Ching-ching, Gettin’ paid over here

February 27, 2008 § Leave a comment

(Image of the Leader of Libya Muammar Qaddhafi from here.)

Al-Jazeera reports this morning on a European Union plan to start talks with Libya which could lead to “normalization” of relations between the two entities. This comes as the United States is denying any plan to “normalize” relations with Sudan after the Sudanese foreign minister had announced the possibility of talks the other day.

Why are countries so eager (or are they) to “normalize” relations with the European Union or the United States? And if a country is willing to undergo a process of “normalization” what does that mean?

From the Arabic and English articles surrounding the Libya-EU talks, the key issue in “normalization” is integrating the “normalizing” country, in this case Libya, into global financial institutions. The EU has proposed an “ambitious” free-trade agreement with Libya which would incorporate energy resources. Libya is simultaneously pursuing a bid to join the World Trade Organization, a move that an EU representative said symbolizes “a vital first push forward in Libya’s re-integration into the world trading system.” Sounds beautiful, but I think this sentence from a Reuters article says it all:

“Europe takes the bulk of Libya’s oil exports and European firms are keen to expand energy investment there. The EU also wants Libya to help in sea patrols aimed at stemming a flood of illegal migrants from Africa.”

So, essentially, the EU wants Libya to open its economy to further external exploitation AND keep illegals from entering the EU. This type of one-sided relationship reeks of the colony-colonizer relationships of the 19th century. In this sense, the promise of normalization is just another mechanism by which economically privileged countries control countries like Libya. To be “normalized” is a great honor — something to be sought after — but to be anything else is to be an outcast in the global economy.

This article from Forbes suggests bypassing normalization and actually encourages investing in southern Sudan as a way to, well, profit from an unstable and vulnerable political situation:

“. . .American and foreign investors can effectively do business in Southern Sudan without having to go through Khartoum. The region’s lack of infrastructure is an opportunity for investors and donors across a variety of sectors, from banking to agriculture to construction and telecommunications.

AND!

Furthermore, with Darfur increasingly on the brink, foreign investment in Southern Sudan may be a critical component to stabilizing Darfur, Sudan and the entire region.

Leave it to two douchebags from Forbes to suggest that capitalism is the solution to genocide! Thanks, dudes

(Note: The word in Arabic for normalization is “al-tatbiyya'” which is literally translated as naturalization or “al-tawteed” which means strengthening.)

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