Thursday, February 08, 2018

Not discussed on Russia Today

New York Times with extended report on the external machinations in Libya --

The same year, the Russians also approached Ibrahim Jathran, a militia leader who controlled Libya’s key oil ports before General Haftar. United States Navy SEALs had recently boarded a North Korean-flagged ship and disrupted a plot by Mr. Jathran to bypass Libya’s government and sell oil directly on the international market. Two of Mr. Jathran’s top deputies, who asked that only their first names, Osama and Ahmed, be used, for fear of reprisals, described how the Russians then stepped in with a “really amazing” proposal to help Mr. Jathran sell the oil — and arm his militia. The Russians, Osama and Ahmed said, would market the crude oil, moving it through Egypt to Russia. Mr. Jathran would be paid in weapons for the first six months, and in cash thereafter. “The weapons included everything we have, plus armored cars, antiaircraft missiles, heat-seeking shoulder-held weapons, light weapons and comm gear including Hetra wireless,” Osama said.

The end of the tale is that while the oil-for-weapons deal didn't get done with this particular militia, it eventually got done with the Benghazi-based forces of Khalifa Haftar.

The sad fact is that there's nothing conceptually new about any of this. Natural resources used to finance weapons, which prolong conflict, which deplete the natural resources so that they can't benefit the people, so there is more reason for conflict. That's what the term "conflict diamonds" was meant to capture. But when Russia plays exactly the same game, it's portrayed as brilliant strategic moves by Vladimir Putin, and a lot of war critics go very silent. Since we know how this story of resource-fueled conflict ends -- it doesn't -- they'll have to be silent for a long time. 

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