By Frances Thomas, via Uruknet
September 1st is the anniversary of an event little known in the West. Today, 20 years on, the people who deserve to be celebrating it are instead enduring a war. Yet the achievement changed their lives greatly and merits recognition.
A tap was turned on in Libya. From an enormous ancient aquifer, deep below the Sahara Desert, fresh water began to flow north through 1,200km of pipeline to the coastal areas where 90 percent of Libyan people live, delivering around 1m cubic metres of pure water per day to the cities of Benghazi and Sirte.
Crowds gathered in the desert for the inaugural ceremony. Phase I of the largest civil engineering venture in the world, the Great Man-made River Project, had been completed.
It was during the 1953 search for new oilfields in southern Libya that the ancient water aquifers were first discovered: four huge basins with estimated capacities each ranging between 4,800 and 20,000 cubic kms. Yes, that’s cubic kilometres. There is so much water that Libya had recently also offered it to Egypt for their needs.
After the bloodless revolution of 1969, also on 1 September, the new government nationalised the oil companies and spent much of the oil revenues on harnessing the supply of fresh water from the desert aquifers by putting in hundreds of bore wells.
Muammar Gaddafi’s dream was to provide fresh water for everyone, and to turn the desert green, making Libya self-sufficient in food production. He established large farms and encouraged the people to move to the desert. But many preferred life on the coast and wouldn’t go.
So Gaddafi next conceived a plan to bring the water to the people. Feasibility studies were carried out by the Libyan government in the 1970s, and in 1983 the Great Manmade River Authority was set up. The project began the following year, fully funded by the Libyan government.
The almost $30bn cost to date has been without the need of any international loans. Nor has there been any charge on the people, who do not pay for their reticulated water, which is regarded in Libya to be a human right and therefore free.
GMMRP figures are staggering. The ‘rivers’ are a 4,000km network of 4m diameter lined concrete pipes, buried below the desert sands to prevent evaporation. There are 1,300 wells, 500,000 sections of pipe, 3,700km of haul roads, and 250m cubic metres of excavation. All material for the project was locally manufactured.
Large reservoirs provide storage, and pumping stations control the flow into the cities. The pipeline first reached Tripoli in 1996, and when Phase V is completed, the water will allow about 155,000 hectares of land to be cultivated.
To achieve all this, construction work was tendered and many overseas companies, including from the US, Korea, Turkey, Britain, Japan and Germany, took up contracts for each phase, and some have worked for decades in Libya.
The project has not been without problems, including faulty materials and financial difficulties within some of the contracting firms. Since the Nato air attacks on Libya began in March, most foreign nationals have returned home, including those employed on the hydro scheme. The final phase of the Great Man-made River Project is stalled.
Libyan people put their hearts into work on the GMMR from the beginning, and years ago took on most of the managerial and technical positions as their expert knowledge increased, with government policy encouraging their education, training and employment. They proudly call the GMMRP the “eighth wonder of the world”.
(UN Human Development Index figures for Libya since the beginning of Gaddafi’s leadership can be found here http://bit.ly/b4ItsI)
The project was so well recognised internationally that UNESCO in 1999 accepted Libya’s offer to fund an award named after it, the Great Man-Made River International Water Prize, the purpose of which is to “reward remarkable scientific research work on water usage in arid areas“. http://bit.ly/rnxiCf
Gaddafi was often ridiculed in the West for persevering with such an ambitious project. Pejorative terms such ‘pipe dream’, ‘pet project’ and ‘mad dog’ appeared in UK and US media. Despite a certain amount of awe for the enormity of the construction, the Great Man-made River was often dismissed as a ‘vanity project’ and then rarely mentioned in western media.
But the truth is that it’s a world-class water delivery system, and often visited by overseas engineers and planners wanting to learn from Libyan expertise in water transfer hydro-engineering.
On 22 July this year, four months into the air strikes to “protect civilians”, Nato forces hit the GMMR water supply pipeline. For good measure the following day, Nato destroyed the factory near Brega that produces the pipes to repair it, killing six guards there.
Nato air strikes on the electricity supply, as well as depriving civilians of electricity, mean that water pumping stations are no longer operating in areas even where the pipelines remain intact. Water supply for the 70 percent of the population who depend on the piped supply has been compromised with this damage to Libya’s vital infrastructure.
Oh, and by the way, attacking essential civilian infrastructure is a war crime.
Today in Sirte, which along with Benghazi was one of the first two cities to receive the water, there should be a celebration to mark the 20 years since fresh reticulated water first came to their city, and Gaddafi’s vision should be honoured.
But today Sirte is encircled by the rebels, and right now is being carpet bombed by Nato. The civilians are terrorised, and many families have tried to flee, but the rebels block all the exits. They kill the men, and send the women and children back into the city to be bombed. In the media the rebels are reported to have given Sirte until Saturday to surrender before they commence a full attack. But that’s not what’s happening really.
1 September 2011 will be remembered in history for Nato’s complicity in the massacre of the people of Sirte.
Back in 1991, at the gala opening of GMMRP Phase I, and maybe recalling the 1986 bombing of his home (which was carried out by US military on Reagan’s orders), Muammar Gaddafi spoke these words to the invited international dignitaries and assembled crowd:
“After this achievement, American threats against Libya will double … The United States will make excuses, (but) the real reason is to stop this achievement, to keep the people of Libya oppressed.”
His words were prophetic.
By Felicity Arbuthnot, via Global Research
5 April 2011
“America is not - and never will be - at war with Islam.” (President Barack Hussein Obama, Al-Azar University, Cairo, 4 June 2009)
George W Bush embarked on the casual snuffing out of uncounted, unique, human lives in majority muslim populations, chillingly called it a “crusade”. President Barack Hussein Nobel Obama did not go that far, he left that to the French Minister of the Interior, Claude Gueant who, on 21 March, praised President Nicholas Sarkozy for having: “headed the crusade”.
For the “change we can believe in” president, reducing another ancient land of eye-watering archeological gems, massive oil and water resources and a population of six million - little more than Scotland - it is, reportedly, a “turd sandwich”.
Humanity is not “at the crossroads”. It is on the Cross, scourged, nailed (in all senses) and utterly inconsequential, in face of murdering, marauding, looting Empire.
When President Obama “updated the American people on the international effort we have led in Libya” on 29 March, he stated that: “we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges” and referred to “our interests” being “at stake”. Reluctance would be a first. America’s bombing for “interests” would be an encylopaedia.
Colonel Gaddafi, had, of course, stated the president: “denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorised innocent people around the world”. Busy man. Heaven forbid ‘Nato’s’ blitzkrieg should send the occasional shiver down a spine.
However, interestingly, at the end of March, a report was due to be presented by the UN Human Rights Council leading to a resolution commending Libya’s progress in a wide aspect of human rights. Numerous quotes from UN diplomatic delegations of many countries commented. Citations included: “achieving a high school enrolment rate and improvements in the education of women“, Libya’s: “serious commitment to, and interaction with, the Human Rights Council … enhanced development of human rights … while respecting cultural and religious traditions“.
Also mentioned was: “ … establishment of the national independent institution entrusted with promoting human rights, which had many of the competencies set out in the Paris Principles“. The country had: “become party to many human rights conventions and had equipped itself with a number of institutions, national, governmental and non governmental tasked with promoting human rights …”
The country was commended: “for the progress made in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, namely universal primary education [and] firm commitment [to] health care“. There was praise for “cooperation with international organisations in combating human trafficking and corruption” and for cooperation with the International Organization for Migration.
“Progress in enjoyment of economic and social rights, including in the areas of education, health care, poverty reduction and social welfare” with “measures taken to promote transparency“, were also cited. Malaysia “Commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for being party to a significant number of international and regional human rights instruments.” Promotion “of the rights of persons with disabilities” and praise for “measures taken with regard to low income families” were cited.
In May 2010, Libya had also been voted on to the UN Human Rights Council by a veritable landslide, 155 of 192 UN General Assembly votes. As noted previously (i), Libya comes top in Africa on the Human Development Index, which measures longevity (the longest) infant mortality (the lowest) education, health services, well being. (ii)
All that said, before this publication is flooded with complaints about the writer’s naivety, ‘propagandist flights of fancy’ (an orchestrated old favourite) or whatever, some of the countries making positive recommendations regarding Libya did not have the most shining human rights records. But then the US, UK and Nato member countries pontificate from the high moral molehills of the mass graves of the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, overtly, and Yemen, Somalia and other countries, covertly. And of course there are Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, rendition flights and secret torture programmes and prisons across the globe for US/UK convenience. (iii)
Further, in a train wreck of factual inaccuracies in President Obama’s speech, a (possibly) Freudian slip crept in. “Benghazi”, he said, was “a city nearly the size of Charlotte” in danger of suffering “a massacre (staining) the conscience of the world”.
A quick check shows that Charlotte, North Carolina “has a major base of energy orientated organisations and has become known as ‘Charlotte, USA - The New Energy Capital’. In the region there are 240+ companies directly tied to the energy sector … Major players are AREVA, Babcock and Wilcox, Duke Energy, Electric Power Research Institute, Fluor, Metso Power, Piedemont Natural Gas, Siemens Energy, Shaw Group, Toshiba, URS Corp and Westinghouse.The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has a reputation in energy education and research and its ‘Energy Production and Infrastructure Center’ trains energy engineers and conducts research.” (Wikipedia)
Whilst many respected oil experts have argued that since so many western energy companies operate in Libya, this is not about oil, there are some points worth pondering. All companies operating in Libya must have Libyan partners, entitled to 35 percent of profits. (iv) Trading is via the Libyan Central Bank, in the Libyan Dinar, not US$. The Libyan Central Bank is also independently outside the IMF and the World Bank.
There are only five nations without a Rothschild model central bank: North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Cuba and Libya.
There were two others: Afghanistan and Iraq, but they were gobbled up by the international banking system within a heartbeat of the invasions.
“It has always been about gaining control of the central banking system in Libya. Oil is just a profitable side issue like every other state asset that is waiting in Libya to be privatised and sold off to multinational corporations like Bechtel, GE, and Goldman Sachs. Oil is important and it is certainly a target but it isn’t the driving force behind these global wars for profit. Banking is.” (v)
That said, as President Obama was busy being inaugurated, Colonel Gaddafi (January 2009) was mooting nationalising “US oil companies, as well of those of UK, Germany, Spain, Norway Canada and Italy”. “Oil should be owned by the state at this time, so we could better control prices by the increase or decrease in production”, stated the Colonel. (vi)
So how does the all tie together? Libya, in March, being praised by the majority of the UN for human rights progress across the board, to today being the latest, bombarded international pariah? A nation’s destruction enshrined in a UN resolution?
The answer lies in part with the Geneva based UN Watch. (vii) UN Watch is “a non-governmental organisation whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations“. With consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council, with ties to the UN Department of Public Information, “UN Watch is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee” (AJC).
Among those involved in UN Watch are Co-Chair, AJC’s David A Harris. Core values: “AJC has long believed that the development of a comprehensive US energy programme is essential to the economic and social well-being of our country.” AJC’s website is an exceptionally instructive listen and read. (viii)
Ambassador Alfred Moses, former US Ambassador to Romania, heads UN Watch. His company, Secure Energy’s mission: “Improving US energy security“, “Securing America’s energy future“. (ix)
Board Member Ruth Wedgwood is “an international law expert … at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) a former member of Donald Rumsfeld’s Defence Policy Board (formerly headed by Richard Perle.)“, closely associated with “a number of neo-conservative and rightist pro-Israeli groups - including Freedom House, UN Watch and Benador Associates - a neo-con dominated public relations firm“. She “has been a vocal advocate of the war on terror … strong defender of the Patriot Act and decision to invade Iraq“. (x)
Executive Director Hillel Neuer has served as law clerk to the Supreme Court of Israel, is a Graduate Fellow at the Shalem Center think tank and holds a host of law degrees. In addition to extensive human rights legal advocacies and testimonies, as associate in the international law firm of Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison llp (New York), “He was associate in the legal team that successfully represented Raytheon Company in various claims against Hughes Electronics Corporation.” Neuer was also instrumental in achieving victory for the California Public Utilitites Commission in: “various disputes with Pacific Gas and Electric Company“. (xi)
Speakers at events hosted by the company have included Hillary “I met the rebel leader in Paris” Clinton (xii) and Vernon Jordan, former political advisor to Bill “I would be inclined to arm the rebels” Clinton. (xiii)
UN Watch’s relentless campaign “to remove Libya from the Human Rights Council” began in May 2010, “working closely with Libyan dissident Mohamed Eljahmi“. (vii) Mr Eljahmi is “a Libyan/American human rights activist. He is a co-founder and former Communication Officer of American Libyan Freedom Alliance. ALFA was founded 2003 to help educate and inform US government and media about Libya. Mr Eljahmi actively educates and informs US government, national and international media and NGOs about Libyan affairs.” (xiv)
An aspect of especial ire for UN Watch has been Libya’s place on the five-member investigation by the Human Rights Council into the use of mercenaries. Given their woeful excesses from Blackwater’s (now Xe) shoot-ups to CACI’s man-management at Abu Ghraib (then there’s Paravant, an Xe subsiduary at Bagram; Guantanamo and KBR), it is a supreme irony that UN Watch’s cry of “foul” over Libya has won out, while the US’s place on the council is unsullied. (Libya was suspended from the Human Rights Council on 25 February this year.) And did Libya employ ‘black African mercenaries’, to fight the rebels? In the fog of disinformation, certainties are scarce, but it is a story which would seem to be unravelling.
Then there is the water. Gaddafi’s project to make Libya’s vast desert bloom has been dubbed by some “The eighth wonder of the world.” A succinct overview cites: “the large quantities of water in Libya deep beneath the desert … Libya’s Great Man-Made River Project. A project worth 33 billion dollars. The value of the small reservoirs is about 70,000,000,000,000 dollars.” (xv) When the project was announced in September 1991, London and Washington were reported to be “ballistic“. At a ceremony attended by Arab and African heads of state, foreign diplomats and delegations, including President Mubarak of Egypt, King Hassan of Morocco, Gaddafi called it a gift to the Third World. He also said: “American threats against Libya will double.” (xvi)
Looking at the all, it is impossible not to think the truth of an attack of over thirty nations on a country of six million is buried deeper than Libya’s aquifers. ‘Operation Odyssey Dawn’ was well named. An odyssey indeed. Odysseus’s tortured journey lasted ten years.
Libyan rebels in Benghazi said they have created a new national oil company to replace the corporation controlled by leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose assets were frozen by the United Nations Security Council.
The Transitional National Council released a statement announcing the decision made at a 19 March meeting to establish the “Libyan Oil Company as supervisory authority on oil production and policies in the country, based temporarily in Benghazi, and the appointment of an interim director general” of the company.
The council also said it “designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and the appointment of a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi“.
And of course, given Israel’s chronic water shortage, Libya’s abundant underground blessings, and the close geographical proximity of the two countries, there might be other regional advantages mooted in regime change.
vii. Full chronology of the Campaign against Libya: http://www.unwatch.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=bdKKISNqEmG&b=1316871&ct=9142899
See also: http://www.paulweiss.com/
ALFA, about which not a lot can be found: http://www.alfa-online.net/