Thursday, October 2, 2008

Old Cold War friends are reunited once again, and it feels so good

Aside from Russia and points eastward, Europe's only true alternative for natural gas is North Africa. And Russia is apparently acutely aware of that, as they've begun courting Libya, initially for its gas and pipeline, but in the future probably for its vast oil reserves, too:

Gazprom is expected to sign a deal with Eni to acquire the Italian company’s stake in Libya’s Elephant oil field. But Gazprom is really after Eni’s stakes in the Greenstream natural gas pipeline, which runs from Libyan fields to Sicily and would give Russia another potential energy lever to use against the Europeans.

In exchange for the Libyan oil fields, Gazprom has theoretically given Eni access to some of the energy reserves along Russia's Arctic coast.

As the Stratfor article mentions, Libya was very close to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Through its own apparatus and through the security services of other Eastern bloc nations, the Soviets channeled weapons and expertise to Libya, whose leaders dutifully carried out Soviet foreign policy. They armed the PLO and the Iranians after the Revolution, backed the terrorists at Munich, employed Carlos the Jackal at various points (but really – who didn't?), and generally acted as staid proxies for Soviet malevolence. After the end of the Cold War, Libya saw the writing on the wall and jumped sides, resolving tensions over the Pan Am bombing and accepting billions in western development aid. But obviously, Libya has no favorite in this fight, and is up for whatever as long as it gets security and compensation.

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