The multinational empire has come up with a great deal for itself: using Libya’s own money to finance the Libyan rebels to fight against Libya. Ali Tarhouni, a US-educated economist who just got appointed “finance minister” of the rebel “Interim Transitional National Council,” explains the deal:
“Right now, there is no immediate crisis kind of need for cash. We have some liquidity that allows us to do the basic things,” he said, such as paying salaries and immediate needs.
He added that many countries have agreed to provide credit backed by the Libyan sovereign fund, and the British government has also agreed to give the rebels access to 1.4 billion dinars ($1.1 billion) that London did not send to Gadhafi.
This way, the empire’s expenses will be limited to the costs of bombing, etc., which are shared among its members anyway. If all goes well, the Barack Obama administration, for instance, might even manage to avoid having to seek a supplemental in the short term (that is, if the highly suspect rebel leaders don’t pocket much of the money themselves, failing to pay their retainers, as has happened many times in cases like this). A splendid little war perfect for the age of austerity.
But the member of the empire getting the most out of this war for now is probably not the power elite of the United States but the ruling class of the Gulf states. Libya is straight up gold for them: doing Libya in pleases the West; but more importantly it helps deflect attention away from their joint repression of intifadas at home, especially the big one in Bahrain. And on top of it all, some of them apparently stand to make some money: “Rebels Say Qatar Ready to Market East Libyan Oil,” according to Reuters today. Sweet crude in return for Al Jazeera‘s war propaganda and Qatar‘s participation in the war itself. There is no business like war business.
That the Libyan rebels love the empire and vice versa is quite clear by now. This is how Nicholas D. Kristof describes just how much the Libyan rebels love the Americans for bombing their own country.
This may be a first for the Arab world: An American airman who bailed out over Libya was rescued from his hiding place in a sheep pen by villagers who hugged him, served him juice and thanked him effusively for bombing their country.
Even though some villagers were hit by American shrapnel, one gamely told an Associated Press reporter that he bore no grudges. Then, on Wednesday in Benghazi, the major city in eastern Libya whose streets would almost certainly be running with blood now if it weren’t for the American-led military intervention, residents held a “thank you rally.”
What remains mysterious is why so many leftists, Arabs, and Iranians, secular or religious, reformist or revolutionary, in the West or in the axis of resistance fell deeply and blindly in love with the Libyan rebels. No matter how much they love the rebels (who remain “revolutionaries” in the eyes of the slaves of love), there is no evidence whatsoever that the rebels love them or what they stand for. There wasn’t even a hint of flirtation in that direction, in fact. To be sure, the Libyan rebels’ marriage to the empire may eventually end in a bitter divorce, but, if Afghanistan and other precedents like it are any indication, such a divorce is unlikely to lead to a rebound affair with anything remotely in the interest of the unrequited lovers of the Libyan rebels.
In recent days, though, I have noticed that the propaganda machine of the Islamic Republic of Iran began to change tack on Libya. Maybe the Iranian establishment finally realized that the Libyan rebels aren’t pro-Iranian. In contrast, leftists and Hezbollah, perhaps more selflessly idealistic than Iranian officials, have yet to ask that crucial question of international solidarity, which unlike charity is always a two-way street: Are the rebels for us or against us?
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Khalifa Hifter, chosen by the rebel “National Council” to lead the rebel army, has now been revealed as a defector turned CIA operative, a man who was wrong when pro-Gaddafi, wronger still since then.
Yoshie Furuhashi is Editor of MRZine. Em português: “O amor aos rebeldes líbios.”