Castro's blowing smoke over Libya, isn't he?

By Eric Watkins
Libya’s woes are the concern of many individuals around the world, among them Fidel Castro, who expressed concern this week that that Washington and its allies are fomenting unrest in Libya to justify an invasion to seize the oil reserves of the North African nation.

"The government of the United States is not concerned at all about peace in Libya and it will not hesitate to give NATO the order to invade that rich country," wrote Castro, who urged protests against an allegedly planned US-led invasion aimed at controlling the country’s oil.

You may think that’s the kind of nonsense we have heard before from Castro, as well as from his regional neighbor, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, who has long insisted that Washington is trying to topple his regime in order to control his country’s vast oil resources, too.

This time around, Chavez is not doing the talking. To be sure, the Venezuelan leader is making good use of social media, Twittering support to the Libyan leader: "Viva Libya and its independence! Gadhafi is facing a civil war."

While Chavez did not pick up Castro’s remarks, he did allow that privilege to fall to his Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, who wasted no time in chiming in with the Cuban leader that the US and its allies “are creating conditions to justify an invasion of Libya.”

US officials have long scoffed at suggestions that Washington is plotting anything against Venezuela's government, and they will say exactly the same thing about Castro’s accusations over Libya.

Still, one can’t deny that some people actually are thinking along the lines suggested by Castro. In fact, an oil trader in Switzerland – who need not be named – this week proposed the very scenario earlier denounced by Castro.

“One of the options that could be considered by the UN or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an imposition of a no-fly zone” in Libya, the trader said.

He then added that, “It would not take great efforts for multinational troops to move in for humanitarian reasons and then set up an interim administration that would then also make sure that the oil flows (a mini-Iraq scenario).”

A mini-Iraq scenario? If followed, such advice would open up a conflagration throughout the region, giving unscrupulous leaders and would-be leaders every excuse to rally ordinary citizens to the banner of resource nationalism, if not the extremism of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Washington and its allies are wise to keep an eye on events in Libya, but only an eye at the moment. Anything that looks like putting planes in the air or troops on the ground will only play into the hands of Castro, Chavez or worse, al-Qaeda.

Then imagine where oil prices will be.

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