Taking the bait

In December 2003, Libya opened up its chemical and nuclear facilities to inspectors, destroyed arms, and agreed to repay $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the Lockerbie bombings. The Bush administration touted the event as the first of many fruits of their tough stance on regimes supporting terrorism. “Libya understood that America and ...

608999_qaddafi.thumbnail5.jpg
608999_qaddafi.thumbnail5.jpg

In December 2003, Libya opened up its chemical and nuclear facilities to inspectors, destroyed arms, and agreed to repay $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the Lockerbie bombings. The Bush administration touted the event as the first of many fruits of their tough stance on regimes supporting terrorism. “Libya understood that America and others will enforce doctrine, and the world is better for it,” said President Bush in 2004. But Col. Qaddafi's record on reform is a mixed one at best, and his beau geste increasingly seems to have been driven more by economic calculations (and his son) than by respect, or fear of the United States. After all, in 2003 Qaddafi got –- along with lavish praise -- an end to U.S. and EU sanctions and the unfreezing of assets in the United States worth some $1.3 billion. More importantly, since Qaddafi's opening, Libyan oil has suddenly become fair game: today, Power and Interest News reports that oil companies are breaking their backs in order to secure agreements on oil exploration:

“Fifty companies lined up for 23 of 26 exploration blocks offered -- each required large signing bonuses to be paid to Tripoli and a relatively small portion of future oil production to be taken by the winning firm. The Japan Petroleum Exploration Company went as low as to only take a 6.8 percent stake in future production rights from its block. ExxonMobil and China National Petroleum Corporation faired somewhat better with 28 percent stakes. Libya is also expected to demand contributions to its downstream refining capacity from foreign investors, and it is likely to see its request granted.”

Recently, the U.S. Department of State updated its list of countries sponsoring terrorism. Libya? Still there.

In December 2003, Libya opened up its chemical and nuclear facilities to inspectors, destroyed arms, and agreed to repay $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the Lockerbie bombings. The Bush administration touted the event as the first of many fruits of their tough stance on regimes supporting terrorism. “Libya understood that America and others will enforce doctrine, and the world is better for it,” said President Bush in 2004.
 
But Col. Qaddafi’s record on reform is a mixed one at best, and his beau geste increasingly seems to have been driven more by economic calculations (and his son) than by respect, or fear of the United States. After all, in 2003 Qaddafi got –- along with lavish praise — an end to U.S. and EU sanctions and the unfreezing of assets in the United States worth some $1.3 billion. More importantly, since Qaddafi’s opening, Libyan oil has suddenly become fair game: today, Power and Interest News reports that oil companies are breaking their backs in order to secure agreements on oil exploration:

“Fifty companies lined up for 23 of 26 exploration blocks offered — each required large signing bonuses to be paid to Tripoli and a relatively small portion of future oil production to be taken by the winning firm. The Japan Petroleum Exploration Company went as low as to only take a 6.8 percent stake in future production rights from its block. ExxonMobil and China National Petroleum Corporation faired somewhat better with 28 percent stakes. Libya is also expected to demand contributions to its downstream refining capacity from foreign investors, and it is likely to see its request granted.”

Recently, the U.S. Department of State updated its list of countries sponsoring terrorism. Libya? Still there.

Davide Berretta is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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