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The United States-NATO invasion of Libya was launched a decade ago this month, as the Western powers engineered the ousting of the country’s leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who had been in power for more than 40 years.
A central reason behind this military assault, which began on 19 March 2011, was to reinforce Western control over Libya’s oil wells. Libya has long held the largest oil reserves in Africa, and it contains greater quantities of this resource than either the superpowers of America or China.
The quality of Libya’s oil is particularly high and its cost low; 92% of the nation’s revenue came from trading in it. What’s more, Western oil specialists believe it likely that Libya possesses large volumes of undiscovered oil deposits, on top of the ample sources which it already has. With good reason, much of Libya remains unexplored. The country consists mostly of a treeless, barren landscape which stretches out for hundreds of miles over the horizon. Libya is a highly complex nation, a semi-tribal society with an array of beliefs, loyalties and kinship.
As part of the Middle East and North African countries (MENA), the significance of Libya becomes apparent. Former US president Dwight Eisenhower called the Middle East “the most strategically important area of the world”, mainly due to its enormous oil sources. Libya has a broad coastline resting on the Mediterranean Sea, a body of water critical to the exportation of raw materials for the world market.
Fears over radical nationalism prevailed also regarding Libya. The US-NATO attack involved the elimination of the independent nationalist threat from Libya; both through the removal of Gaddafi, and by nipping the Arab Spring uprising in the bud, while encouraging a civil war. It was no coincidence, just as Libya was being bombarded by NATO warplanes, that the Arab Spring protests had been taking off in parts of North Africa and the Middle East.
Before the US-NATO intervention started, political leaders such as Fidel Castro of Cuba wrote of the Americans on 9 March 2011,
“The empire is now attempting to turn events around to what Gaddafi has done or not done,