That was quick: the scramble for Libyan oil begins

It seems that we were correct in suggesting that the commercial value of Libyan oil reserves might be a substantial motivation for the NATO nations who have played such a prominent role in the campaign that has all-but-unseated Muammar Gaddafi from his role as figurehead and dictator of the country. Already, as Rachel Shabi writes on the English Al-Jazeera site, “there are no more illusions over how far NATO forces exceeded the UN security resolution that mandated its campaign”. And forget the politics sections of newspapers: “it’s the financial pages that have the clinical analysis”.

So it, not especially surprisingly, plays out. Much as we would have liked to believe that foreign aid to the Libyan rebels stemmed from noble motives, there was always at least a strong possibility that an ulterior motive would be revealed. That we’ve (the UK) never shown any great compunction in trading with Gaddafi while he sat atop the Libyan hierarchy, yet were quick to turn against him when it became politically expedient to do so, always spoke in favour of that interpretation.

At present, those who look likely to make up the fledgling Libyan government seem willing to honour the contracts made with Gaddafi. Presumably, they’re grateful of the international backup they’ve received and willing to co-operate.

What happens when Western interests and Libyan ones begin to diverge, however? Can we expect a new Libyan government — whatever it might look like — to support strong democracy in the region? Will that begin to conflict with the desires of the nations who shepherded them into power? As ever, the answering of one question brings many more.

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