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The way the West deals with the Libyan President is disgusting. Whilst Western leaders followed one another to insist upon, and emphasize the necessity and importance of President Mubarak stepping down instantly, the same leaders have remained completely silent with regards to Colonel Gaddafi, or at most, have issued vague and meaningless statements through secondary officials in their departments. Of course, the secret lies in the fact that Tunisia and Egypt are not oil producing countries, unlike Libya, where the “quality” of oil exports are among the best in the world. This is because the refining process of Libyan oil is less expensive, as the oil is of a superior quality, and thus it can adequately meet the basic needs of nearby European states.

Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa, followed by Algeria and Nigeria. In 2011, Libya’s confirmed oil reserves were estimated at 46.4 billion barrels. Of this amount, 80 percent is located in the strategic Sirte region. Libya produces 1.65 million barrels of oil per day – as permitted by its OPEC quota – 1.5 million barrels of which are exported, because domestic consumption is small and limited. European markets, namely Italy, Germany, France and Spain, consume 80 percent of Libya’s exports, whilst the US demand for Libyan oil has increased to 71,000 barrels a day.

However, the Libyan economic pie was not only significant in size, but also diverse. The Libyan Investment Authority directed its finance towards a variety of investments; including Italian car manufacturing firms, shares in Dutch and Belgium banks, and Italian football clubs. This is in addition to placing other bank investments under “different” names, yet all known to be serving the interests of the Libyan regime.

Of course, the main attraction of the Libyan pie were the oil exploration contracts, which were granted to major Western companies, mainly American, British, French and Italian. They were all granted more favorable terms and privileges than, for instance, the Russian, Chinese, Turkish and Korean companies. Everybody was “courting” the regime, and “turning a blind eye” to the activities of Gaddafi and his family. Even a respectful British university, which granted Gaddafi’s son with a PhD degree and accepted a £1.5 million “donation” from Libya, now finds itself in an awkward situation whereby it has had to return the remainder of the grant, and justify its activities. Yet this was all previously overlooked, with all attention focused on Libya’s alluring financial pie.

Even giant firms from Korea were forced to “accept” Gaddafi’s conduct and economic “delirium”, and feign conviction of the possibility of digging a river, similar to the Nile, crossing the Libyan Desert from the south to the north. This illusionary and imaginary project was named the “Great Industrial River”, in which hundreds of millions of dollars of Libyan wealth were squandered, as a result of Gaddafi’s limitless delirium. Everybody played a part in sponsoring Gaddafi, and transforming him into the monster he is today, who kills his own people. Everybody knew he was an odd character, but people endured his disposition, for financial benefits. This proves to the world that there is in fact no problem in mixing blood with oil.

The world was once shocked at the blood being shed in the diamond trade, whereby diamond revenues would be used to finance conflicts and killings. It is for this reason that the world issued the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, to put an end to such practices. Today, the world must put a stop to the exploitation of oil for political gains.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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