Now that the Department of State has released the last of Hillary Clinton's work-related emails from her private server, it's time to take a look at one key email. This email, dated Saturday, April 2, 2011 and classified as "confidential", has the subject line "France's client and Qaddafi's gold".
Here's the email:
To help you put the email into the timeline of the Libyan Civil War, it was the protests in Benghazi on February 13, 2011 that started the collapse of Qaddafi's reign over Libya. This protest was a continuation of the Arab Spring that had brought down the rulers of both Egypt and Tunisia, Libya's neighbouring countries. By February 22, 2011, Qaddafi and his military had lost control of large parts of Libya. On February 26, 2011, through Resolution 1973, the United Nations voted to freeze the assets of Muammar Qaddafi and other key members of his regime as well as referring the ongoing violence against Libya's civilians to the International Criminal Court. In addition, they imposed an arms embargo against Libya. Despite early gains by rebel forces, government forces loyal to Qaddafi began to regain lost territory, largely because Qaddafi's forces had superior military capabilities, including airpower. On March 10, 2011, the Government of France recognized the Libyan Transitional National Council in Benghazi as the sole legitimate government of Libya. On March 17, 2011, the United Nations authorized a no-fly zone over Libya with the express purpose of protecting civilians. Qaddafi's forces then declared an immediate ceasefire and wished to open negotiations with the opposition forces. NATO entered the fray on March 19th, 2011 when nineteen French military aircraft began missions over Benghazi. United States and United Kingdom ships and submarines began to fiver cruise missiles at Libyan military installations. In addition, NATO ships enforced a naval blockade. On June 9, 2011, the United States officially recognized the rebel government as the sole representative of the Libyan people. On Jun 16, 2011, Qaddafi's son announced that Libyan authorities were prepared to draft a new constitution and hold free elections and that his father would resign but not leave Libya.
Here are a series of maps from NATO showing how the territory held by each side in this conflict changed over the period from March to September, 2011:
After Tripoli fell in August, 2011, Qaddafi fled the capital to regions unknown. On October 20, 2011, this is what happened after his convoy, located near Sirte, was fired on by NATO aircraft and an American Predator drone:
Now, let's go back to Hillary Clinton's email about the the conflict in Libya. The aforementioned U.N. resolution 1973 that imposed sanctions on certain key Libyans and that formed the legal basis for NATO military intervention in Libya, was proposed by France, Lebanon and the United Kingdom. Resolution 1973 was purportedly enacted to protect civilians as you can see here:
"Expressing grave concern at the deteriorating situation, the escalation of violence, and the heavy civilian casualties,
Reiterating the responsibility of the Libyan authorities to protect the Libyan population and reaffirming that parties to armed conflicts bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians,
Condemning the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and summary executions,
Further condemning acts of violence and intimidation committed by the Libyan authorities against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel and urging these authorities to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law as outlined in resolution 1738 (2006),
Considering that the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity,
Recalling paragraph 26 of resolution 1970 (2011) in which the Council expressed its readiness to consider taking additional appropriate measures, as necessary, to facilitate and support the return of humanitarian agencies and make available humanitarian and related assistance in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,
Expressing its determination to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian populated areas and the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance and the safety of humanitarian personnel..."
Historically speaking, there is a strong connection between France and Libya. Back in 1967, Libya and France signed an agreement whereby Libya supplied a guaranteed volume of oil in exchange for weapons, particularly 50 of France's Mirage 5 fighters. In fact, in 1970, France announced that it would sell an additional 50 Mirage fighters to the Libyan regime, much to the chagrin of the United States and the United Nations. However, as we can see from the email to Hillary Clinton, France had other things in mind for its former trading partner by early 2011:
1.) Gain a greater share of Libyan oil production.
2.) Increase French influence in North Africa, much of which was previously French colonial territory.
3.) Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world.
4.) Improve the internal political situation in France...
...and, most importantly, Libya had stockpiled approximately 143 tons of gold and 143 tons of silver, worth more than $7 billion at the time of the email. What was of even more concern to the French (and Americans) was the fact that the 26 Francophone African Countries which includes Algeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, the Central African Republic and Cameroon, among others, were heading towards creating a pan-African currency that was based on the Libyan golden Dinar. Currently, the CFA franc is one of Africa's currencies used in both West African and Central Africa. A total of 14 nations use the CFA Franc which is backed by the French treasury.
As an aside, you will notice that the French are showing no particular concern about the civilian population in Libya as highlighted in United Nations Resolution 1973.
Obviously, France (and, by extension, NATO and the United States) were increasingly concerned that Libya was leading Africa into economic independence from its former colonial masters as well as the United States since it was prepared to create a currency that would compete with both the euro and the United States dollar. This brings to mind the moves by Saddam Hussein when he moved to sell Iraq's oil in euros rather than the United States dollar back in 2000. We all know how that movie ended, don't we?
Let's close this posting with a look at Africa's potential to produce oil to give us a sense of why the greater world would be concerned about an increasingly independent Africa:
In 2012, North Africa (i.e. Libya, Algeria, Tunisia et al) produced around 5 percent of the world's total oil output and Sub-Saharan Africa produced around 7 percent of the world's total oil output.
Here is a diagram from the U.S. Energy Information Agency showing how African's proven reserves of oil have grown by nearly 120 percent over the last three decades:
Here is a diagram showing how Africa's proven reserves of natural gas have grown by over 140 percent over the past three decades:
Here's where Africa's oil ends up:
As you can see, having Africa develop currency independence from the rest of the world would be completely unpalatable to those who currently control the world's currency and commodity markets, particularly since Africa is so rich in just about any commodity used by the advanced economies of the world. The moves by Libya to create a pan-African currency with its substantial reserves of precious metals flies in the face of the rest of the world which is quite satisfied to back its currencies with thin air.
In closing, and lest we forget, here is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's reaction to Muammar Qaddafi's ultimate fate: