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Source: The Progressive

Dressed in military fatigues and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, the Zintan militia surrounded the building in Tripoli and entered without a fight. They weren’t seizing the last remaining Qaddafi stronghold; they were taking an oil company CEO hostage. The militiamen were demanding money for protecting the CEO’s oil fields during Libya’s civil war.

There was only one problem. The company had already paid $600,000 for those services and wasn’t about to pay again.

A month earlier, a different armed group seized the offices of the same company demanding protection money. Employees didn’t know which militia carried out that raid.

“The police are useless,” one middle-level company employee told me. “There’s a new Libyan mafia.”

Forty-five miles away from the foreign oil company offices, the Zawiya refinery was producing gasoline and other fuels at 102 percent of capacity. Because each faction during the civil war figured it would be the eventual winner, much of the country’s oil infrastructure has remained intact. Overall oil production hit 1.5 million barrels per day in May, close to the 1.77 million mark under Qaddafi. British Petroleum announced it will resume exploration. France, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, and the United States are getting their crude, while near chaos reigns in the rest of the country.

The Western-backed National Transition Council (NTC) operates a weak and ineffective government. Some sixty militias are the real power centers. Unable to suppress the militias, the council uses some as auxiliary forces to be called out in time of emergency. Others are signing up among the various political parties, a dangerous trend.

Nevertheless, the Obama Administration sees Libya as a great success for its policy of “humanitarian intervention.” NATO removed a dictator hostile to the United States, the argument goes, without the death of any U.S. soldiers and with the cost to the Pentagon of a mere $1.1 billion. (The costs incurred by the CIA, State Department, and other government agencies have never been made public.)

   

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