The Collapse of a Partner Regime (II)

TRIPOLI/BERLIN | | libyen

TRIPOLI/BERLIN (Own report) - German warships are on course to Libya. As was confirmed by the German defense ministry, a combat unit logistical support vessel and two frigates have been dispatched to the coastal waters of civil war torn Libya. Officially the mission is the repatriation of German citizens. But in reality, the presence of German war ships along the Libyan shoreline is part of a growing western naval presence, poised to be used in various military measures. Being discussed is the establishment of a no-flight zone, to ground the Libyan air force, to the extent that it is still under the command of the al-Gaddafi clan, and as a means of assisting the regime's opponents. More extensive operations are not excluded. The German warships provide a relatively flexible base of operations for the various mission scenarios. Washington is also considering dispatching a US aircraft carrier to the area. From the German point of view, there is much at jeopardy in Libya. For decades, Libya has been one of Germany's most important oil suppliers. German firms have invested billions in that country. In addition, with the loss of the al-Gaddafi regime, Berlin is losing a central partner in the EU's hermetization policy against poverty-fleeing refugees.

Troops at the Scene

As the German defense ministry has confirmed, several German warships have been dispatched to Libyan waters already on Wednesday. The combat unite logistical support vessel "Berlin" along with the frigates "Brandenburg" and "Rheinland-Pfalz", which sailed from Wilhelmshaven, February 15, heading toward the Mediterranean on a regular training cruise, have now set sail for the coastal waters of Libya, with about 600 sailors on board. Officially, the mission is to evacuate German citizens from Libya. Until now, there has been a helicopter - type Sea King - on hand, with a second due soon to arrive. Earlier the German air force had dispatched two Transalls to the civil war riddled country, which evacuated several hundred Germans. According to reports, the evacuation had been accompanied by armed members of the German Bundeswehr special forces, possibly the Bundeswehr's "KSK" special forces commandos.[1] The air force is standing ready in Malta. Observers report that the frigate "Lübeck", the mine-sweeper "Datteln" and the reconnaissance ship "Oker" are currently in the Mediterranean within the framework of NATO. All three ships could be called in for reinforcement, if necessary.

Combat Mission: "Possible"

Using the citizens' repatriation pretext, several other European countries are positioning their warships off the Libyan coast. Italy has sent a destroyer and two landing craft, Great Britain and Greece a frigate each. Britain is also considering sending planes of the Royal Air Force. Turkey is evacuating its citizens with civilian ferries escorted by three frigates. US aircraft carriers may join the group. Even India seeks to send two warships to join the naval deployment off the Libyan coast. Although NATO's general secretary declared yesterday that the western war alliance is currently planning no intervention, in the EU, military interventions are not being excluded. A military intervention is, in fact, "one of the possibilities" being considered, according to the European External Action Service (EEAS).[2]

Combat Options

Several options are on the table for possible military interventions. One is comprised of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. This would ground the country's air force - to the extent that it is still being commanded by the al-Gaddafi clan - which in turn would free the opponents of the collapsing regime from a serious disadvantage. From the West's perspective, this promises the advantage of not having to overexert their own military capacities - after all they are quite heavily tied down in Afghanistan and other current theaters of combat. The main German media organs are calling for a comprehensive combat mission for Libya, such as in the 1992 intervention in Somalia, approved by the United Nations - and a failure.[3] Not least among the considerations is to have the Egyptian - and possibly even the Tunisian - militaries march into Libya, to avoid sending western ground forces to the slaughter. At least in the Egyptian democracy movement, there are many partisans to this concept, which would also strengthen the position of the Egyptian military [4] - and thereby simultaneously prevent the West from losing its control over Egypt.

Flexible Base at Sea

The naval vessels Berlin has sent off the coast of Libya provide the German government with a flexible military starting point. Included in the combat strategies, constituting a clear point of focus in the Bundeswehr's futuristic plans, are sea-based operations against land-based targets. The hub of the planned combat units is the so-called combat unit logistical support vessel, a group of logistical supply platforms insuring maintenance of the supply lines for combat units in the field.[5] In the entourage are frigates, responsible for firepower against land-based targets and maritime combat units that can launch special forces commando actions at will. The "base at sea" has the advantage of being less vulnerable than a land-based military facility. Finally the objective of this concept is "to use the sea as a base, to create the desired results in the targeted country" explained the former Naval Inspector Wolfgang Nolting back in 2006.[6] The possible measures range from a "demonstrative presence and surveillance," the "support of allied land-based forces" to "direct armed engagement."

German Interests

Above all, this military flexibility is useful in light of German interests in Libya that Berlin considers worth protecting. For a long time, Libya has been the most important non-European oil supplier of the Federal Republic of Germany and only last year fell to second place behind Kazakhstan. The BASF subsidiary Wintershall, with an investment volume of US $2 billion, is the largest foreign oil producer in Libya. RWE has gigantic concessions for the production of oil and gas. Germany is seeking to protect all this - while Muammar al-Gaddafi has allegedly threatened to possibly blow up the oil wells and pipelines.[7] In addition, in their collectivity, the warships that have now been deployed off the coast of Libya are in a position to dissuade refugees from attempting to cross the Mediterranean, thereby continuing the hermetization of the West European centers of prosperity from undesired migrants. The presence of German warships is seen in Berlin as appropriate for laying a foundation for imposing German interests. Other measures will follow.

Please read our article The Collapse of a Partner Regime on the bloody conflict in Libya.

[1] Evakuierung läuft - Länder fliegen Bürger aus; www.tagesschau.de 23.02.2011
[2] EU schließt Militäreinsatz nicht aus; www.faz.net 24.02.2011
[3] Wir sind den Libyern einen Militäreinsatz schuldig; www.welt.de 23.02.2011
[4] see also Guarantor of Stability (I), Guarantor of Stability (II) and The Turkish Model
[5], [6] see also "Einsatzgruppen" and Seekrieger (II)
[7] Gaddafi's Next Move: Sabotage Oil and Sow Chaos?; www.time.com 22.02.2011