- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2011

A senior member of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s party said Monday that the U.S. and its European allies intervened in Libya so that they could confiscate $200 billion of frozen Gadhafi family assets to save their economies.

Carlos Escarra Malave, vice president of Venezuela’s standing committee on foreign policy, leveled the accusation during an interview with The Washington Times.

“Many people think the invasion is for oil, which isn’t true because the countries that are participating in Libya’s oil industry include the French, include the Italians, include the British,” said Mr. Malave, who also discounted the idea that the Western-led intervention is related to Libya’s freshwater resources.

“The real reason for the invasion is the $200 billion that [Libyan dictator Moammar] Gadhafi has in European and American banks, which could create a crisis in those countries [if withdrawn],” he said.

“And that’s why they sped up, in the process of pushing this resolution … the confiscation or the freezing of assets, so that each of the states in which there were deposits from the Gadhafi family or from Libya, could save their own economies by confiscating those assets. That’s the true reason for the invasion.”

Asked if he believes there were other reasons for the Libyan intervention, Mr. Malave said this is “the only one.”

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved last month a resolution to freeze assets belonging to Col. Gadhafi and his family. The Treasury Department has confirmed that U.S. alone has frozen more than $30 billion.

Mr. Malave, a member of Venezuela’s parliament, said that his committee had looked into whether Col. Gadhafi had any assets in the South American country and concluded there were none.

Mr. Chavez, a longtime ally of Col. Gadhafi, has proposed an international peace commission to deal with the Libyan crisis, but his efforts have been rebuffed by rebel leaders.

Mr. Malave blasted the allied air strikes, saying they had caused far more casualties in a matter of days than the number that had been killed in the weeks prior. He also said that Col. Gadhafi would be welcome in Venezuela.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said last week that the U.S. “would encourage” an exile scenario.

“Venezuela is open to people of all types, from all over the world,” Mr. Malave said. “Venezuela would even be open to taking President Obama if he needed to seek asylum.”

• Ben Birnbaum can be reached at 138247@example.com.

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