Libyan oil seducing West into warfare, UBC prof says

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Trouble for Libya's oil industry, YouTube video by AlJazeeraEnglish

"Libyan oil is one of the highest quality oil in the world...a light, sweet crude which has no equal," says Hani Faris, adjunct professor of the UBC Department of Political Science and President of US-based Trans-Arab Research Institute.

"Europe and the U.S. are not going to go into Libya out of love for the human rights of Libyans -- it's for geostrategic interest." Faris says that foreign intervention in Libya is mostly self-serving in the case of Western countries, some of which depend on the country to provide for their oil. 

"Libya has the largest oil reserves in all of Africa," he says. "(It) produces approximately 1.8 million barrels (of oil) a day, and exports 1.5 million barrels...Italy, for example, depends on Libya for one-quarter of their oil needs." He suggests that Europe is "very wary of the situation in Libya."

As the conflict escalates in Libya, foreign powers have talked about deepening their involvement. There have been discussions of possible no-fly zone in the country, and The New York Times reported on Thursday that US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton plans to meet with Libyan rebels next week.

Faris does not believe that Canada will become directly involved in a military conflict in Libya, but warns that other countries could be dragged into a ground war in the event that the no-fly zone is implemented.

"A no-fly zone in and of itself will not decide the fate of the Libyan situation. Most military analysts seem to agree that...It will be decided on the ground by tanks and artillery."

"Say a Western-led force, primarily American, implements a no-fly zone based on a U.N. Resolution...In this case, if the battles begin to see massacres, and a no fly zone is not going to stop them. Which means, they will have to put boots on the ground, and they have to go to war."

Faris says that under the current Conservative government, Canada has squandered most of its goodwill and credibility in the Middle East, but that the Libyan crisis could be an opportunity to restore its moral standing in the region.

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