Monday, October 31, 2011

For-Profit Intervention

Recently, many “civilized, Western” countries have been patting themselves on the back for the decision to spend billions of dollars to enable the sodomy and assassination of a world leader – Mohammad Qaddafi.    Their call for a “humanitarian” intervention to save lives has led not only to this despicable act, but as rape, mass murder, and looting continues on a daily basis by the NATO-approved Libyan Transitional Authority, it appears that the now global  Occupy Wall Street, the 99% percent, has once again been left on the sidelines as fat corporations get fatter sucking on Libyan blood and on Libyan soil.  

The October 29 edition of the NYT helps us understand the West’s excitement for the kill (  I certainly hope for the sake of humanity that there are enough decent people out there to prevent the next profitable, "humanitarian" intervention.  These for-profit interventions only highlight Rwanda's case.

October 29, 2011
Western Companies See Prospects for Business in Libya By SCOTT SHANE

WASHINGTON The guns in Libya have barely quieted, and NATO’s military assistance to the rebellion that toppled Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi will not end officially until Monday. But a new invasion force is already plotting its own landing on the shores of Tripoli .

Western security, construction and infrastructure companies that see profit-making opportunities receding in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned their sights on Libya , now free of four decades of dictatorship. Entrepreneurs are abuzz about the business potential of a country with huge needs and the oil to pay for them, plus the competitive advantage of Libyan gratitude toward the United States and its NATO partners.

A week before Colonel Qaddafi’s death on Oct. 20, a delegation from 80 French companies arrived in Tripoli to meet officials of the Transitional National Council, the interim government. Last week, the new British defense minister, Philip Hammond, urged British companies to “pack their suitcases” and head to Tripoli .

When Colonel Qaddafi’s body was still on public display, a British venture, Trango Special Projects, pitched its support services to companies looking to cash in. “Whilst speculation continues regarding Qaddafi’s killing,” Trango said on its Web site, “are you and your business ready to return to Libya ?”

The company offered rooms at its Tripoli villa and transport “by our discreet mixed British and Libyan security team.” Its discretion does not come cheaply. The price for a 10-minute ride from the airport, for which the ordinary cab fare is about $5, is listed at 500 British pounds, or about $800.

“There is a gold rush of sorts taking place right now,” said David Hamod, president and chief executive officer of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. “And the Europeans and Asians are way ahead of us. I’m getting calls daily from members of the business community in Libya . They say, ‘Come back, we don’t want the Americans to lose out.’ ”

Yet there is hesitancy on both sides, and so far the talk greatly exceeds the action. The Transitional National Council, hoping to avoid any echo of the rank corruption of the Qaddafi era, has said no long-term contracts will be signed until an elected government is in place. And with cities still bristling with arms and jobless young men, Libya does not offer anything like a safe business environment hence the pitches from security providers.

Like France and Britain , the United States may benefit from the Libyan authorities’ appreciation of NATO’s critical air support for the revolution. Whatever the rigor of new rules governing contracts, Western companies hope to have some advantage over, say, China , which was offering to sell arms to Colonel Qaddafi as recently as July.

“Revenge may be too strong a word,” said Phil Dwyer, director of SCN Resources Group, a Virginia contracting company that opened an office in Tripoli two weeks ago to offer “risk management” advice and services to a company he would not name. “But my feeling is those who are in favor” with the transitional council “are going to get the nod from a business point of view.”

The Security Contracting Network, a job service run by Mr. Dwyer’s company, posted on its blog two days after Colonel Qaddafi’s death that there would be plenty of work opening up in Libya .

“There will be an uptick of activity as foreign oil companies scramble to get back to Libya ,” the company said, along with a need for logistics and security personnel as the State Department and nonprofit organizations expand operations. “Keep an eye on who wins related contracts, follow the money, and find your next job,” the post advised.

In Tripoli , there is a wait-and-see atmosphere. At breakfast on Friday in a downtown hotel, a British security contractor pointed out the tables of burly men hired guns like himself. “Look at it,” he said. “Full of ’em.”

Many are still protecting foreign journalists, but others are hoping to get training contracts with a fledgling government trying to tame its unruly armed forces. Security industry officials say the work here may never match the colossal scale of spending in Iraq and Afghanistan , but with a squeeze coming on European and American government spending, it is a prize nonetheless.

Business opportunities for Western companies began opening in Libya in 2004, when Colonel Qaddafi’s decision to give up his nuclear weapons program ended his country’s pariah status. Mr. Hamod led four American business delegations to Libya between 2004 and 2010 and watched “a gradual thawing of commercial relations,” he said.

Total foreign direct investment in Libya had grown to $3.8 billion in 2010, from an estimated at $145 million in 2002, according to the World Bank. But many deals were skewed by brazen demands from Colonel Qaddafi’s children for a share of the proceeds, and the state of the country was grim after many years of economic sanctions and neglect.

Libya “needed everything,” Mr. Hamod said: banking and financial services, hospitals and medical clinics, roads and bridges, and infrastructure for energy and for the oil industry.

Now, after months of fighting, and with the security situation still fragile, there are huge new requirements, like rebuilding apartment complexes reduced to rubble by shelling, guarding oil installations as they restore or expand production, and training and equipping new armed forces.

Mr. Hamod said American companies are often more hesitant than Chinese or some European companies about operating in a tumultuous environment like that of post-Qaddafi Libya . “There’s reluctance to charge headlong back into Libya ,” he said. “Historically, U.S. companies are interested in the rule of law on the ground and what it might mean for a multimillion-dollar investment.”

At a Group of 8 meeting in Marseille , France , in September, finance ministers pledged $38 billion in new financing, largely loans, to Arab countries between 2011 and 2013. Though Libya is now pumping less than one-third of its prewar oil production of 1.7 million barrels a day, it has Africa ’s largest oil reserves, which eventually should mean a steady supply of cash.

The simultaneous excitement and confusion for people exploring opportunities in Libya are evident in proliferating Libya-themed groups on LinkedIn, the online business-oriented social network.

“Can anyone in the group tell me if there are flights into Tripoli ,” wrote Peter Murphy, an Irish surveyor now working on an offshore wind project, on a LinkedIn discussion page called Anglo Libya Business Group. “Also, what is the situation for business visas for business travelers?”

One answer came from Mabruk Swayah, who identified himself on LinkedIn as a Libyan working in business development. “Hi friends you are all welcome to Libya ,” Mr. Swayah wrote. “Just make sure you go through the proper channels for your work contracts and don’t get involved in bribes, inducements or sweeteners to officials.”

He added, “Remember we have free media now.”

Adam Nossiter and David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting from Tripoli , Libya .

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Syria Imperative

The Assad regime in Syria is facing increased scrutiny for its handling of demonstrators.  The Syrian opposition has asked for arms and NATO intervention similar to what was witnessed in Libya.  Washington Hawks such as former presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John McCain have called for military intervention in Syria to “protect civilians.”    The call for the use of military force to “protect”.

Given the demonstrated lack of regard for human life and the aversion to justice (Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.), what lies behind the imperative to intervene in Syria?

The protest movements in Syria started in Daraa -- dubbed the epicenter of the anti-Assad protests.  Daraa, traditionally supportive of Syria's ruling Baath Party, suffered from reduced water supply triggering massive protests against the local administration and the regime for failing to deal with the acute water scarcity in the region.   Water.

Therein lies the crucial motivation behind the support, agitation, and arming of Syrians against their government by those who endorse ‘humanitarian wars’.   It would be na├»ve to believe that the ‘humanitarian’ interest in Syria comes on the heels of the uprisings in the region given that water has been and continues to be a critical determinant of state security and foreign policy between Israel and Syria (as well as Lebanon) dating back decades.     

It was the 1967 war which resulted in the exponential expansion of Israeli water sources including the  control of the Golan Heights (also referred to as the Syrian Golan).   For decades, Syrian Golan and the return of its control to Syria has posed a major obstacle to the Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations.   Israel’s water demands make it virtually impossible to accommodate this process.  In fact, even with full control of the Golan, Israel’s water crisis in 2000 were so acute that it prompted Israel to turn to Turkey for water purchase.   

In addition,  Syria’s  presence in Lebanon since the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in 1975 played a crucial role in hindering Israel’s never-ending water demands.   Although the  1955 Johnston Plan (under the auspices of the Eisenhower administration) proposed diverting water from Lebanon’s Litani River into Lake Kinneret, it was not officially formulated, though it remained an attractive prospect.    In  1982, Israeli forces established the frontline of their security zone in Lebanon along the Litani.   Numerous reports alleged that Israel was diverting large quantities of Litani water.  

Syria’s presence in Lebanon and the 1991 Lebanese-Syrian Treaty of Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination,  was a challenge to Israel and its diversion of water.  When Syria replaced Israel as the dominant power in southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israeli fears grew that Syrian success in controlling the Golan and by extension, Lake Kinneret, would have a devastating effect on Israel. 

Perhaps this helps explain the fact that on  September 13, 2001, while the United States  was recovering from the shock of 9/11,  the influential and powerful JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) had a statement available as to how the U.S. should proceed.    As part of its recommendations, it pointed the finger at not only at Afghanistan and Iraq, but also presented Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan, the Palestinian Authority, Libya, Algeria (and eventually Saudi Arabia and Egypt) as danger spots.  Shortly thereafter, in May 2002, the “Axis of Evil” was expanded to include Syria.   

The next logical step was for the United States to pass and implement the Syrian Accountability Act and the Lebanon Sovereignty Restoration Act which in addition to sanctions, called for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.  The troops remained until April 2005.   They were forced to leave  a few short months after the assassination of Prime Minsiter, Rafik Hariri  when Syria was accused of involvement in the murder.   Clearly, Syria was not the beneficiary of the assassination.

Without a Syrian presence, Lebanon was made more vulnerable, facilitating the 2006 Israeli attack and invasion of water-rich Southern Lebanon.   

While Israel lost the public opinion war in Lebanon and Syria remained intact amidst the accusations and chaos,  it became necessary to once again put Syria in the spotlight.   In 2007, Syria stood accused of having a nuclear bomb program.  As a member of the NPT, rather than reporting such suspicions (unfounded) to the IAEA,  Israel, with a green light from the United States, bombed a factory which it alleged was involved in nuclear weapons activities.    

Israel’s attack on Syria on 6 September 2007, remained secret until it was revealed by the former prime minister (1996-1999) and the then opposition leader, Binyamin Netanyahu --  the current Prime Minister of Israel. 

Netanyahu took office in March 2009.  In April 2009, a U.S. funded London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, started broadcasting anti-regime propaganda into Syria.   Barada  TV’s  chief editor, Malik al-Abdeh, is a cofounder of the Syrian exile group Movement for Justice and Development headed by Anas al-Abdah.  It is crucial to note that the pro-Israel Dennis Ross, a former fellow at the AIPAC created Washington Institute for Near East Affairs,  who is currently a senior advisor to Barack Obama,  was present in a 2008 meeting with Anas al-Abdah (see here).  Although the meeting took place in early 2008, the theme of the meeting was: “Syria in-transition”.    

Prophecy or planning, doubtless,  there are many Syrians who do have grievances against their government and demand more rights.  In this sense, their cause is no different than  the many protests we witness on a daily basis around the world – including the United States.   What is tragic about the Syrian situation, is that the imperative for intervention in Syria is not based on a genuine desire to help the people.  The peoples’ grievances is being used as a means to arm them, have them killed, and create the need for an intervention in order to promote Israeli interests.  

The Syria imperative is Israel’s gain paid for with the blood of the Syrian people.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Setup - The Assassination Plot Thickens

News wires are abuzz with the extraordinary allegation of an Iranian “plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the US”.  In yet another bizarre twist,  according to Haaretz,  a few months ago prior to the “plot”,  Saudi officials told Argentina about a possible plot against Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires.  Curious as this seems, there is reason for this new rumor. 

As many Iran experts dismiss the possibility of such an act,  the tried and tested method of rendering the most fantastic rumor credible is being applied.  For decades, the  British and later Americans knew well that the best way to give rumors credibility was to ensure that such rumors were repeated by various "friendly" countries.   Propaganda became ‘fact’ if repeated by different countries.   This  method of propaganda was a well-known and well played tactic of the Allies against Germany. 

In dealing with Iran, the allegations of a plot take on a new life when repeated by various allies.    In this new scenario, there is an attempt to give these farfetched allegations credibility, not only are the Saudis and Israelis being involved, but also Argentina.    This reference to Argentina is particularly important.  

In the past, Iran had been falsely (and without proof)  accused of the 1994 bombing
of  the Jewish community center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.    What is revealing about the 1994 bombing and the accusations made against Iran, is the fact that the far more plausible leads were dismissed in order to promote the “Iran guilty” narrative. 

It has been a well-kept secret that an important project being carried out in the Argentine MIA building was a review of previously secret government  files that reportedly reveal how Nazis entered Argentina following World War  II helped by Argentine officials.  Hitler was not without long-term impact in Argentina.  The country's military regime kept secret camps decorated with swastikas.[1] The review of the files had gone on for  two years, but had not been completed at the time of the bombing.  

Speculation centered on the possibility that former Argentine government  and military officials, fearful of exposure, were responsible for the bomb attack.  In this regard, it is hard to dismiss the views of Rabbi Abraham Cooper,  associate director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.   Cooper suggested that government and military figures may have sought to embarrass the Menem government because of its decision to release the files[2].  This crucial lead was buried under the rubbles in order to promote the  foreign policy of Israel – demonize Iran.  

Given the prior cooperation between the Israelis, the Argentines, and US to  promote a foreign policy agenda rather than establish the truth,  it is not surprising that once again the three players are involved with an additional, important new player – the Saudis.  Given the fact that the Saudis had previously agreement to allow Israel to use their airspace to attack Iran had met with condemnation,  this new “plot” would justify the Saudi decision to help Israel and the US wage yet another war on fellow Moslems. 

[1] Esther Schrader, President of Argentina Apologizes for Nation's Role as Haven for Nazis. Los Angeles Times. : Jun 14, 2000.  pg. 16

[2] The Christian Century.  Chicago: Jul 27, 1994.  Vol. 111