Oil Explains Why There Was International Intervention in Libya but not in Syria

Free «Oil Explains Why There Was International Intervention in Libya but not in Syria» Essay Sample


A civil unrest in Libya broke out in 2011 as the result of dissatisfaction of some Libyans who were dissatisfied by the way their leader colonel Muammar Gaddafi ruled the country. They accused Gaddaffi of dictatorship. On the other hand, Gaddafi had his own loyal supporters who believed in his way of leadership. What started as protests in Libyan towns culminated into an armed conflict between forces loyal to Gaddafi and the protestors, which led to deaths of many people, including their leader colonel Gaddafi (Sullivan, 2009).

On the other hand, the Syrian civil war is also an armed ongoing conflict in Syria. The war also began as a nationwide protest, in early 2011, against President, Bashar al-Assad. The government responded to these protests by employing its forces to carry out violent crackdown on the protestors. Within months, this led into an armed rebellion by the people who felt oppressed.

The two wars were almost similar in the way they had begun, and their results were deaths, destruction of properties, injuries and many people were forced to become refugees. However, despite the similarities, ones is left wondering by the contrasting international approach to the two civil wars. There was an immediate intervention in the Libyan war, which led to the death of Muammar Gaddafi, but there has not been an intervention in the Syrian war. This leads us to ask ourselves if the international intervention in Libya was for humanitarian assistance or for other purposes. As for my on observation, the reason behind international intervention in Libyan war as opposed to the Syrian war was motivated by the interests in oil reserves in Libya. This is shown by the reasons below.


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The United States and other Western Countries’ Reasons for Intervention Beat the logic behind their Intervention.

The reasons given by the international community for intervening in the Libyan conflict would have also been applied in the Syrian case. The United States and Britain supported Libyan rebels. They argued that their broad collection of allies under an intercontinental obligation whose foremost objective was to save lives and ensure that gamble was not given to such kind of annihilation that would make regret their inaction during such times of need.

This is in great contrast to the international reaction to the Syrian conflict. In a statement read by White House press secretary Jay Carney on July 24, 2012, the White Houses’ reaction to the war in Syria was expressed: “The U.S. is not going to intervene the Syrian situation in a military way or to invade the territory of this country, President Barack Obama believes that such actions would be wrong” (Hashemi & Postel, 2013).

At no time have the leaders of the United States and other western countries’ leaders in their affirmations told the world of any basic reason on why they reacted to the promptly reacted to the Libyan conflict and never did the same to the Syrian case. In fact, if it were for a humanitarian assistance that the United States had intervened in Libya, they would probably put a triple effort in Syria since the violation of human rights in Syria was almost triple than in Libya. For example, one should consider the number of deaths in Libya as compared to Syria. The death toll in Syria was estimated to be 10,000 while the number of injuries was estimated to be about 4000 individuals by February 22, 2012 (Çakmak, Ustaoglu, & Palgrave, 2015).

Due to the contrasting intervention of the international community led by the United States, in the war in the two different countries, Libya and Syria, we can conclude that their primary objective is neither to save lives by preventing massacres nor support other human rights. Their interests lie in oil production and supply. Humanitarian assistance should not be applied selectively if the aids act in good faith. The same standards should be applied to all human beings irrespective of country of origin. Therefore, such an assistance should be based on the degree of fatalities, loss of property, and severity of oppressed. In this case, the loss that has so far occurred in Syria triples the loss that was experienced in Libya. Therefore, the international community should support their words by actions.

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The United States and Other Powerful States have a History of Meddling in the Internal Affairs of Oil Producing Countries

From the patterns of the United States’ intervention in civil wars occurring in other countries, it can be noted that America is likely to interfere if the country is an oil producing country or if the country has control over the supply of oil. This can be seen from the utterances of its officials. For example, in a State of Union address on January 23, 1980, President Jimmy Carter supported the US interest in controlling supply of oil in the Persian Gulf and noted that anyone with similar interest would be militarily resisted. This has led to America’s frequent attracts on oil rich countries as witnessed in in the Middle East with an example of Iraq.

Efforts to Gain Control and Corporate Ownership over the World’s Reserves of Oil and Natural Gas

The international intervention in Libya, if looked at keenly, was also motivated by the western countries’ intention of getting rid of China’s aggressive oil mining activities in Africa through China National Petroleum Corporation because China was a major player in the oil industry in Libya. These Chinese activities created fear in the Western countries who felt that China gained power in the control of oil reserves not only in Libya but also in entire Africa. Libya owns approximately 3.5 % of global oil reserves with 46.5 barrels of proven oil reserves (Otman & Karlberg, 2007). This makes Libya the largest oil economy on the African continent followed by Nigeria and Algeria (Oil and Gas Journal).

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