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The Oil Factor

  • Geoff Simons

Abstract

Libya, a little more than a generation ago, was a poverty-stricken country, a hapless pawn of Great Powers with strategic matters on their mind. In 1955 the author John Gunther, with monumental Western condescension, was able to depict Libya as ‘a child learning to walk’, with a future dependent on ‘how well it is brought up’. Or perhaps Libya was only weak and enfeebled: ‘If it is frail, give it a brace.’1 And of course Libya was not viable, ‘unless it manages to stay united and continues to receive foreign aid’ — Western aid, that was, to avoid ‘surrendering’ the country ‘to Communism’. Gunther and his ilk did not reckon with the seismic change that Muammar al-Gaddafi was to bring to Libyan politics; perhaps more importantly they did not reckon with the oil factor. In the decade after independence Libya was the poorest nation state in the world, its main exports being esparto grass, used in paper making, and the scrap metal salvaged from the detritus of the Second World War.2 All this was to change.

Keywords

Middle East Suez Canal Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Export Country OPEC Member 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    John Gunther, Inside Africa (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1955) p. 179.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ruth First, Libya: The Elusive Revolution (New York: Africa Publishing Co., 1975) p. 141.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    John Wright, Libya (London: Ernest Benn, 1969) p. 268.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    John Davis, Libyan Politics, Tribe and Revolution (London: I. B. Tauris, 1987) pp. 15–19, and Appendix 1, ‘On Hydrocarbon Society’, pp. 261–3.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    J. A. Allan, Libya: The Experience of Oil (London: Croom Helm, 1981) p. 24.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Peter R. Odell, Oil and World Power: Background to the Oil Crisis (Harmondsworth: Penguin, England, 1970) p. 92.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Mana Saeed al-Otaiba, OPEC and the Petroleum Industry (New York: John Wiley, 1975) p. 25.Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    Wanda M. Jaclobski, ‘Libya’s Oil Pricing and Tax Dilemma’, Petroleum Intelligence Weekly, 19 April 1965, pp. 6–9.Google Scholar
  9. 21.
    Nasser reached a bargain with the Arab oil states — Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Libya — whereby all pressure on them to continue their boycott of Britain and the US would be lifted if suitable payments (Kuwait £55 million, Saudi Arabia £50 million, and Libya £30 million) were made to Egypt and Jordan (who would receive respectively £95 million and £40 million) to remove ‘the traces of aggression’ (i.e. to compensate for lost Suez Canal revenues): see Peter Mansfield, Nasser’s Egypt (Harmondsworth: Penguin, rev. edn, 1969) p. 85.Google Scholar
  10. 25.
    Anthony Sampson, The Seven Sisters (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1975) p. 214.Google Scholar
  11. 26.
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  12. 31.
    Ian Seymour, New York Times, 7 October 1973, quoted by Sampson, ibid., p. 248.Google Scholar
  13. 32.
    Richard J. Barnet, The Lean Years: Politics in the Age of Scarcity (London: Abacus, 1981) p. 33.Google Scholar
  14. 33.
    John K. Cooley, Libyan Sandstorm (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982) p. 53.Google Scholar
  15. 35.
    Wilbur Eveland, Ropes of Sand: America’s Failure in the Middle East (New York: Norton, 1980).Google Scholar
  16. 36.
    Christopher Rand, Making Democracy Safe for Oil: Oilmen and the Islamic East (Boston, Mass.: Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1975) p. 251.Google Scholar
  17. 39.
    David Newsome, Multinational Report (1975) p. 99; quoted by Sampson, op. cit., p. 211.Google Scholar
  18. 40.
    Stanley Penn, Wall Street Journal, 8 February 1972, p. 1.Google Scholar
  19. 43.
    Hammer describes his Libyan experiences (and many others) in Armand Hammer with Neil Lyndon, Hammer: Witness to History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987).Google Scholar
  20. 47.
    Quoted in Ewan W. Anderson and Khalil H. Rashidian, Iraq and the Continuous Middle East Crisis (London: Pinter, 1991) p. 55.Google Scholar
  21. 49.
    Martin Walker, The Guardian (London), 4 January 1992.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Geoff Simons 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoff Simons

There are no affiliations available

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