aspettando di capire chi la spunti a Tripoli e l’orgoglio finora rifiutava che NOC -mentre si prevede di tornare a produrre 800mila barili al giorno, contro i 350mila attuali (sotto Gheddafi s’arrivava a un miliardo e 740mila barili) - finisse a un governo «venuto da fuori». 

Truffe e corruzione, ognuno ha da raccontare qualcosa del Grande Saccheggio di quest’era d’anarchia. L’altro giorno, Serraj ha ricevuto i sindaci dell’hinterland di Tripoli e uno, Jamal Al Sriny, che amministra i 400mila abitanti di Suk El Jumaa, dove atterrano gli aerei a Mitiga, l’ha guardato negli occhi: «Sono anni che il governo non mi paga nemmeno l’affitto dell’aeroporto. Non ho soldi per scuole, ospedali, niente. Mi darai una mano?». Bella domanda.

Sunday, October 11


Organizers and participants in the “Creating a Workable World” conference (held this weekend at the University of Minnesota) are undoubtedly sincere. No one wants to live in an unworkable world. 

The sponsoring World Federalist Movement has historically exercised a strong attraction on progressives, appealing to their generous sentiments and wish for world peace, as Coleen Rowley and Diana Johnstone, describe.

“Human rights” organizations have become purveyors of bloody chaos as they advocate Western big-power military attacks on weak countries in the name of “responsibility to protect” – one of several purportedly well- intentioned strategies gone awry such a grand, overarching ideal as world federalism or global democracy must be evaluated in light of current circumstances and its track record.

At the end of World War II, it was widely believed that nationalism was the main cause of the horrors that had just devastated much of the world. It was easy to imagine that abolishing nation states would be a step toward ending wars by removing their cause. 

This sentiment was particularly strong in Western Europe, forming the ideological foundation of the movement that led to European integration, now embodied in the European Union. In that same period, there was a historic movement going in the opposite direction: the national liberation movements in various colonized countries of the Third World

The political drive for national liberation from European powers —Britain, France, the Netherlands— contributed to establishing national sovereignty as the foundation of world peace, by outlawing aggression

Newly liberated Third World countries felt protected by the principle of national sovereignty, seeing it as essential to independence and even to survival. But today, 70 years after the end of World War II, experience has provided lessons in the practice of these two contrary ideals: supranational governance and national sovereignty

Not surprisingly, the official voices of the hegemonic world power and its allies tend to cite internal conflicts, especially in weaker Third World countries, as proof that national sovereignty must be violated in order to defend “human rights” and bring democracy. The danger from “genocide” has even become an official U.S.-NATO pretext for advocating and launching military intervention. With disastrous results

It’s therefore not surprising that Workable World’s keynote speaker, W. Andy Knight, was a supporter of the infamous regime-change war that virtually destroyed Libya, under the guise, paradoxically, of the U.S. and NATO’sresponsibility to protect.” 

That is not just a side issue: It signals the dirty business of wars and regime-change intrigues currently underway behind the scholarly façade of “global governance”. We fear that opposing arguments in favor of national sovereignty will probably not be discussed much during this conference. 

And yet, the European Union has served as an experimental laboratory testing what happens when a large and growing number (now 28) of sovereign states turns over a major part of their rights to supranational governance. Unified institutionally, the weaker members find themselves dominated by the powerful

Despite decades of speeches proclaiming that “we are all Europeans,” when it comes to the crunch, people revert radically to their national identity. Germans resent Greeks for being debtors; Greeks resent Germans for keeping them in debt

All the more so in that there is no way out. Elections are increasingly meaningless within the member states, because major economic decisions are taken essentially in Brussels, by the E.U. institutionsThis is causing increasing disillusionment and de-politicization in Europe

Europeans take virtually no interest in the European Parliament. They do not feel represented by it, and indeed they are not. Democracy works best in small circumscriptions: Greek city states, Iceland, villages. 

The bigger it gets, the less “democratic” it can be. Half a century ago, the functioning ideal was to bring eternal peace to Europe through unity. Today, that institutional unity is creating new divisions and hostility

To put it simply, experience is in the process of killing the ideal and showing why “worldwide parliamentary democracy” may bring more harm than good, at least in the real world as it exists today and will for some time to come.

Thursday, April 9


Last week, Sharm el-Sheikh hosted the 26th Arab League summit. It ended with a bang. In the final communiqué, the organization of 22 Arab states announced the establishment of a "unified Arab force" to address regional security challenges.

At first glance, the Arab League’s decision seems laudable. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hailed the decision as a historic step to fight extremism and "to protect Arab national security." Arab League General Secretary Nabil Elaraby celebrated the resolution as a watershed given the "unprecedented unrest and threats endured by the Arab world," and U.S. 

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter endorsed the plan as "a good thing." The Saudi pro-government daily al-Riyadh even proclaimed the rebirth of the Arab League as a “resurrected breathing, speaking, acting body."

However, the envisioned Arab League military force would have severe negative repercussions for sectarian relations in the greater Middle East. After all, the announcement was made as a Saudi-led military force continued to bombard alleged Iranian-backed Shia insurgents in Yemen and as Western negotiators raced to finalize a framework nuclear agreement with Iran.

T.E. Lawrence wrote in Seven Pillars of Wisdom that “a first difficulty of the Arab movement was to say who the Arabs were”. His job was to forge together an Arab army to rise up in revolt against the Ottomans. Today, another Arab army is taking shape to address new regional threats. 

Arab leaders meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday agreed to create a joint military force ostensibly to take on the Houthi Shia rebels currently causing mayhem in Yemen. The force will be made up of troops from 10 Sunni states, led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

President El-Sisi of Egypt, a former head of the armed forces, has signalled its willingness to commit ground troops if necessary. He said the challenges they faced threatened the “identity” of the region. Arab identity has long been fragmented by nationalism, though held together loosely by the Arab League. 

Its reassertion now owes more to Iran flexing its muscles once more as a regional power than to the need to save Yemen from civil war or confront Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Houthis are seen in many Arab capitals as a proxy for Iran, whose influence in the region is set to grow with the imminent conclusion of a deal at talks in Lausanne with the Americans and the EU on a nuclear enrichment moratorium

Perversely, Iran is now on the same side as the Americans fighting the Islamist insurgency in Syria and Iraq, a collaboration that will alarm the Arabs even more, even if not all Arab states – notably some Gulf nations – share this deep suspicion and fear of Tehran.

For now, tackling Isil and the Houthis in Yemen may be the immediate reason for the Arab military pact. But the spectre that is really haunting the region is Iran.

Thursday, October 16


Dopo l'offensiva contro le milizie islamiche di Benghazi sferrata nelle ultime ore dagli uomini di Khalifa Haftar, lui stesso ha annunciato che le sue truppe "sono ora in grado di liberare la città e il resto della Libia dai gruppi jihaddisti neri, grigi o bianchi che siano". Khalifa Haftar, che e' considerato 'golpista' da Tripoli e "uomo della CIA" dal resto del mondo. Ha aggiunto e avvertito che "i prossimi giorni saranno molto difficili per i libici, ma necessari per restaurare l'ordine e la sicurezza nel Paese". Si vedranno migliaia di morti e feriti.

Al di là della violenza e delle dinamiche interne alla Libia, quanto sta avvenendo è riconducibile a un recente conflitto politico e religioso -ancora più profondo- che attraversa tutto il mondo islamico e che vede opporsi: "sunniti e sciiti". Una guerra di religione analoga a quella che ha diviso nel 1500 i protestanti dai cattolici. Quest’ultima è durata finché le due confessioni si sono rese conto che non conveniva combattersi apertamente per diversi motivi.

Questa é la ragione perchè questa guerra durerà a lungo, anche decenni, almeno finché le due fazioni non decideranno di raggiungere un accordo. Ed è utopistico pensare a questo mondo islamico con concetti decadenti occidentali e avidità di petrolio. Chi oserà intromettersi ne riceverà danni irreversibili.

Difficile definire un’intesa tra le due fazioni. Quel che è certo è che questa intesa non potrà essere se non d'accordo tra le due grandi potenze della regione islamica, le sole capaci di esercitare un efficace riferimento e una completa linea di definizione, cioé: l’Iran sciita e l’Arabia Saudita sunnita.

Tuesday, August 6


Somalia Harakat al-Shabaab. Offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union, which splintered after defeat in 2006 by the Somali transitional federal government. Describes itself as waging jihad against "enemies of Islam". Has kidnapped and killed foreign aid workers. Designated as a terrorist organisation by western governments. Of special concern to UK security services along with Nigeria's Boko Haram movement.

North Africa Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim). Formed when the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat merged with al-Qaida in 2007. Active in Algeria, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Libya. Involved in kidnappings and bombings. The In Amenas gas plant in the Algerian Sahara was seized by an AQIM faction in January.

Iraq Islamic State of Iraq. Al-Qaida branch established in 2006. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis. By last year had reportedly doubled strength to about 2,500. Involved in recent spate of sectarian bombings. Hundreds of members freed in mass breakout from Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad last month.
Syria Jabhat al-Nusra. Founded in 2012. Announced merger with al-Qaida in Iraq. But leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani affirmed allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri. Devoted to fighting regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Not known to have been involved in attacks outside Syria. Western governments fear growth of jihadist extremism because of the crisis.

Exactly what danger is posed to US, British and French interests in Yemen is not public knowledge. But it comes as no surprise that the poorest country in the Arab world and the home of al-Qaida's most active local "franchise" is the apparent focus of the international terrorist alert that has led to the closure of western embassies across the Middle East.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) emerged in Yemen in 2007 after the organisation's effective defeat in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. It is the regular target of US drone strikes. Little is known about the links between it and al-Qaida central in Pakistan. But it is sustained by local factors including wild terrain, economic misery, tribal divisions and the weakness of the Yemeni state, battered by the Arab spring and the threat from secessionist movements.

AQAP is led by Nasser al-Wahayshi, a charismatic Yemeni jihadist who has created "a unified and cohesive militant organisation that has been involved not only in several transnational terrorist attacks but also in fighting an insurgency that has succeeded in capturing and controlling large areas of territory", according to Stratfor, an international security consultancy.

In recent weeks Wahayshi, 36, has reportedly been appointed to a senior al-Qaida position by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's Egyptian successor. Wahayshi, who was Bin Laden's private secretary in Afghanistan, fled to Iran in 2001 and was extradited to Yemen in 2003. In 2006 he escaped from a prison in Sana'a in a mass breakout that did much to invigorate the country's violent extremists.

The group has been under heavy pressure over the past 18 months. Its fighters have been pushed back to desert hideouts from much of the territory they captured in southern Yemen. Despite these setbacks, they have continued publishing an English‑language online magazine called Inspire, a magnet for jihadists from Pakistan to Mali.

AQAP is monitored by Saudi intelligence as well as the CIA and MI6, which both have liaison officers in Sana'a and Riyadh. The Nigerian underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit in 2009, was radicalised in Yemen while claiming to be there studying Arabic. Earlier that year the group tried to assassinate the Saudi security chief, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, with a bomb concealed on the attacker's body.

AQAP regularly attacks Yemeni security and intelligence officers, with more than 60 killed in the past two years, according to the country's interior ministry.

It was revealed in February that the CIA was secretly using an airbase in Saudi Arabia to conduct its drone assassination campaign in Yemen. Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks had earlier exposed the scale of US covert involvement.

Last week the Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, met Barack Obama in Washington. The two leaders "reaffirmed their commitment to a strong counter-terrorism partnership, discussing a range of efforts to counter the threat to both countries posed by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula", the White House said.

Thursday, May 30


Quando Barack Obama ha tenuto, la settimana scorsa, il suo grande discorso sulla Sicurezza Nazionale, i droni, Guantanamo e la “perpetual war” contro il terrore, molti giornali liberal tirarono un sospiro di sollievo. Il New York Times ha scritto che finalmente il presidente aveva detto “in modo inequivocabile” che “lo stato di guerra permanente iniziato 12 anni fa non è sostenibile per la democrazia e deve finire in un futuro non troppo distante”.

In ritardo, ma l’ha fatto: “Obama ha detto al mondo che gli Stati Uniti devono tornare a uno stato in cui il controterrorismo è gestito, come accadeva prima del 2001, con il Law Enforcement e le Agenzie d’Intelligence”. Il riferimento allo stato pre11 settembre non è rassicurante, visto che proprio il fallimento dell’Intelligence è stato determinante per quell’attacco che ha cambiato la guerra al terrorismo (per sempre, verrebbe da dire), ma quel che più conta è che la strategia americana è già da tempo priva di ideologia interventista liberale, ma è dominata dalla caccia ai leader di al Qaida, ovunque essi siano, con licenza di uccidere. 

In quello stesso editoriale del New York Times si diceva che Obama vuole far rientrare anche l’utilizzo dei droni dentro a una cornice legale ora del tutto assente, ma che il presidente non aveva affatto detto che avrebbe ridotto il loro utilizzo. E infatti ieri è arrivata la notizia di uno strike con gli aerei senza pilota nel North Waziristan, Pakistan, almeno sei le vittime, tra cui il numero due dei talebani. 

Se la notizia sarà confermata, l’obiettivo dell’attacco (riuscito) è Wali-ur Rehman, che ha organizzato decine di attacchi contro le truppe pachistane, contro i civili e soprattutto contro le truppe della Nato: sarebbe stato lui a ordire il famoso attacco contro la CIA nella base di Khost – raccontato anche nel film “Zero Dark Thirty”.

Obama non vuole rinunciare ai droni, perché questa strategia per quanto impopolare presso i liberal inorriditi porta dei risultati. Obama non può rinunciare ai droni, perché non ha altra arma contro il terrorismo: la guerra permanente al terrore è già finita da un po’, nell’ambito delle idee: resta la gestione efficiente di un problema. Si parla della pace, si fa la guerra: "obamismo puro".

Wednesday, May 15


“L’Italia, per il rapporto privilegiato che ha con la Libia, può svolgere un ruolo cruciale per la stabilità del Paese e noi vogliamo lavorare con Roma”. Sono le parole del segretario di Stato John Kerry al termine dell’incontro del 9 maggio con il ministro degli Esteri Emma Bonino nel quale la Libia (lo hanno sottolineato i due) è stata al centro dei colloqui. Da quanto è stato reso noto il neo ministro italiano ha evidenziato la ”preoccupazione” condivisa di Italia e Usa ”per l’evoluzione sul terreno” del Paese nordafricano ma la dichiarazione di Kerry è paradossale sotto almeno due aspetti. 

Il primo è che la Libia è allo sbando, tra infiltrazioni massicce di al-Qaeda (in Cirenaica, nel desertico Fezzan e persino a Tripoli) e il caos determinato dalle decine di milizie tribali che hanno feudalizzato il Paese dopo l’uccisione di Muammar Gheddafi. Al punto che in questi giorni Londra e Washington hanno ridotto il personale diplomatico e messo in allerta le forze speciali per eventuali operazioni di evacuazione. Una situazione disastrosa figlia diretta della guerra aerea che Stati Uniti, Francia e Gran Bretagna hanno voluto ad ogni costo nel 2011 contro il regime di Gheddafi senza avere però la determinazione (o gli attribuiti) per assumersi l’onere di stabilizzare il Paese “boots on the ground”, cioè con l’invio di militari sul terreno come è stato fatto in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq e Afghanistan.

Il risultato è che le già debolissime istituzioni libiche sono alla paralisi e il parlamento è stato costretto (sotto la minaccia dei miliziani che ne assediano la sede) ad approvare una legge che vieta la cosa pubblica a quanti hanno avuto a che fare con il regime precedente. In pratica rischia di venire cancellata tutta la nuova classe dirigente libica e anche i leader che avevano guidato la rivolta contro Gheddafi i quali sono stati tutti, recentemente o nel passato, servitori più o meno fedeli del raìs. Per questa ragione quando Kerry ha affermato che “in Libia ci sono ancora tantissime sfide e l’Italia può avere un ruolo cruciale per portare stabilità” sarebbe stato auspicabile che qualcuno a Roma mettesse da parte la consueta prona sudditanza nei confronti degli statunitensi e gli avesse risposto, almeno simbolicamente, con un “vaffa”, termine volgare quando politica e diplomazia erano cose serie ma ormai di uso comune nel linguaggio politico romano. 

Gli statunitensi hanno scatenato una pioggia di missili da crociera e bombe guidate sulla Libia nel marzo 2011 per scardinare le difese di un regime minacciato da una rivolta organizzata grazie alla regia dei franco-britannici che avevano l’obiettivo neppure tanto recondito di togliere influenza e affari all’Italia. Washington passò poi la palla alla NATO, in base alla dottrina obamiana del “leading from behind”, che ci ha messo sette mesi a far fuori Gheddafi lasciando il Paese nel caos e in preda ad al-Qaeda e salafiti.

Come la Francia ha scoperto a sue spese con l’invasione jihadista del nord del Malì e gli Stati Uniti hanno scoperto a loro spese con l’attacco al consolato di Bengasi dell’11 settembre scorso nel quale vennero uccisi l’ambasciatore Chris Stevens e altri tre americani. Una vicenda nella quale la Casa Bianca ha cercato di nascondere la matrice terroristica in delitti che Washington ha lasciato impuniti considerato che l’amministrazione Obama non ha autorizzato interventi militari contro i campi dei quaedisti in Cirenaica. 

Ora che la frittata è stata fatta e la Libia è fuori controllo (con le società petrolifere costrette a pagare “il pizzo” alle milizie tribali per garantire la sicurezza di impianti e personale) Kerry si ricorda del ruolo cruciale dell’Italia “nel portare stabilità”. Roma la stabilità della Libia e nei rapporti con la Libia l’aveva già conseguita da tempo al prezzo di un difficile negoziato con Gheddafi, il quale era certo un “figlio di…” ma, per parafrasare quello che il presidente F-D. Roosevelt diceva del dittatore nicaraguense Anastasio Somoza, era “il nostro figlio di…”. Gheddafi era infatti diventato da anni un ottimo partner commerciale e petrolifero non solo dell’Italia ma dell’intero Occidente ed era un buon alleato nella lotta al terrorismo islamico.

C’è poi un secondo aspetto non meno importante in base al quale sarebbe lecito mandare a quel paese (magari proprio in Libia) John Kerry che ci vuole coinvolgere maggiormente nel vespaio di Tripoli. Nessuno sembra ricordare che fu proprio l’attuale segretario di Stato a “imporre” a Berlusconi di entrare attivamente in guerra contro il regime di Tripoli. Costretto dalle pressioni internazionali e da più alte istituzioni italiane a schierarsi contro Gheddafi e a mettere a disposizione della Nato le nostre basi aeree per le operazioni contro la Jamahiria, Berlusconi si rifiutò per oltre un mese di impiegare i nostri aerei nei bombardamenti sulla Libia, Paese al quale Roma era legata da un patto di non aggressione già peraltro tradito fornendo le nostre basi ai jet dell’Alleanza Atlantica. 

L’allora premier dichiarò che gli aerei italiani “non hanno bombardato e non bombarderanno mai la Libia” ma il venerdì prima di Pasqua giunse a Roma John Kerry, in quel periodo presidente della commissione Esteri del Senato e già “inviato speciale” di Obama per gestire le questioni internazionali più spinose come i difficili rapporti con il presidente afghano Hamid Karzai. A Roma incontrò solo Berlusconi recandogli una lettera di Obama che poi telefonò a Berlusconi la domenica di Pasqua. Forse non solo per porgere gli auguri considerato che il giorno successivo, 25 aprile, il premier italiano annunciò che anche i nostri velivoli avrebbero bombardato la Libia. 

Quel conflitto non ha solo spalancato la porta alla destabilizzazione del Mediterraneo centro meridionale e del Sahel ma ha rappresentato anche il livello più basso di sovranità nazionale espresso dall’Italia che pochi mesi dopo subì l’imposizione del governo Monti. Una sovranità che oggi non sembra essersi elevata di molto se nessuno a Roma ha invitato cordialmente Kerry e gli Stati Uniti a stabilizzarla loro la Libia, cercando di riparare i danni provocati, eventualmente chiedendo “un aiutino” a francesi e britannici.