On 5th November 2012, the Syrian National Council, the umbrella armed coalition of parties opposed to the regime of Assad published their financial accounts. It emerges that “Libya leads funding of Syria rebels.” According to the document, the Libyan government contributed $20.3m of the $40.4m that the opposition group has amassed since its creation in August 2011.
As we have been following the news on the ground in Syria, there is a standoff between those seeking change and President Assad, situation which has been going on for a while. NATO countries which would like to see Syria weakened because of its friendly relationship with Iran, have been unable to replicate Libya stratagem of humanitarian intervention to help remove the Syrian regime from power.
Since the first regime changes which emerged from the “Arab Spring”, lessons have also been learnt from those, particularly among permanent members of the Security Council, namely China and Russia, who gave a blank cheque for intervention in Libya, but found themselves cheated. Hopefully, new non-permanent members will remember such precedent. It should be long before similar abuses of trust in international undertakings decided at the highest institution for peace and security on the planet will be possibly repeated.
The Syrian standoff is consequently and partially an outcome of the Libyan precedent. As the situation looks, what are the options available to NATO and its allies? If people remember, in the first months of attempts of toppling the Libyan leader Muammar Kaddafi from power, there were a lot of news in mainstream media highlighting how much money he kept in Western banks or as assets of different types including buildings and shares invested in companies.
Estimates went as high as 150 billions $. It would be interesting to know today how much of that wealth has officially been formally given back to Libyans. It could also possibly be assumed that some has effectively been repatriated in order to allow the new Libyan authorities to operate. What is most probable though is that most of that money that Kaddafi owned is still upheld in Western banks and or under other forms of assets. The West also needs it, supposedly as guardian, but also to make it benefit from that role of guardianship. It also has to deal with its ongoing financial crisis. But there are voices like Russian expert in Eastern affairs Anatoly Egorin and Fatima abu an-Niran, head of the International Association for Democracy in Libya, who think that those billions have been stolen.
Libyans need of course to trace back that wealth which is legitimately theirs. As for the funding that Libya seems to be on top of the list of providers for the Syrian armed opposition, it won’t be totally wrong to assume that the country might only be a channel for Western interests, which want to weaken president Assad of Syria. By so doing they can achieve Iran isolation. Consequently, it might not be true that Libya is effectively leading funding for Syrian rebels, but only the fact being that Libyan money upheld in Western banks is using Libyan rub stamp to foment another regime change, which will ultimately increase Western influence in the Middle East.