Libyan oil production drops from 1.4 million barrels per day to less than 160,000, as tribal conflict threatens to escalate into all out civil war.
As the Syrian war crisis looms, and the repercussions of putting a “rebel” mercenary army aligned with al Qaeda into power while simultaneously antagonizing Iran, Russia and other world powers waits to play out, it is important to note what has become of Libya – in many ways a twin model for regime change that nevertheless pales in comparison to the potential for ousting the Assad regime to blowback hard on the United States.
Taking out Col. Gaddafi for the cause of ‘democracy’ and ‘Western liberalism’ at the cost of putting al Qaeda-aligned “rebel” factions into power ultimately cost considerable political capital, a little over a billion dollars and the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans via the Benghazi affair. Numerous civilians were killed and countless Libyans displaced while a once modern and prosperous North African country rich in oil, gold and other resources was wrecked.
Take a look at these startling photos before and after the 2011 NATO campaign:
Now Libya threatens to inflame in civil war over political control for territory and oil and prolonged factional/tribal fighting, as it descends into chaos, lawlessness and ruin.
According to the London Independent, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi. Patrick Cockburn writes:
Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.
Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.
In an escalating crisis little regarded hitherto outside the oil markets, output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day now. Despite threats to use military force to retake the oil ports, the government in Tripoli has been unable to move effectively against striking guards and mutinous military units that are linked to secessionist forces in the east of the country.
Moreover, in the wake of the murder of Chris Stevens and fallout over the politics of his death, Libya has seen heightened violence and targeted assassinations, including that of military prosecutor in Libya, Col. Yussef Ali al-Asseifar, killed on August 29, who had been overseeing investigations into political assassinations against leaders and journalists.
About a month ago, some 1,000-1,200 prisoners escaped Libyan jails, coinciding with major prison breaks in Iraq and Pakistan, prompting new terror warnings and expected surges in al Qaeda forces. At the same time, at least 19 prisoners have been shot or injured in jail, with one prisoner claiming detainees were being shot at through the bars while being held without charge.
A weak Muslim Brotherhood government holds titular power while tribal groups volley for power. The Independent reports that “a war between two Libyan tribes, the Zawiya and the Wirrshifana, is going on just 15 miles from the Prime Minister’s office” while convoys for diplomats as well as embassies from Europe have been reportedly shot at or targeted. the diplomatic presence by France and other European powers has been targeted.
“We are currently witnessing the collapse of state in Libya, and the country is getting closer to local wars for oil revenues,” a Swiss oil analyst company called Petromatrix claimed in a Guardian report, while noting the “watchful eye” of BP, Shell and other major oil firms as well as shippers and other industry players, as production in the oil rich nation is nearly shut off completely.
“Production has stopped as a result of the port closures and production has reached almost zero,” Naji Mukhtar, head of the GNA’s energy committee told Reuters. The news agency also reported on the possible eruption of civil war:
Oil industry executives say Zeidan’s shaky central government risked widening violence that could descend into civil war if it uses force to recapture oilfields.
Armed groups have also threatened to close the Wafa gas field, which if shut would cause severe power shortages in the capital, an oil official told Reuters.
With Egypt in disarray, Libya collapsing, growing power for the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda alike, renewed tensions in Iraq and planned action against Syria now threatening to take the whole region with it, the Arab Spring and Obama-era wave of regime change can officially be considered a failure, unconstitutional and morally reprehensible.