Collapse of a Partner Regime (I)


TRIPOLIS/BERLIN (Own report) - Berlin and the EU are reacting to the massacres of demonstrators in Libya with new measures to ward off refugees. While a steady flow of new reports of Libya's repressive forces' bloody exactions against the protesters are reaching the public, Brussels has given its EU's anti-refugee agency, Frontex, orders to ward off the up to 750,000 people expected to flee Libya. Until now the warding off of migrants has been one of the main areas of cooperation between the EU and the al-Gaddafi regime that seems to be currently collapsing in a murderous struggle to remain in power. Berlin will be losing a partner that has not only been one of the Federal Republic of Germany's most reliable oil suppliers, but over the past few years has also proven to be an efficient assistant to sealing off Europe from undesirable migrants. Libya's repressive forces, which have often let their sadism run wild on migrants - not excluding murder - had been trained and armed with German help. Both the methods of combat and the supplied arms were also available for the suppression of protests.

With Frontex against Refugees

While the bloodletting that the al-Gaddafi regime is using to remain in power, is still going on, the EU is, itself, preparing to ward off the refugees seeking to flee Libya. According to reports, Brussels has ordered the Frontex agency to prepare appropriate measures. Frontex is already engaged in preventing refugees from Tunisia from entering the EU. It is expected that up to 750,000 people could seek to reach Europe from Libya, according to circles close to the European Commission [1] - migrants from countries south of the Sahara, but also Libyans fleeing the onslaught. According to reports, Frontex is preparing a plan, obligating all 27 EU member countries - including Germany - to work together.

Brutal Repression

The violent character of the al-Gaddafi regime, as evidenced by the current massacres, has been known for a long time, not least of all by how Libyan repressive forces have been handling South-Saharan African refugees fleeing poverty in their countries. For years, human rights organizations and journalists have regularly reported on the brutal treatment migrants have been subjected to in Libya, how they had been routinely captured, cooped up in containers by the hundreds and taken to desert camps, where they are locked in totally overfilled cells - often with half a cubic-meter space per person - with insufficient food.[2] Credible sources have reported on repeated instances of physical torture and murder during captivity in refugee camps.[3] The fact that undesired migrants are occasionally abandoned in deserted areas of the Sahara at the country's borders - without means of survival or food - comes as close to murder, as the Libyan coast guard's occasional shooting at refugee boats. Last fall, the latter practice made the news because it was an Italian fishing boat that was mistakenly shot at.[4] Human rights organizations' complaints of arbitrary Libyan arrests, torture and disappearances of members of the opposition, help round off the picture of what is already known world-wide of that country's repressive forces.

Support for the Military

In spite of this knowledge, the Federal Republic of Germany has repeatedly supported the Libyan police and military. There had been both official and unofficial cooperation already back in the 1960s. From 1965 - 1983, Libyan soldiers were being trained by the West German Bundeswehr and in the 1970s, Libyan police took courses at the office of the German Federal Criminal Investigation (BKA). Beyond these highly official forms of cooperation, Libyan officers, non-commissioned officers and entire teams were receiving training allegedly on a private basis from former employees of German repressive institutions. The German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) was always the mediator for these alleged private German experts with the Libyan services.[5]

Special Units

The West German-Libyan cooperation in repression was officially interrupted in the 1980s, when Washington and Bonn were in conflict with Tripoli because of its opposition to the West. Libya's change of course in the late 1990s led to a renewal of cooperation that, with the lifting of UN sanctions in September 2003, increased significantly,[6] permitting the renewal of cooperation in the fields of repression. The al-Gaddafi clan made several demands to the West German government for support in developing Libya's police. Officially the demands were denied, unofficially ways were found to satisfy them. Around 30 former German policemen were dispatched to Tripoli by a private German security company. The group included former members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (GSG-9) commandos, who trained their Libyan colleagues in "tactical lines of operation in raiding buildings", boarding ships and in descending from helicopters, among other things. Both the BND and the foreign ministry were kept informed of these activities.[7]

Arms Exports

According to reports, the German-Libyan training cooperation lasted from 2005 to at least 2008. In 2006 the German interior ministry even sent a delegation to Tripoli, which included representatives of the German Criminal Investigation Agency, to officially reignite the partnership in repression. Their initiative was unsuccessful because Libya was no longer interested. All the same, combat material was delivered - completely on the record. Over the past three years alone, Libya has received more than 80 million Euros in license required German exports - mainly communications equipment and helicopters, such as those being used by the military to repress the demonstrators.

Oil Supplier

Germany's close cooperation with the al-Gaddafi regime has a double context. The first is that Libya is one of Germany's primary oil suppliers. It is also thanks to the country's forces of repression that up to just recently, these now jeopardized oil exports and the German investments in this sector were secure against possible social resistance. Wintershall, a BASF subsidiary, has been active in Libya since 1958 and according to its own reports, with an investment volume of US $2 billion, is the largest foreign oil producer in Libya.[8] The RWE subsidiary Dea, has concessions for oil and gas production on a 40,000 km² area of Libyan territory. Libya's current account surpluses based on oil annuity - most recently accounting for 16% of Libya's GNP - has enabled the country to make substantial investments in gigantic infrastructure projects, awakening covetous desires in German companies. For example, Siemens is a key participant in the gigantic "Great Man-Made River" drinking water supply project, the largest of its kind in the world.[9] German companies have been able to significantly increase their exports to Libya - by approx. 23 percent in 2009 - and beat back their rivals. In addition, German companies have found it highly advantageous that, over the past few years, the al-Gaddafi regime has greatly enhanced the general conditions for foreign investments. Until a few days ago, Berlin, accordingly, had been explicit in its support for this regime.

Partner in Warding Off Migrants

The second context is that Libya plays an important role in German plans for warding off migrants. Berlin publicly initiated cooperation in this domain back in 2004. Otto Schily, SPD, Germany's interior minister at the time, attracted public attention with his announcement of the construction of refugee camps in the Libyan desert.[10] The most recent measures of this cooperation, which is often transacted through Italy, is an anti-migration pact concluded last fall between the EU and Libya. Brussels has agreed to earmark 50 million Euros over the next three years for Tripoli to fortify its national borders and expand the refugee camps.[11] This accord, which the EU Commission called a "milestone in the struggle against illegal immigration", was made in full consciousness of the criminal means being used by Libyan repressive forces, whose brutality has more than clearly been demonstrated in the recent massacres of the protesters.

[1] EU bracing for exodus of asylum seekers; 22.02.2011
[2] see also Weniger Flüchtlinge, mehr Gas and Wie Hunde
[3] Entschließung des Europäischen Parlaments zu den Hinrichtungen in Libyen vom 16. Juni 2010
[4] see also Erfüllungsgehilfen
[5] Peter F. Müller, Michael Mueller, Erich Schmidt-Eenboom: Gegen Freund und Feind. Der BND: Geheime Politik und schmutzige Geschäfte, Reinbek 2002
[6] see also Streit um Öl and Tragende Säule
[7] see also Wiederbeginn
[8] Wintershall in Libyen;
[9] Libyen;
[10] see also Festung and Schilys Schleuser
[11] see also Erfüllungsgehilfen