Books on Libya
Col Mu'amar al-Qadhafi
Update No: 011 - (04/10/04)
A Formal End and an Official Beginning for
Relations With the West
In September, Libya made important strides toward securing full diplomatic
recognition both with its European neighbours and the United States. While the
dismantling of the US embargo earnestly began in April of this year, there were
remaining issues. With the recent US announcement, the United States has
formally ended Washington's trade embargo, which affected general trade,
aviation and the importing of Libyan oil while the European Union agreed to lift
all pending sanctions on Libya. The process had begun in the spring but some
obstacles remained; notably, an exception to full normalization brought forth by
Germany, which demanded compensation for a nightclub terror attack in Berlin in
1986 - the very attack that would prompt the US bombing of Tripoli that year.
In September Germany and Libya agreed to a deal which obliged Libya to make an
initial payment of $15m by the 8th of September. The payment was delayed and
raised German concerns. However, Libyan officials have assured German officials
that the sum had been deposited. Two further payments are due to be made by 1
March of next year. The compensation deal was signed on 3 September by a son of
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and a team of German lawyers. This agreement
removed one of the last obstacles to Libya's international rehabilitation
opening the way to formalizing the agreements concluded at the end of September.
Nonetheless, Libya will remain on Washington's list of state sponsors of
"terrorism", and was subject to relevant sanctions. American officials
have also stressed the fact that the US diplomatic mission in Tripoli does not
enjoy full diplomatic status and that it is merely acting as a liaison office.
While, some terrorism related restriction will prevent a complete normalization
of Libya's relationship with the United States, as far as Europe is concerned
senior diplomats have noted that there are no longer sanctions left against
Libya. The EU resolutions freeing Libya from the punitive diplomatic regime that
has existed for almost 20 years are widely expected to be approved on October
11th at a meeting of EU foreign ministers. By all accounts, Libya has been fully
rehabilitated in the international community.
In more practical terms the diplomatic agreements reached in September vis-à-vis
Libya's relationship with the United States and the European Union mean that
Europe will finally be able to sell Libya the promised military equipment it
needs to upgrade its armed forces. Moreover, Libyan Airlines, the national
Libyan carrier, will be able to secure upgraded equipment and new airliners. The
oil industry will also benefit from Libya's newly won ability to import drilling
equipment heretofore considered to have strategic dual-purpose characteristics
for military use. Europe's largest defence company, BAE Systems of Britain, was
very pleased with the recent developments, as it sees a clear opportunity to
expand the current negotiations concerning the renewal of the civil aviation
infrastructure to the development of a defence market.
In August, the Italian minister of the Interior Pisanu visited Libya to discuss
measures to curb the flow of illegal migrants boarding boats to reach Italian
shores from the Libyan coastline. Libyan officials were concerned that the
Libyan military infrastructure was unable to cope with this problem lacking the
patrolling tools - adequate vehicles and boats - to monitor the coastline and
land borders. Many migrants are willing to endure very precarious conditions and
filter into Libya from the vast open borders along the Sahara from such
countries as Chad or Niger. The Italian government had conceded to Libya's
requests for new equipment and the new diplomatic climate will enable Italy, and
the EU, to move swiftly in that direction. Nevertheless, EU officials said arms
exports to Libya would still be limited by an EU code of conduct barring the
sale of equipment that could be used in domestic repression or regional
conflicts - not exclusive to Libya. Conveniently, it helps that the diplomatic
arrangements with the United States have also provided for the unfreezing of
Libyan assets held in the United States.
Italy builds concentration camps again
While the new diplomatic arrangements will facilitate Libya's relationship
with the 'West' Italy was the country that has vied most decidedly in favour of
full rehabilitation of Libya because it maintains interests with Tripoli
comprising oil and trade, as well as immigration control. Indeed, the internal
Italian political reality has benefited Libya indirectly. Prime Minister
Berlusconi's government coalition includes the volatile Lega Nord, which favours
strong immigration controls. Recently, under the influence of the Lega Nord
members of parliament, Italy has adopted a controversial legislation - the so
called Bossi-Fini - which imposes harsher penalties for those involved in
illegal immigration and makes expulsions easier to process. The law has been
questioned on a number of human rights concerns and the Italian government has
consequently been under pressure to find concrete solutions to the immigration
problem. The new laws have not had any curbing effect on immigration and holding
centers in Sicily and on the island of Lampedusa have witnessed untenable
conditions, as the number of migrants arriving in makeshift boats leaving from
the shores of North Africa, reached a critical point in during the summer. Along
with plans, now enabled by the removal of all sanctions, to provide Libya with
new land and sea based patrolling equipment, the Italian interior minister
Pisanu has proposed the creation of asylum camps in Libya itself. Berlusconi and
Col. Qadhafi had discussed this plan during their August meeting. The idea, had
originally been proposed by Britain, and was revived by Italy and Germany, but
it does not enjoy unanimous support at the European level.
The proposal will be discussed by EU Interior and Justice ministers in the
coming weeks, while Amnesty International - which was allowed to discuss human
rights issues with Libyan officials last spring - has already voiced its concern
citing Libya's human rights record. Sweden, and France have also offered their
scepticism regarding this proposal. The main issue for concerned parties
revolves around the provision of adequate protection measures for the asylum
seekers. Libya has had a very controversial record on its management of the
illegal immigration phenomenon, which became highly contentious in the mid-90's.
Conditions in Libyan detention centres, such as the infamous Janzour prison
outside Tripoli were notoriously bad and in 2002 the situation worsened with
frequent riots resulting in many deaths between African immigrants and Libyans
in the Girgaresh district of Tripoli. To quell concerns, the Italian government
is planning to send 150 police officers to Libya to help train their Libyan
counterparts. The training exercises are expected to last one month and are
likely to start in November. The police presence will be complemented by the
sale of Italian airplanes, boats, 4WD vehicles and helicopters to be used
directly to aid in the curbing of illegal immigration before the problem reaches
the human traffickers on the shores of the Mediterranean. There is another less
evident issue concerning the perception of Italian run camps in Libya. The camps
will no doubt remind Libyans of the last time that Italy ran what will, in
practical terms, look like the concentration camps of the Italian colonization
between 1911 and 1943. The United Nations objects to the camps being located
outside of the EU. Germany had envisaged such camps to be placed in Morocco and
backs the initiative, which was first proposed by PM Tony Blair. The new EU
Justice Commissioner Rocco Buttiglione, a member of Berlusconi's Casa delle
Liberta' coalition, also backs the plan.
Meanwhile, as the EU, Italy and Libya move forward with the camps and the new
immigration measures, 402 illegal migrants have evaded the controls and landed
on Lampedusa island in the night between the 29th and the 30th of September.
This will now doubt give further impetus to Minister Pisanu and the EU, which
considers the illegal immigration phenomenon a time-bomb.
Financing six investment projects in Libyan oil and gas
The secretariat of Libya's General People's Committee held a meeting Sunday
dedicated to discussing the ways and means to financing six investment projects
in oil and gas fields in Libya, mathaba.net reported recently.
The meeting was attended by the secretary of the Libya's General People's
Committee, the assistant secretary of the committee, the secretaries of the
General People's Committees for Planning, Economy, Trade and Energy, the
governor of the Central Bank of Libya and the secretary of the National Oil
Corporation as well as a number of experts and specialists in oil and investment
The participants discussed the ways and means to implement these six investment
projects by borrowing from domestic national resources.
General Peoples Committee sources revealed that convening this meeting of the
secretariat on this respect, comes after feasibility studies conducted on these
projects showed encouraging economic potential, warranting their implementation,
financing and speeding up their execution through domestic borrowing.
The source indicated that the total implementation cost of these projects was
3642 million dinars . The projects are:
- Development of oil discovery project .. MN (186) Murzeq basin.
- Development of oil discovery project N (86) D ..Murzeq basin.
- Expanding the coastal gas supply network.
- Development project of the eastern region of al- Bury oil rig.
- Project for the development of the Feel field in the M.N 174 region at Murzeq
- Gas development project in the West of Libya.
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