Saturday, 16 April 2011

Libya for Dummies ( Part III ) - Mini-update

Part I and II can be found here:
One of the comments has brought something to my attention about Muammar Gadhafi, the leader of Libya. Unlike most people in the world, Gadhafi literally has tonnes of gold. I'm talking about a real gold stash somewhere in Libya. The estimate is that he has a little more than 140 tonnes of gold treasure. What is also extraordinary is that the price of gold is nearing $1500 per ounce.
Just for sakes of simplifying calculations and therefore this post, I am going to say that an ounce is 50 grams instead of the 28 grams. This would also give an underestimate of what the gold would be worth on the market, but since Gadhafi would have to rely on black market dealers, I think, his gold would have a somewhat lower value.
So let's get on to estimate the value of his trove. So it's $3000 per 100 grams. 1 ton is 1000kg and 1kg is 1000 grams. This means that his gold is worth more than $4.2 billion. That's an amount that most people would not ever even see exchange hands in their entire lifetimes.

Oil? Bah! Who needs it?!
What this means is that Gadhafi can finance his mercenaries and army for a much longer period than I had ever thought. No matter what happens to the oil in the country, $4+ billion can buy many weapons, and it can pay for an army for a long time. Of course having the oil ports wouldn't hurt him, but even without them, he can afford to keep this war going for a very long time.

Ultimatums Are Bad
Lately, most Western countries have been calling for the immediate surrender of step-down of Gadhafi. I believe that in the situation we're in, not leaving any other options on the table will lead to nothing more than a long and bloody war. Gadhafi has now started to implement cluster munitions inside populated areas. Cluster munitions are munitions that explode and then release smaller munitions which then go in all directions.
I believe that negotiations is the step forward, even though he is a mad man, the worst thing you can do with a crazy person is drive them into a corner, because all that would happen is them flying into a rage and doing even crazier things.
The next step might be a very dangerous one as NATO tries to squeeze Gadhafi like a lemon. Acid might spill into their and the Libyans' eyes and it will hurt badly. Gadhafi might go on a rampage to discourage NATO's air-strikes. This might become very ugly.
Sadly, the Libyans are between Scylla and Chyrabdis or a rock and a hard place. The difference between Scylla & Chyrabdis and the rock & hard place is that Scylla & Chyrabdis are terrible monsters that would kill anyone who comes near them, while the rock just keeps you immobile.
The Libyan rebels are stuck between keeping their fight and slowly losing their resolve or stopping now and accept the loss of their fight. Both cases would result in Gadhafi finding ways to make everyone pay for his troubles, many, many deaths.
The rebels were highly motivated before, but when the tide turned and Gadhafi had brought its armored column against them they started losing morale quickly, a prolonged fight usually makes the militia lose heart before the regulars do.

Need to Negotiate
They need to ask for a cease-fire, someone neutral needs to make both parties go to the table and discuss a cease-fire. Even if it ends up like the cease-fire in the Korea's it would probably be better than them to keep on the fight for months or years. Several thousands of people have died already. How many more should have to die ?

Except for That
Gadhafi has been bombarding Misrata from within and from without, killing civilians as well as active rebels. NATO has promised more airstrikes and the rebels have apparently begun receiving weapon shipments and have been closing in on the next oil port.
Them getting weapons probably means that at least some companies are profiting from this. Isn't there an upside to everything ?

Oh well. Good night everyone. Have a think about this.
Part IV is now available.

1 comment:

  1. It's been reported that he has crates of $100 bills, treasury bills, and rare metals too. He isn't going to run out of money any time soon.