There Is No Plan

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Egypt and Libya – A Grand Alliance in the Making?

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The Arab Spring is giving way to a rather uncertain winter. In Egypt, the Brotherhood is bubbling, the Army is busy containing, and the people are getting restless for the change promised by the departure and trial of Mubarak. In next door Libya, the echo of the bullet that liberated the rebels from the world’s most bizarre pariah of a dictator will soon give way to reality. A fractious and bloody civil war is almost certain to ensue in this colonial afterthought of a country, that’s never known anything but a lunatic totalitarianism.

In the vacuum of Gaddafi’s death the tribal, factional power-grab will be a nasty affair, made worse by the release of a powerful Islamist faction, the rise of tribal and city militias, a split between East and west, deep distrust of collaborators, a thirst for revenge, a big pot of black gold, and a strategic position just to the south of very vulnerable Southern Europe. NATO is gone in a few days, and the Libyans will be left to their own devices, their only support being the stirring and useless rhetoric of democratic idealism. They badly need a national army but won’t get one for decades. Without a cohesive national force to rely on, securing Western oilfields will be tough sledding and the Islamists will take full advantage of that weakness to impoverish and destabilize Libya, so Allah can pick up the pieces and give succor to a disheveled and desperate population.

Meanwhile, links between heavily armed Islamists in Libya, now free of Gaddafi’s yolk, and the Bedouin and fringe Islamists in Egypt and Sinai, will add to the headaches of an Egyptian Army that dreams of making money and playing with its armored American toys while the people get one wall away from lynching six Israeli security officials in their embassy and causing all out war. The Army would like a democracy that they can control, but worry that won’t be possible. They’d like to remove the State of Emergency Egypt has been laboring under for decades but dare not loosen their grip, especially now the Coptics are readying their own protective militias against the bubbling Islamic fundamentalism.

So what is a self-respecting Supreme Military Council to do protect itself from the gnawing threat of having to fire on its own masses? What can prevent a conflagration that will force the Egyptian Army to watch as tourists avoid the place like the plague, and foreign aid dwindles, sending Egypt into a turmoil that could easily make it the next Pakistan?

The answer is simple. Get control of Libyan Oil.

Libya’s oil is plentiful, high quality, and available.  Invading your neighbor is kind of outre these days, so it has to be something a little – well – smarter. One possibility is for the Egyptian Army to offer itself as the ‘stopgap’ security force protecting Libyan oil from ‘domestic and foreign threats’ until the Libyans raise their own army. Of course, that will never happen, so the Egyptians will be there – with the full support of the oil-thirsty West – for years, decades perhaps. In that time, the Egyptians could be paid for Libyan stability in oil, shoring up Cairo’s foreign trade accounts and enabling it to pay for handouts to the mob to stop them rebelling against Egypt’s military rulers. It’s a win-win-win for everyone. The Libyan National Transitional Council gets protection for its only asset, and the ability to protect itself against Islamism with a thoroughly Arab solution. The Egyptians get oil on the cheap to buy-off their mob and shore up their sagging economy, get to protect themselves from Libyan Islamist incursions by going after the bad guys before they hit Egyptian soil, protecting Egyptian security and Tourism. And as for the West, they get a security force to protect the Libyan oil supply, stabilize world prices during a very soft economic patch, and help maintain stability in North Africa, which will also help Tunisia, and even Morocco.

It’s almost certain that none of this will come to pass, because there almost never is a plan, but it’s fun to conjecture that this could be a rather interesting solution to a problem that’s going to be a thorn in America and Europe’s side for many years to come.

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Written by coolrebel

October 22, 2011 at 11:14 am

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