Libya: Lubricating the Oil Magnates With Blood

Benghazi is about to explode with an event which, judging from past experience, is likely to have NATO retaliation at its leading edge. On Thursday January 24, the BBC advised UK residents to leave Libya’s second city.[1] Other European residents of Benghazi have likewise been advised by their governments’ embassies to abandon the city. When NATO plans to attack somewhere, it usually tries to make sure its nationals are out of the area first. It did so before bombing Iraq with depleted uranium warheads after the declaration of a no-fly zone. This was long before the Iraq war. The nature of the current threat to Benghazi has not yet been made clear. This city was the scene of the September 11, 2012 attack on the American diplomatic complex in which US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed along with three other personnel. A further ten were injured. The BBC announcement came the day after Secretary of State Hilary Clinton defended the US position over that embassy attack. A response to a US-produced anti-Islamic film was thought to be the original cause, but this was later said to be untrue.[2]

Historically Benghazi was sought after for its beauty and vegetation. It was once such a plush area, it was likened to a mythological and heavenly garden tended by nymphs and indeed went by the name Hesperides. For three centuries it was under Greek colonization, for another six it was a Roman colony. The Turkish (later Ottoman) empire controlled the area another 300 years until early in the last century, then Benghazi fell under the Italian yoke. Today, it is not so much the beauty of the area that attracts the world’s imperialists as the residue from those early Elysian gardens, once an inspiration to the poets of old. Millennia of biodegradation have left, beneath the surface, wells of the black pollutant for which greedy people and governments will drench their hands with blood. This brings us to Tony Buckingham.

Executive holdings and outcomes

Tony Buckingham’s history is as shady as Benghazi’s is colourful. Buckingham has added to his multi-millions using mercenary deals in Africa through a company called Executive Outcomes and an associated company called Sandline Holdings. Sandline’s activities were concentrated in areas of Angola and Sierra Leone; Buckingham added to his wealth from the diamond mines of these two countries via his Canadian companies Diamond Works and Branch Energy.[3] Executive Outcomes was set up by Eeben Barlow, the man Patrick Haseldine believes was behind the Lockerbie bombing.[4] Before Buckingham moved primarily into oil through his company, Heritage Oil,  he was implicated in mercenary activities throughout Africa, and other countries, with a close-knit private military cabal including Captain Tim Spicer and his former business partner in oil and security companies Simon Mann. Mann was imprisoned for trying to engineer a coup d’état in Equatorial Guinea, an adventure that was funded by Mark Thatcher, son of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Buckingham’s interests are scattered far and wide, but he usually conceals his involvement and instead relies on henchmen like Tim Spicer, Stephen Crouch and Christian Sweeting to lobby on his behalf, or on behalf of his companies.[5] Over the years, Buckingham has registered companies in diverse tax-havens, including the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey and Hong Kong. It is said that his private army and mercenary interests ceased in 1999, and he is no longer involved in Sandline, which was wound up in 2004. This ostensible lack of interest coincided with Nelson Mandela closing down the South African operation of Executive Outcomes at the end of 1998. Although nothing today directly connects Buckingham to any mercenary army, many of his business partners, if not all, have a military or special units’ background. The more wars the west enters, the richer people like Buckingham and Spicer get.

Before Buckingham’s incursion into Libya, he was one of the first oil tycoons into Iraq after the 2003 war: a war which Prime Minister Tony Blair informed an outraged public had nothing to do with oil. Heritage Oil bought into the oilfields of Iraq when the second Gulf War ended; after “discovering” oil in the Kurdistan area of Iraq, Heritage exploited that find through Genel Enerji, a partner company in the Miran field. Before announcing the “find” to the market, Buckingham’s company leaked the confidential information to Genel’s directors Mehmet Sepel, Murat Ozgul and Levent Akca, who bought shares, which they sold on the very day the market was informed of the discovery. These shares rocketed by 25%, and the directors were penalized for insider trading. Interestingly, the three Genel directors had to pay a record fine, but not Heritage Oil, through which the oil discovery had been leaked to them.[6]

Stephen Crouch, Lawrence of Kurdistan

Buckingham’s associate Stephen Crouch had been involved in the plan to steal Iraqi oil since the First Gulf War. In 1991 Crouch curried favor with the Kurdish Reconstruction Company, with whom he soon had a disagreement. Known sarcastically as “Lawrence of Kurdistan,” Crouch became Director General of Iraqi British Interest Group (IBI) by 1994 and several others subsequently.[7] He has tried to project an image of working for the secret services, though this has been denied by MI6. Crouch came under public scrutiny when British conservative politician Liam Fox had to resign in 2011 over the Adam Werritty scandal. As well as paying £5,000 towards the election campaign of Simon Hart on behalf of Buckingham, Crouch made a donation of £50,000 to Conservative Party funds, again using the former mercenary’s money. Werritty, it will be recalled, was an unofficial defense adviser allegedly on behalf of the government, who used fake calling cards with a House of Commons portcullis printed on them. Werrity was funded through a bogus charity set up by Fox, called Atlantic Bridge, until the Charity Commission closed it down. After this, he got funds via donations to his own company, Pargav.[8] Before Atlantic Bridge’s disgraceful demise, its ranks included, at one time or another, many of the top government ministers and a number of shadow ministers. Margaret Thatcher was its Honorary President.

Selling security

When a country invades another country to steal its oil or other mineral wealth, one may logically expect the inhabitants of the invaded country to prefer their oil, or other stolen resources, to be used for their personal benefit. From the viewpoint of the thief who wants to keep his loot, the oilfields need defending. To defend the newly-acquired interests in Iraq on behalf of the U.S., a British-registered private army, otherwise called a security company, was given the contract. Buckingham’s old friend Tim Spicer is very much in charge of security through a company called Aegis. Spicer had a meeting with Pentagon officials and was later awarded several contracts including one worth $293 million.[9]

In 2011 Tony Buckingham shelled out £19 million for a stake in Sahara Oil Services Holdings based in Benghazi.[10] Christian Sweeting, a former Conservative candidate who has the confidence of the First Secretary, William Hague, is running this operation. Hague and Sweeting share the same gentlemen’s club, The Carlton Club. More than 12 months ago however, Sweeting had difficulty in securing a face-to-face meeting between Buckingham and Hague, and it is not known whether this meeting ever took place. Its purpose was to get Hague’s support for a multi-million pound security contract in Libya. Sweeting was having difficulty selling this same private security idea to Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC).[11] The NTC did not want to be presented with the security mess now evident in Afghanistan and Iraq. Buckingham, through Heritage Oil, has also had his eye on offshore drilling in an area contested by Malta and Libya, which was planned even before Gaddafi was deposed. Sweeting recruited a retired former British commando Major General John Holmes to set up the security for Heritage Oil interests. Holmes is said to be connected with Simon Mann, formerly, like Buckingham, of Executive Outcomes.

This is speculative, but it seems unlikely that any security contracts proposed by Sweeting have been approved by the NTC. If they have not, this leaves those with oil and other mineral investments in Libya, without security from British-based security companies, most uncomfortable in some eyes. Is this why British nationals, other Europeans and Canadians in Libya have been told to leave the country? On January 27, British citizens were advised to leave Somalia because of a specific threat to their safety.[12] Is there a connection between the two? What will happen next in Benghazi? Is the National Transitional Council no longer a British ally? Will there be drone attacks on Benghazi, or Somalia, or both? Will a false-flag incident be blamed on Somalis? Is the British parliament consulted anymore before such decisions take place? Are there any reasonable people left in the government? Is everybody in government a neo-colonialist? Whatever the answer to these questions, rest assured that the finite mineral resources of the world are its main stumbling-block to world peace.

Editor’s Note: Photograph one by Thomas Hawk. Photographs two and five by Jayel Aheram and photograph three by Joe Rago.






[5] For an account of how Tim Spicer protected Tony Buckingham’s name in relation to Sandline see Craig Murray, The Catholic Orangemen of Togo and Other Conflicts I Have Known, Atholl, 2009, Chapters 2 and 4.




[9] Murray, 68.







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