Jeffrey Feltman, head of US delegation at the secret talks Tunis.

As I explained in these columns, NATO lost the war politically in Libya on July 1, when 1.7 million Libyans took to the streets of Tripoli to jeer the Alliance and to rally behind Muammar Gaddafi [1]

The consequences of the defeat had still to be drawn. That’s what Washington has quickly done without bothering to inform its allies about its sudden shift, or its new strategy.

Stealing the assets and preparing the looting

First, the White House decided to get its hands on all the Libyan assets it could, lest it had incurred expenses for nothing. Hillary Clinton was informed of this decision when she was aboard her flight to Istanbul. She had no say in the matter, just to obey.

Note that the Turks and the French were given the same treatment as the Secretary of State. They came with their own proposals which they had to leave outside the door, without even being allowed to present them.

The summit was reduced to a rubber-stamp exercise. The members of the Contact Group were informed of the White House decision to make an inventory of Libyan assets and to place them in the hands of the Libyan National Transitional Council. This applies to financial assets, as much as to the authorization to broadcast on the Nilesat satellite, or to oil exploitation in the area controlled by the Alliance. To carry out this spoliation, the members of the Contact Group that had not yet done so were asked to recognize the CNT as the sole representative of the Libyan people replacing the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya [2]. They were informed that the operation was overseen by the Libyan Information Exchange Mechanism (LIEM), whose "activation" was briefly announced at the previous meeting (Abu Dhabi, June 9).

However, no information was provided about the legal status of the National Transitional Council or LIEM. Everything suggests that the White House is setting up a device similar to the one that proved so effective in Iraq [3]

In Baghdad, Washington had first installed the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance - ORHA, headed by General Jay Garner. It was later discovered that OHRA had been created by a secret presidential directive signed before Iraq war debate at the Security Council. Contrary to what its title might suggest, this organization was attached to the Pentagon.

In all likelihood, the same applies to LIEM although, officially, its director is an Italian.

In Baghdad, ORHA was quickly absorbed by the Coalition Provisional Authority - CPA, headed by L. Paul Bremer III, who exercised all the powers for one year. I demonstrated that the CPA was neither an international law nor U.S. law entity, but a private company. However, it still remains unclear where it was registered and who were the shareholders. The only thing we know for sure is that the CPA was engaged in the systematic looting of the country and did not withdraw until it forced the future Iraqi government to accept a spate of asymmetrical laws guaranteeing to multinationals the right to exploit the country for 99 more years.

Not surprisingly, one can expect that, once a cease-fire is in force, the LIEM will be absorbed in Benghazi by a kind of CPA.

Negotiating a military exit

Second, immediately after the summit, Washington opened direct talks with Tripoli, which took place in Tunis. The U.S. delegation was led by Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East, Jeffrey Feltman.

In the Empire’s vocabulary, Near East refers to all the Arab states of North Africa, the Levant and Gulf, plus Israel. And the title of Assistant Secretary of State designates a proconsul. Thus, whenever Jeffrey Feltman receives visitors in his Washington office, he is in the habit of introducing himself by a sweeping hand gesture across a wall map of the "Middle East" saying: "This is my jurisdiction."

By initiating direct talks, Washington cut off the permanent channel of negotiations that had been opened by Paris. Since the beginning of the armed conflict, Colonel Gaddafi had kept an ongoing dialogue with President Nicolas Sarkozy and his minister Alain Juppe. Together, they had elaborated a series of plans to end the crisis, each enhanced by the promise of fabulous under-the-table deals, but each one boycotted by the White House.

Jeffrey Feltman addressed the Tunis meeting as if he had come to serve an ultimatum instead of someone who had come to take part in a diplomatic process. This is how proconsuls typically behave, but being arrogant and terse is Feltman’s second nature; it has been his way of life ever since his wife, a brilliant art historian, walked out on him.

As soon as his tough-guy performance was over, little Jeffrey Feltman quickly became more conciliatory. In fact, Washington admitted to having lost the game and feigns to be abandoning its local ambitions. The White House would apparently settle for a cease-fire in which NATO would not control Cyrenaica as a whole, but only three enclaves, including Benghazi (but probably not Misrata). NATO would consent to withdraw in favor of a United Nations peacekeeping force.

In terms of the calendar, Ramadan (which falls this year from 1 to 29 August) would be an opportunity to stop the bombing and enact the transition.

Washington’s only conditions: largesse when it comes to oil and gas concessions, and arranging for the early retirement of Libya’s leader. From the Libyan side, the first requirement can be discussed, but the second is an affront, Muammar Gaddafi having grown into the symbol of unity and resistance to the "crossed aggression." The delegation considers that requirement as a humiliation.

In response, a Libyan whose brother was killed in action, just sold his farm to finance the erection of a huge monument to the national hero on Tripoli’s Green Square, Friday, 21 July.

Preparing the second round

Third, NATO’s withdrawal does not spell the permanent abandonment of Washington’s ambitions. The preparation of the second round is already under way. After the cease-fire takes effect, the United States will deploy an intense secret activity to reverse the political equation.

On the basis of a partial analysis made by the British, Washington was convinced that the tribes hostile to Muammar Gaddafi would rally to the National Transitional Council. Experts from the National Security Council were surprised to see them instead reconciling with the "Revolutionary Guide" and joining the struggle against foreign interference. During the ceasefire, we should therefore expect to see direct contacts being established to convince them to choose the Western camp should a new opportunity arise.

On the other hand, under the guise of humanitarian operations undertaken by supposedly "non-governmental" organizations or by those NATO states that did not participate in military operations, the CIA and the Pentagon intend to deploy agents of destabilization. As of now, there is already talk of humanitarian corridors, planes, support teams, etc. that will be as many covers for covert actions. The idea is to hijack the process of reform that Saif el-Islam el-Qaddafi had initiated before the war to foment a color revolution. This could be enough for a power takeover. And if it fails, it would provide the pretext for the resumption of military operations.

Be that as it may, Washington refuses to conform to the status quo and is preparing its revenge. By uniting together, the Libyan people have held it in check. To win, the Empire will first have to divide them.

[1NATO and the ungratefulness of the Libyan people”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 17 July 2011.

[2Fourth Meeting of the Libya Contact Group Chair’s Statement”, Voltaire Network, 15 July 2011

[3Who Rules Iraq? ”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 13 May 2004.