Following recent news that the supremely organized Libyan rebels have established their own central bank and oil company (does anyone recall when rebels merely rebelled instead of immediately setting up an oil export infrastructure and a fiat counterfeiting authority... those were the days), we now learn that this impressively "impromptu" development may have actually been intended all along. From Reuters: "The United States on Monday gave a green light to sales of Libyan crude oil from rebel-held territory, giving a potential boost to forces battling Muammar Gaddafi. A U.S. Treasury Department official said Libyan
rebels would not be subject to U.S. sanctions if they avoid entities
linked to Gaddafi's regime, which would allow them to sell oil under
their control." And confirming just hos hypocritical any international embargo attempts are, here is the Un confirming that when it comes to determining international priorities, the only word that matters is the one that did not figure once in Obama's Libya speech yesterday: "There is no U.N. embargo on Libyan oil," a U.N.
Security Council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "The
rebels can sell oil. But they can't do it through the Libyan National
Oil Corporation."" And the kicker: according to the US NATO leader among those profiting from this latest move of US desperation is none other than Al Qaeda.
The rebels, who retook a number of oil fields and terminals in eastern Libya over the weekend and were advancing west toward Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, must first establish clear lines of control and payment systems that do not involve Libya's National Oil Corp, its central bank nor any other government entity, the official said.
No special permission would be needed from the Security Council's Libya sanctions committee, which oversees compliance with the sanctions, for the rebels to sell oil, envoys said.
The Treasury on February 25 banned U.S. transactions with Libya's state oil producer, the central bank and other state entities in an effort to cut off revenues to Gaddafi's regime, in line with sanctions imposed by the U.N. and European Union.
With the backing of Western air strikes, Libyan rebels have retaken the main oil terminal cities in eastern Libya, including Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Brega, Zueitina and Tobruk.
A senior Libyan rebel official said on Monday that rebels were in "active discussions" to have sanctions lifted on sales of oil from east Libyan fields.
Ali Tarhouni, who is in charge of the rebels' economic, financial and oil matters in Benghazi said the fields were capable of pumping 100,000 to 130,000 barrels per day of crude, and most of this would be exported because of low refining capacity in eastern Libya. Before the crisis began, Libya was producing about 1.6 million barrels per day.
"We hope they will be lifted for the liberated areas as quickly as possible," Tarhouni said of the sanctions. "Not with everybody, but with some countries."
While we will not comment on the apparent hypocrisy of this latest development by the light crude starved US administration (sorry Saudi Arabia, nobody buys your lies about excess capacity anymore - proof here), what we will comment on is that the next time Gaddafi's forces retake any and all oil fields currently in rebel hands, and pumping on behalf of the US, they will likely not receive a very friendly treatment. Especially since it now appears that K-Daf was actually spot on when he argued that Al Qaeda is reinforcing the rebels:
There is a good chance NATO pressure will encourage Libyan tyrant Moammar Gadhafi to leave power, the U.S. NATO commander told Congress Tuesday, but the opposition that could come in the Libyan leader's wake has "flickers" of al Qaeda.
While there is a wide range of possible outcomes in Libya, running from a static stalemate to Gadhafi cracking, there is a "more than reasonable" chance of Gadhafi leaving power, Adm. James Stavridis said before the Senate Armed Services Committee,
But potential "flickers" of al Qaeda and Hezbollah elements have been seen in intelligence regarding the Libyan opposition, which is poised to take power if Gadhafi leaves, Stavridis said. However, he added there is no evidence of a significant presence of al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. Stavridis is also the commander of U.S. European Command.
"The intelligence that I'm receiving at this point makes me feel that the leadership that I'm seeing are responsible men and women who are struggling against Col. Gadhafi," Stavridis added.
There is probably "a sprinkling of extremists to perhaps include al Qaeda" in Libya among the rebels, "but no one should think the opposition is being led by al Qaeda or one of its affiliates," the official said. Al Qaeda has had a presence in North Africa for years. It "wouldn't be surprising if small numbers -- a handful"-- of extremists or al Qaeda are in Libya.
Thus in one easy step, the administration appears to have lost all its prior animosity toward Al Qaeda (and after all September 11 was so long ago...), and is now bypassing international embargoes to deal directly with them.
What next: we get confirmation that Al Qaeda is also providing crystal meth to Libya's rebels?