Quest For Economic Riches Drove Germany's Libya Policy

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[Global: Libya]

What role is Germany playing in Libya which is now at the center of the upheavals in north Africa and the Middle East?

While the situation in Libya is very much in flux, one has to keep an eye on the international relation that Gaddafi established under his leadership-- to get an understanding of the forces that are with and behind him and the forces that are against him.

For at this point the international right-wing is taking advantage of the material contradiction in the country to have direct access to the oil within the country. But, Germany has added a very new twist to the North African predicament and catastrophe, and the negation of African solvency south of the Sahara.

Germany has been the first Western Government with its politician on the scene when uprising began in north Africa. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle rushed to Tunis to assure the then-prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi of German support. He suggsted that forming a "transformation-partnership" would be appropriate for their political crisis and that Germany would offer generous financial support. Ghannouchi was later swept by the crisis and forced to resign.

The German government was attempting to put on a very new face and hoping that its very close relation with the autocratic and despotic government would be forgotten.

Officially, the German government speaks of its encouragement for the "joyous democratic movement." At every opportunity, Westerwelle praises the "beginning

of a democratic reformation" in the Middle East. While, in reality, the government is extremely concerned and determined to use all of its power to defend its interests in the region--including in Libya.

Libya lies between Tunisia and Egypt and this is at the heart of German interests: it has been one of the most crucial exporter of oil to Germany for decades. German corporations have millions invested there and the Gaddafi regime played a central role in the exclusion of the poverty-stricken asylum seekers who want to enter the EU.

Germany’s very close relations and collaboration with Gaddafi government has been based on a long tradition. About a year ago, the Foreign office published the following statement: "The political relationship between Libya and Germany has been cemented. A consolidation payment made by Libya to the German victims of the assassination attempt on the Berlin nightclub ‘La Belle’ in 1986."

Immediately after Gaddafi signed compensation agreement back in September 2004, then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, of The Social Democratic Party, SPD, set of for Tripoli and introduced a new stage in economic collaboration. Since then, there has been the strong cultivation of an annual German-Libyan business gathering and German participation in the Tripoli International Fair at the beginning of each April.

Libya is Germany’s third most important supplier of crude oil and provides approximately 11 percent of its total demand. As a purchaser of Libyan crude oil, Germany takes second place only to Italy. Libya enjoys a heavy excess of funds from its income from the oil industry. In the past, the oil industry contributed over 16.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, enabling considerable investments in large infrastructure projects in which German corporation are heavily involved.

Siemens, for example, has played an important role in the construction of the huge water supply project, the "Great Man-Made River." Siemens has been involved in biggest provision of drinking water in the world. All in all, Germany was able to increase their exports to Libya significantly —by around some 20 percent back in 2009.

BASF a subsidiary of Wintershall has been active in Libya since 1958 and at this point currently operates oil fields in the Libyan Desert. According to its own accounts, its capital expenditure exceeds $2 billion. As such, it is the biggest foreign producer of oil in Libya. The oil and gas subsidiary of Dea of the Essen Corporation of the largest detected crude oil reserve in Africa and is one of the most important suppliers of both oil and gas to Europe.

Bilfinger Berger the German construction and service that builds Libyan motorways and they carry out the engineer work for a large gas turbine power station in the industrial town of Zawia, 32 miles from Tripoli the capital. The contract was for laying the foundation work for the installation of generators and turbines for the cooling tower and water tanks.

Back in April 2009, the German newspapers Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ran a long article about the efforts of the then-Minister of Economics Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg to obtain a share "of the Libyan economic wonder" for Germany. "Even in the crisis," read the article, "there is more money in Libya and, in the meantime the intention to use it for the benefit of the country—if only to stabilize the relationships between the existing power groups."

Libya has been striving for a renewal of the entire infrastructure, the building of schools and hospitals and rapid industrialization of the country, explained the article. Foreign investments and consequent expertise would therefore be "highly welcome—so long as everything remains under the control of Gaddafi clan."

France and Italy were also competing aggressively for business opportunities.

The German alliance with the Libyan government also has existed in matters of internal security and the military armament. According to German press reports, there were security-political partnerships going back to the 1960s. Between 1965 to 1983, Libyan soldier were trained by the Federal Armed Forces, while Libyan police officers taking courses arranged by the Federal Criminal Police Office.

Following the formal lifting of UN sanctions back in September of 2003, Germany had intensified its training of the Libyan police and army. On a number of occasions, members of the Gaddafi ethnic group asked the German government for help with the training of the Libyan police force.

While such open cooperation was "officially" cast off and discarded but, in fact was stepped up behind the scenes. For example back in April 2008 the German magazine, the Berliner Zeitung goes to explain that a German private security company were instructing some hundreds of Libyan officers and officers from Gaddafi’s personal security force in close combat, sniper shooting, mine laying, urban warfare and how to arrest suspects. These Special Forces were used in the protection of Libyan security and they were also used in the revulsion of refugees.

This crisis may set the stage in a number of years to World War IV over resources.

For the people of Libya, North Africa, and the Middle East, history is on their side, but, not time.

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