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Ruin & Rebuild: Warfare worth $300bln Libya windfall

Published time: November 15, 2011 14:29
Edited time: November 16, 2011 05:49

Destroyed buildings stand in Sirte's sector 2 neighbourhood on November 6, 2011 (AFP Photo / Joseph Eid)

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Libya has big plans for its post-war future, hoping to be reborn as the next Dubai and having all the necessary sun and beaches, with oil reserves aplenty. British companies are likely to come out on top of those lining up for a piece of the action.

It was France and the UK who initially led the effort to topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Britain, together with France, sent their navy and fighter jets to establish a sea blockade and assault military targets on Libyan territory.

Now the National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya says its friends will be rewarded – and these are not just words.

In the last two weeks, the UK Department for Trade and Industry led a working party to Libya to look around at what needed rebuilding. The British government department estimates that Libyan contracts, in sectors from oil and gas to education and construction, could be worth some $315 billion over the next decade.

Oil firms Shell and BP have already held talks with the Libyan transitional government, which pledged to honor the Gaddafi-era contracts with them.

Now the NTC delegation is in London to hold talks with top business executives on the “massive opportunity to rebuild Libya.”

All this directly correlates between efforts to oust Gaddafi and contracts that are rewarded afterwards, reports RT's Laura Smith from London.

Earlier it was the turn of German companies that expressed interest in taking part in effort to re-build Libya, but the NTC said “no” to them. It was sort of “You did not participate in bombing and the no-fly zone, and since you did not take part in that, you will have no business opportunities either.”

Exactly the same picture was seen in post-war Iraq, where French companies attempted to get into business, but were bluntly rejected. And that served to the French as a very illustrative example of how they should act the next time such “opportunity” arose. In Iraq the majority of contracts were granted to the US and the UK companies.

It was quite transparent from the very beginning of the “humanitarian operation” that since it has the biggest proven oil reserves in Africa, Libya would have money to fund a rebuilding by the winner.

Even before the operation started there were rumors that the NTC had promised French oil firm Total up to 35 per cent of all oil contracts if Paris sent warplanes to Libya and supported the Council.

French officials later denied that such an arrangement ever existed, but the oil giant is now well on track to launching onshore extraction early next year. The company confirmed that it did not need to renegotiate its contracts signed under Gaddafi.

For the UK, which looks to be one of the major players in the operation, it looks like an excellent business, too. The estimates vary as to how much the war in Libya cost the UK – something about $500 million – but the sum of the contracts are already known and they exceed the expenditures by far.

With hundreds of billions dollars in contracts up for grabs, Libya’s bombardment looks like an excellent investment from any perspective. With the exception of those who count in the moral cost of thousands of Libyans killed in the bloody civil war with NATO’s direct support.

Sukant Chandan – a spokesman for British Civilians For Peace in Libya however is convinced the fighting will not stop. There are tribes within the country who are strongly against selling the natural resources of Libya to the former colonial powers.

“What we are going to see is an increase in the inter-tribal warfare which has a political content,” he told RT. “It is not just inter-tribal, it represents forces which want Libya to return to independence and what “The Financial Times” called “the resource nationalism of Gaddafi’s government”