And Now: BP Plans Deep-Water Drilling Off Libya

BP is to begin deep-water drilling off Libya, despite environmental concerns following the Gulf of Mexico spill and an international row over the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

david-cameron-libya
BP drilling in Libya comes amid international concerns about Lockerbie (AP)

The plans, reported in the Financial Times, come in the shadow of controversy, as the oil giant faces new scrutiny of its 2007 deal to acquire gas and oil fields off the Libyan coast at a cost of $900 million.

At a depth of more than 1700 metres below sea level, the new site in Libya’s Gulf of Sirte will be 200 metres deeper than the Gulf of Mexico well that exploded on April 20, killing 11 oil workers and causing immeasurable environmental damage.

The 2007 agreement has since come under fire from American politicians, after BP revealed that it lobbied the UK government over a prisoner transfer agreement between Britain and Libya.

Despite increased pressure from senior officials, including US President Barack Obama, the UK oil group has vigorously denied any involvement in the release of Libyan terrorist Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, after the Lockerbie bomber was freed by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds.

The issue was raised last week when British Prime Minister David Cameron met President Obama for talks in Washington. Mr Cameron has indicated there could be an inquiry into the release.

BP maintains it was “not involved in any discussions with the UK government or the Scottish government about the release of Mr al-Megrahi”.

A US senator has begged Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, to assist a hearing into the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

In a letter, Frank Lautenberg said he was “pleading” with the Scottish government to reconsider its decision not to send officials to a hearing into the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

The company’s Chief Executive, Tony Hayward, is expected to appear before US Senators on Thursday to deny the claims.

A spokesman for BP confirmed the Libya drilling, saying: “Drilling at the new site will start within a few weeks”.

Read moreAnd Now: BP Plans Deep-Water Drilling Off Libya

Rich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply

  • States and companies target developing nations
  • Small farmers at risk from industrial-scale deals

Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of “neo-colonialism”, with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.

Rising food prices have already set off a second “scramble for Africa”. This week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce. Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen dependence on imports.

“These deals can be purely commercial ventures on one level, but sitting behind it is often a food security imperative backed by a government,” said Carl Atkin, a consultant at Bidwells Agribusiness, a Cambridge firm helping to arrange some of the big international land deals.

Read moreRich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply

Libya ‘ready to host Russian naval base’

MOSCOW, October 31 (RIA Novosti) – Libya is willing to host a Russian naval base as a means of security against any possible U.S. attack, a Russian business daily said on Friday.

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi will pay an official visit to Russia at the invitation of President Dmitry Medvedev from October 31 to November 2.

The Kommersant newspaper cited a source close to the preparations for the visit as saying that the Libyan leader was planning to raise the naval base issue during talks with the Russian leadership.

“The Libyan leader believes that a Russian military presence in the country would prevent possible attacks by the United States, which despite numerous Libyan attempts to amend bilateral relations is not in a hurry to embrace Colonel Qaddafi,” the paper said.

Read moreLibya ‘ready to host Russian naval base’

Russia test-fires Topol missile, Georgia desperately cries for NATO membership

Russia’s strategic and space troops successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile Topol (RS12M).

The missile is designed to avoid detection by anti-missile defense systems. The launch was performed at 2:36 p.m. Moscow time from Plesetsk space port, RIA Novosti reports.

The missile successfully covered the distance of almost 6,000 kilometers and hit a hypothetical target on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Read moreRussia test-fires Topol missile, Georgia desperately cries for NATO membership

Russia’s new Great Game


Vladimir Putin (left), then the president of Russia, met with Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, in April to discuss arms, energy and debt. AFP

Employing strategies redolent of a new Great Game, Russia has stepped up its diplomatic and trade activities in the Middle East and North Africa in a bid to enhance its geopolitical clout and gain access to, and at least partial control over, the region’s oil and gas reserves.

Among the former global superpower’s tactics: linking arms deals and debt-forgiveness to energy deals.

The strategy has been most apparent in former client states of the ­Soviet Union including Libya, Iraq and Syria, although by no means limited to such countries. Moreover, Moscow has not shied away from courting the authoritarian regimes of countries such as Iran, Syria and Libya that are or have been shunned by the US and other western governments.

Read moreRussia’s new Great Game

How Israel Is creating the war on Iran

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Jews in Palestine stirring up War

Shaul Mofaz, Israeli Minister of Defense:

“On the same US trip, Mr. Mofaz told a pro-Israeli lobby group that a nuclear Iran was “intolerable.” “The implicit message of his statements was that if the Iranian nuclear program is not stopped in the next number of months, Israel will have to take action of its own – perhaps even to attack – to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into Iranian hands,” analyst Amir Rappaport wrote in the Ma’ariv newspaper.” (Nicole Gaouette ‘Israel: Iran is now danger No. 1′); “In November, Israeli media reported that Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, on a trip to Washington, told US officials that “under no circumstances would Israel be able to abide by nuclear weapons in Iranian possession.”

” Israeli Minister of Defense, Shaul Mofaz, affirmed that in view of Teheran’s nuclear plans, Tel Aviv should “not count on diplomatic negotiations but prepare other solutions”.” (James Petras ‘Israel’s War Deadline: Iran in the Crosshairs’). A month later, “Israel’s defense minister hinted Saturday that the Jewish state is preparing for military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program, but said international diplomacy must be the first course of action. “Israel will not be able to accept an Iranian nuclear capability and it must have the capability to defend itself, with all that that implies, and this we are preparing,” Shaul Mofaz said.” (Talk of military action in Iran standoff’); “And Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz went further, speaking directly to Iran’s president: “I address you as someone who leads his country with an ideology of hate, terror, and anti-Semitism. I suggest you look at history and see what happened to others who tried to wipe out the Jewish people. … Israel is not prepared to accept the nuclear arming of Iran, and it must prepare to defend itself, with all that implies.” ” (Quoted in Patrick J Buchanan ‘Bush’s Dilemma: Iran vs. Israel’); “Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was asked whether Israel was ready to use military action if the Security Council proved unable to act against what Israel and the West believe is a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program. “My answer to this question is that the state of Israel has the right give all the security that is needed to the people in Israel. We have to defend ourselves,” Mofaz told Reuters after a meeting with his German counterpart Franz Josef Jung.” (Louis Charbonneau ‘Israel will have to Act on Iran if UN Can’t’).

Uzi Arad, director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy:

“Iran has a clandestine nuclear program that is very ambitious,” says Uzi Arad, director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy in Herzilya. “That country thinks big and fast and … poses a threat that is very real. Should it acquire nuclear weapons or even come close, it would completely alter the Middle East. It’s a very ominous threat.” (Nicole Gaouette ‘Israel: Iran is now danger No. 1′)

Meir Dagan, director of Mossad:

“Meir Dagan, director of Israel’s external intelligence agency, the Mossad, told a parliamentary committee this month that Iran posed an “existential threat” to Israel, according to the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. He reportedly assured committee members that Israel could deal with this threat.” (Nicole Gaouette ‘Israel: Iran is now danger No. 1′)

Read moreHow Israel Is creating the war on Iran

Oil Surges Above $140 to Record as Libya Warns of Output Cut

June 26 (Bloomberg) — Crude oil jumped above $140 a barrel to a record as Libya threatened to cut output, OPEC’s president said prices may reach $170 by the summer and the dollar weakened.

Libya may curb output because of a U.S. law that allows terror victims to seize assets of foreign governments as compensation. OPEC President Chakib Khelil said oil may surge on a European interest rate rise, France 24 reported. Oil, gold and copper climbed today as the dollar dropped because the Federal Reserve gave no signal of higher interest rates yesterday.

“The Libyan comments are helping send us higher,” said Brad Samples, commodity analyst for Summit Energy Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky. “The Libyans are responsible for only about 2 percent of production, but with supplies tight every missing barrel will have an impact.”

Crude oil for August delivery rose $5.09, or 3.8 percent, to $139.64 a barrel at 2:59 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a record settlement price. Futures touched $140.39 today, surpassing the previous intraday record of $139.89 reached on June 16.

Read moreOil Surges Above $140 to Record as Libya Warns of Output Cut

Pentagon Targeted Iran for Regime Change after 9/11

WASHINGTON, May 5 (IPS) – Three weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks, former U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld established an official military objective of not only removing the Saddam Hussein regime by force but overturning the regime in Iran, as well as in Syria and four other countries in the Middle East, according to a document quoted extensively in then Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith’s recently published account of the Iraq war decisions.

Feith’s account further indicates that this aggressive aim of remaking the map of the Middle East by military force and the threat of force was supported explicitly by the country’s top military leaders.

Feith’s book, “War and Decision”, released last month, provides excerpts of the paper Rumsfeld sent to President George W. Bush on Sep. 30, 2001 calling for the administration to focus not on taking down Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network but on the aim of establishing “new regimes” in a series of states by “aiding local peoples to rid themselves of terrorists and to free themselves of regimes that support terrorism.”

In quoting from that document, Feith deletes the names of all of the states to be targeted except Afghanistan, inserting the phrase “some other states” in brackets. In a facsimile of a page from a related Pentagon “campaign plan” document, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein regimes are listed as “state regimes” against which “plans and operations” might be mounted, but the names of four other states are blacked out “for security reasons”.

Gen. Wesley Clark, who commanded the NATO bombing campaign in the Kosovo War, recalls in his 2003 book “Winning Modern Wars” being told by a friend in the Pentagon in November 2001 that the list of states that Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz wanted to take down included Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia.

Clark writes that the list also included Lebanon. Feith reveals that Rumsfeld’s paper called for getting “Syria out of Lebanon” as a major goal of U.S. policy.

When this writer asked Feith after a recent public appearance which countries’ names were deleted from the documents, he cited security reasons for the deletion. But when he was asked which of the six regimes on the Clark list were included in the Rumsfeld paper, he replied, “All of them.”

Read morePentagon Targeted Iran for Regime Change after 9/11