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Follow the money in Libya

By Saeed Shabazz -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Aug 1, 2011 - 3:23:01 PM

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West, allies anoint new Libyan government

UNITED NATIONS ( - Some experts and international analysts are questioning the validity of a July 15 announcement in Istanbul, Turkey by 30 nations known as the Libya Contact Group that named the National Transitional Council the representative body of the Libyan people and declared the regime of President Muammar Gadhafi no longer has any legitimate authority.

The announcement also declared he and some members of his family must go.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the declaration, saying the Obama administration was recognizing the rebels “until a fully representative interim government can be established.” Additionally, a statement by the contact group “reaffirmed its solidarity with the Libyan people in the pursuit of their legitimate cause for a democratic and free Libya.”

“A case of misguided internationalism,” responded Dr. Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, when asked about the move.

“Basically it's individual governments making that decision, showing their true intentions, which is regime change,” added Phyllis Bennis, of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies and director of its New Internationalism Project. “It's kind of giving an international group power and recognition,” she told The Final Call, referring to the contact group.

“Was this really a precedent?” asked Dr. Zunes rhetorically. Ms. Bennis insisted what had taken place was no precedent, saying the same thing was done by the West throughout the Balkan Wars of the 1980s.

Sara Flounders, of the New York-based International Action Center and Coalition to Stop U.S. War in Libya, said to understand the contact group's real purpose “just follow the money.” She was referring to the announcement by Secretary Clinton that the U.S. would allow the rebel government access to $30 billion in Libyan assets seized under UN Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, which also allowed for military action in Libya.

The contact group urged other nations to “follow a similar” path.

Meeting participants encouraged nations with frozen Libyan assets under their control to open credit lines to the contact group corresponding to 10 percent to 20 percent of frozen assets, using the assets as collateral.

“People must see this for what it really is,” warned Ms. Flounders. The U.S. and its allies did the same thing after attacking Iraq, when billions of dollars belonging to the Iraqi government disappeared, she said.

Some say the money trail also leads to multinational corporations with a thirst for Libyan contracts. Paragraph 11 of the statement from the Libyan Contact Group: “Noting that the unfolding situation in Libya since mid-February has disrupted the operations of foreign companies and contractors, the contact group welcomed the commitment of the NTC to open up Libya to foreign investment as soon as possible, and its commitment to honor any existing legal contracts signed under the Qaddafi regime.”

A Canadian official publicly questioned the legality of using funds frozen by the UN resolutions, saying nothing could be done without Security Council approval.

“There is nothing I can say on that issue,” a spokesman for the UN Secretary-General told The Final Call.

The Russian foreign minister July 18 said his government did not support the Libyan Contact Group, causing questions about possible Russian vetoes of any resolution introduced in the Security Council to allow use of frozen funds.

Then there is the African Union, which attended the July 15 meeting as an “invitee,” not as a participant. “The African Union has not changed its position on regime change in Libya,” said the AU ambassador to the UN, Tete Antonio, to The Final Call. The AU has repeatedly called for a negotiated settlement and an end to military action.

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