Published on 27 Jul 2011

Hague’s Libya move less than it appears

Foreign Secretary William Hague (Getty)Is there less than meets the eye to William Hague’s statement on recognising the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Libya as the government?

It is “political recognition” but not legal recognition. So it doesn’t open the door for Britain to hand over the hundreds of millions of pounds worth of assets the Gaddafi regime has in this country to the NTC – though that has been the ardent wish of the Government for some time.

For now, all the  Attorney General feels comfortable authorising is the handing over of assets belonging to the oil company, Agoco, worth £91m to the Benghazi alternative government.

Are they sure that money will be spent by the NTC on civilian uses not arms (which would potentially put the UK in breach of UN resolutions)? Is the FCO happy for us to say it has “guarantees” that the money won’t go to arms? The answer came that they’d prefer us to talk about having had “conversations” with the NTC.

I mentioned before the critical importance Whitehall attaches to Gaddafi’s oil supply and the hopes there were when the pipeline to the main refinery serving Tripoli was severed. Since then, the MoD has been trying to keep an eye on the alternative supplies that Col Gaddafi may be trying to get his hands on.

Algeria seems to have had a bit of a spike in its fuel imports (suspicious) and on the road from Tunisia there seems to be a very high traffic of oil tankers. Anyway, there’s going to be a bit of a diplomatic effort to persuade Tunisia to stop this entrepreneurial activity I understand.

As one former FCO mandarin just told me, you will never stop people who live in desert lands like that getting supplies by road. The rebels, the UK Government and allies still require an uprising in Tripoli and there is no sign of such a thing.

Some day we may discover the full truth of just what pressure was exerted within the capital to keep people in check.

Update: I see William Hague has actually estimated Tripoli assets in the UK at £12bn on 24 March, when he set out the size of the assets now frozen. You can see why the Agoco released funds are a drop in the Med by comparison and why the Attorney General’s strict refusal to sanction any other asset release has been a source of frustration to some of his fellow Ministers.

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7 reader comments

  1. james mclean says:

    It appears to me that they are not beating Gaddafi and I do find it strange where these Rebels came from because as it is clearly shown that the People of Tripoli are 100% behind him.

    I don’t think that we are getting the whole Story of this Dictator about the good He has done for the Libyan People

    To me this looks like the last Dying throws of the Capitalist System that we know,so let’s see a new Capitalist System in the very near Future.

  2. grand-dad bill says:

    Sitting shivering in our coal celler clinging to my mum terrified of the bombing night after night, having been informed that if the bombs hit one of the huge gas storage tanks at the bottom of our street we wont have a cat in hells chance of surviving,I could’nt understand why those men in those planes wanted to kill us, you will understand why seventy years later I can’t watch the bombing of innocent human beings with the same detachment as the suits who seem to justify their decisions to carry out their terrifying missions as some sort of sinful chastisement,

  3. grand-dad bill says:

    further more, What contingencies are there to prevent the rebels reeking savage revenge on the by now traumatic people of Tripoli?

  4. james mclean says:

    This Government we have now is worse than the previous, or for that matter any of the previous Governments.

    What have they thought up now?. Well they are going to legitimise a Rebel outfit, that has not even been Elected. So much for our firm belief in Democracy and the sending of our Troops to uphold this, and even Die for it.

    We need a whole new World Government dedicated to the proper use of the Worlds Peoples under an honest Capitalist Democratic System overseen by the Worlds Religions but with no Power, just like our own House of Lords.

  5. Barbara says:

    Will they have to inflict Gadaffi type laws to maintain order? I hope not.

    Presumably those in Tripoli are primarily from loyal tribal groups who were old rivals with those who were not. I sincerely hope that reason and civil rights will prevail.I hope that the rebels are fired with motives of democracy rather than supremecy with the aspiration of uniting Libyans.

    The strong loyalty to Gadaffi was obvious from the start in Tripoli. Historical rivalry is hard to overcome.It may be a long and difficult road ahead.

  6. Philip Edwards says:


    I can mix clixhes too – in this case, the plot sickens. :-)

    The NATO action was/is intended to “defend civilians.” It had nothing to do with regime change, nothing to do with taking sides in a Civil War. But, as in Iraq, the West had no intention of defending civilians, or for that matter – another cliche – “finding WMD,” which they knew all along were not there.

    The West is after Gaddafi not because of his despotic rule but because he had the temerity to stand up to Western oil companies and threaten limited nationalisation. So the NATO bully boys simply carried out a limited 1956 Suez Crisis-type action, and may even have provoked Civil War in the first place.

    All of which makes Hague’s hypocrisy almost comic. But I bet the Libyan people don’t think it’s laughable, not with hundreds if not thousands of dead innocents lying in rubble created by NATO’s mass murder machine.

  7. James Mclean says:

    I have always believed in a the formation of a brand new Democratic Capitalist System and the removal of these International Gangsters who no nothing but War Sanctions—Bombs and Bullets.

    Now we find that the U.K.-France-and the U.S.A.have probably legitimised Al-QUID A, if that is the correct Spelling, so, now it may well be, that they may one Day run Libya and place us into a far a deeper Hole.

    So the Answer for the World is simple be rid of these Gun running Gangsters come Politicians, which can be achieved at the Ballot Box if that’s not been tampered with.

    There is a whole new World out there hat needs to be exploited for the Benefit of ALL Mankind like the Deserts that can be irrigated,the hidden lakes that lay under the African Continent to combat Drought and Starvation.The temporary building of Desalination Plants to serve the likes of Somalia until the African Continent is fully up and running.

    And finally the West must bite the Bullet and have talks with AL- Quid a to enable a massive enterprise like this to be realised, although there is one thing for sure it won’t be realised by Wars–Sanctions–Bombs and Bullets it would be better to Bite the Bullet.

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