Edited by Nureddin Sabir
Redress Information & Analysis
Redress Information & Analysis looks back at the Libyan uprising as it unfolded, from the eruption of the peaceful civil and political rights protests and the Gaddafi regime’s hyper-violent response, to the UN Security Council’s authorization of the use of force to protect Libyan civilians.
We pay special attention to the so-called “anti-imperialist” camp’s great betrayal of the Libyan people and how, through ignorance, stupidity, dogmatism, naivety and greed for Gaddafi’s money, these faux “leftists” turned their backs on the Libyan people and supported the murderous Gaddafi regime.
- Turning against Mu’ammar Gaddafi of Libya
- The West is doing the right thing in Libya
- “I was wrong to oppose military intervention in Libya – wrong, wrong, wrong”
- Clearing up myths and misconceptions about Gaddafi and the Libyan uprising
- Dispelling Libyan myths
- Libya and the conspiratorial veil of Western racism
- The left’s double standards on Libya
- Libya and hypocrisy of the “left”
Turning against Mu’ammar Gaddafi of Libya
20 February 2011
By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis
Nureddin Sabir recounts a painful journey of hope, disappointment, betrayal, blood and murder that has seen him turn from loyal supporter to vehement opponent of Colonel Mu’ammar Gaddafi and his regime in Libya.
From Zintan in the west of Libya to Benghazi, Al-Bayda, Derna and Tobruk in the east, Libyans have been rising up against the rule of Colonel Mu’ammar Gaddafi since a “Day of Rage” was declared by pro-freedom activists on 17 February.
We Libyans have come a long way since that fateful day on 1 September 1969, when Gaddafi and a group of 12 young officers, dubbed the Free Unionist Officers, seized power from King Idris Sanusi in a bloodless coup.
For me, this has been a 42-year journey of elation, hope, disappointment, betrayal and now blood and murder.
As a young boy aged 10, I was the first ever Libyan publicly to congratulate the Free Unionist Officers on their coup – what for many years I proudly called “the revolution”.
As with many of the adults I knew at the time, including all members of my family, I could not contain my excitement at the toppling of the monarchy, whose corruption, cronyism, intolerance, brutality and complete subservience to the USA and Britain could not but mark a deep imprint on my conscience, even as a child of 10.
So, in my euphoria, on the day of the revolution I asked my sister to help me write a letter of congratulations to the revolutionaries and then, during a gap in the curfew, I took it to an army officer manning a checkpoint near our house. To my surprise, he read it, jumped into his jeep and drove off. Two hours later, it was broadcast on state radio – the first and for many hours the only message of support to go on air.
I was ecstatic at the revolution and so was everyone I knew. The night of 31 August/1 September 1969 had been a sultry one and I had woken up at dawn on 1 September. The radio was on and I heard the revolutionaries’ “Communique Number One” as it was broadcast for the first time. Even now, 42 years later, listening to or reading the communique serves as a vivid reminder of that ecstasy.
Muammar Gaddafi reading Communique No. 1″ announcing the ouster of the Libyan monarchy, 1 September 1969
Those who understand Arabic can listen to the communique by clicking the audio player on the right, and an English translation is available here, but below is one passage:
People of Libya! In response to your own will, fulfilling your most heartfelt wishes, answering your incessant demands for change and regeneration and your longing to
strive towards these ends … your armed forces have undertaken the overthrow of the reactionary and corrupt regime, the stench of which has sickened and horrified us all.
From this day forward, Libya is a free, self-governing republic. She will … advance on the road to freedom, the path of unity and social justice, guaranteeing equality to all her citizens and throwing wide in front of them the gates of honest employment, where injustice and exploitation will be banished, where no one will count himself master or servant, and where all will be free, brothers within a society in which, with God’s help, prosperity and equality will be seen to rule us all… [emphasis added]
I remained loyal to Gaddafi and to the ideals of the revolution for many years after those exhilarating moments, even when his commitment to those ideals visibly began to wane. I grew up hoping that somehow the revolution will rediscover its tracks, that the numerous detractions, excesses and abuses were just blips, growing pangs of the revolutionaries. The seizure and pointless destruction of my father’s modest and perfectly legal business did not turn me against the revolution, nor did the shocking public hanging of Egyptian dock workers in 1974 – murdered simply to annoy Gaddafi’s erstwhile friend, Anwar Sadat – which I witnessed in person as a young teenager. Not even the murder of student protestors in Benghazi in 1975 or the inexplicable abuses against me personally whenever I encountered Libyan officials, such as when I visit the Libyan People’s Bureau in London, were enough to turn me against Gaddafi and his colleagues.
Such was the power of the hangover of the 1 September 1969 revolution, the power of the hope unleashed by that fateful event – a power whose potency had been magnified against the background of the 1967 defeat – that it seemed inconceivable to let go, to overcome the cognitive dissonance and see what was actually happening on the ground.
However, one cannot live in denial forever. To be sure, the absence of a decent, credible Libyan opposition did little to speed up my awakening. For many years, the choice was Gaddafi, the Islamists or the ultra-reactionary, super-rich monarchists. There were no – and as far as I am aware, there still are not – any significant, progressive, democratic Libyan opposition. For many years, therefore, my choice had to be Gaddafi, warts and all.
But the warts grew bigger and bigger. The repression, the corruption, the nepotism, the cronysim, the arbitrariness, the complete absence of the rule of law and the utter disregard for the most basic human rights every year reached proportions that I could barely imagine the year before. And Gaddafi evolved from clown, to an embarrassment, to a national disgrace, a weirdo and an insult to the honour and dignity of Libyans and all Arabs. The progressive, pan-Arab revolutionary had become a debauched, decadent, corrupt king, grooming one son then the other to be crown prince. We had gotten rid of a senile vassal only to end up with a degenerate lunatic.
And now we have a mass murderer who uses helicopters, missiles, artillery and brainless, imported mercenaries against his own fellow citizens, peaceful demonstrators who are asking for nothing more than their inalienable human and civil rights.
For most of my life I have been mistaken about Gaddafi and his regime. The fact that hindsight does wonders to one’s wisdom is no excuse. I owe it to our martyrs, to the dead and dying all over Libya – in Benghazi, Al-Bayda, Derna, Tobruk, Zintan, Ajdabya and many other places – to say I am sorry, to say that I have been wrong, that I have been a fool ever to give Gaddafi and his regime the benefit of doubt for so long.
The choice now is very stark. It is no longer Gaddafi or the Islamists and monarchists. The choice now is either to live in perpetual ignominy or to die with dignity.
As I write, up to 250 fellow citizens have chosen to die with honour rather than live in humiliation. With so much blood spilt and spilling, and with the unprecedented degree of brutality that we have been witnessing over the past few days, even living in humiliation to fight another day has ceased to be a choice.
The choice now is quite simple. It is either indignity or death in the hope that future generations may live with honour and dignity.
The West is doing the right thing in Libya
By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis
21 March 2011
Nureddin Sabir argues that opposition by the left and the anti-imperialist and anti-war movements to the NATO military action in Libya is misplaced and deeply flawed and that these movements should instead look forward to post-Gaddafi Libya and ensure that Libyans are left alone to rebuild their country and their lives without foreign interference.
A few moments ago France, the United States, Britain and other NATO countries launched air and cruise missile strikes against Libyan dictator Mu’ammar Gaddafi’s military installations, in implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
The resolution, passed on 17 March, called for a ceasefire and all necessary measures to protect Libyan civilians from Gaddafi’s murderous thugs, including the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya.
As a Libyan who has witnessed at first hand how the Gaddafi regime evolved into its present murderous self, I can only welcome the start of this military action. My only regret is that it did not take place earlier and thereby spare the lives of thousands of innocent civilians murdered by Gaddafi’s hired hands.
I say this as an anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, progressive pan-Arab nationalist. And it is from this vantage point that I witness with dismay our friends and natural allies, from the anti-war movement and George Galloway in the UK to Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and Daniel Ortega in Latin America, condemn the military action against Gaddafi as an imperialist plot whose aim is to seize Libyan oil.
Regrettably, it would seem that our friends have lost the plot on this occasion.
This is not about oil or money
First, oil has nothing to do with what is currently happening in Libya. Under the Gaddafi regime Western oil companies already controlled the country’s oil, and most of this oil was exported to Western countries anyway. So why would the US and its allies want to seize something they already controlled?
Nor is this about the US paving the way for its financial interests to control or buy up Libya. Gaddafi’s son and heir apparent, Saif al-Islam – a close friend of Israel’s far-right settler foreign minister, the fascist Avigdor Lieberman – enjoyed excellent relations with international billionaires such as Nathaniel Rothschild, crooks such as Bernie Madoff and dodgy Russians such as Oleg Deripaska, and would in time have opened up Libya to them and others like them. Therefore, if the motive behind the present NATO-led attack were financial, then surely NATO would have intervened to prop up the Gaddafi regime, not the reverse?
The wrong record
Friends on the left and in the anti-war movement, the particular record your are currently playing is inappropriate for the occasion. Please change it.
The plain fact is that France, the US, Britain and others are attacking Gaddafi’s thugs because they have no choice but to do so.
Although since his rehabilitation by the West Gaddafi has been a good friend to Washington, London and Paris, to the extent of participating in George W. Bush’s extraordinary rendition programme and turning Libya into one of the US’s torture sub-contractors in Africa, his unrestrained brutality against the protests that began peacefully in mid-February – brutality that has included the use of battlefield weapons against unarmed civilians – has embarrassed Paris, London and Washington beyond the point of tolerance. They had no choice but to act or else face another Rwanda or Cambodia.
Right suspicion, wrong opposition
Some of our friends accuse the United States, France and Britain of hypocrisy and double standards, arguing that these same countries shrugged their shoulders or tacitly supported similar or worse crimes committed by Israel, notably in Gaza, and are only willing to offer weasel word in the case of gross human rights violations committed by the regimes in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, among others.
That is very true. The United States and its allies in Britain, France and elsewhere are hypocrites who decry crimes against humanity in one place while simultaneously ignoring or supporting them in another. But that does not mean that we should denounce them when they actually do the right thing just because they are not doing the right thing across the board.
We have every right to be suspicious of the ulterior motives that may lie behind Barack Obama’s, Nicolas Sarkozy’s and David Cameron’s sudden dash for the moral high ground in Libya.
But it does not follow that our suspicion should automatically translate into opposition even when these leaders do the right thing to fulfill an urgent need, in this case protecting the Libyan people from a brutal, amoral, traitor who only a few days ago, on Thursday 17 March, promised to occupy Benghazi – a city of one million people – within hours and drown its inhabitants in blood.
Look to the future
The concern of our friends on the left and in the anti-war movement should be redirected away from opposition to the current NATO military action against Gaddafi’s thugs and towards what comes after Gaddafi.
If we really do care about justice and progress in Libya, then we should make sure that after Gaddafi the Libyan people are left alone to rebuild their state and create their own government, without Washington, Paris or London abusing whatever credit they accrue in the meantime to plant their own stooge.
Libya’s wealth and wellbeing can be safeguarded only by having a democratic, accountable government that is answerable to its own people, and its own people alone. That is something which only the Libyan people can do.
After their dreadful experience with the Gaddafi family, I have no doubt that they are up to the challenge.
“I was wrong to oppose military intervention in Libya – wrong, wrong, wrong”
By Yvonne Ridley in Benghazi
30 April 2011
Yvonne Ridley explains from Benghazi in eastern Libya why she was wrong to oppose Western intervention in Libya, which she now accepts was necessary to avoid the bloodbath Libyan mafia chief Muammar Gaddafi had planned for Libyans for daring to rise up against him.
Just a few weeks ago I stood on a public platform and vigorously slammed proposals for Western military intervention in Libya.
The hasty scramble by the Americans, French and Britons lacked strategy and a clear goal.
To me it appeared to be yet another oil-fuelled, reckless act by gung-ho leaders who would end up being sucked in to a long military campaign as futile as the Bush-Blair adventures into Iraq and Afghanistan that we are still paying for in terms of wasted lives.
“Here we go again,” I said. “Another imperialistic adventure with the long-term aim of getting our grubby hands on other peoples’ oil.”
To those few Libyans present, I warned they would live to regret this pact with the West that I likened to jumping into bed with the devil.
Being very conscious of the fact I’m not a Libyan and desperate at not wanting to be seen as another opinionated Westerner sticking my nose into matters I didn’t understand, I sought the views of many Libyan friends and contacts.
Their reaction was mixed, but more often than not I was told that without outside help the Libyan people would be slaughtered by Gaddafi who himself described those who opposed him as cockroaches that needed to be crushed.
To justify my stand I reasoned that all revolutions are bloody and that the heroic people of Tunisia and Egypt had paid the blood price in their hundreds to win freedom.
I even recounted Malcolm X telling people that if they were not prepared to die for it they should remove the word freedom from their vocabulary.
Of course, making grand statements from platforms in central London is one thing but going to see for myself what was happening on the ground was something else.
My few days in Libya proved to be extremely humbling, illuminating and provided me with a reality check.
I was wrong about opposing military intervention. No if, but or maybe – I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
The people of Libya would have been brutally crushed without mercy if the West had not responded to their cries for help.
Perhaps the greatest shame is that Arab leaders stood by emotionless as the Libyan people begged everyone and anyone for help to bring down Gaddafi.
Some of those Arab leaders had no such hesitation in answering cries for help from the oppressive royal regime in Bahrain – obviously the Saudis and rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council cabal felt uncomfortable helping to bring down an evil, brutal, dictator who routinely abused and oppressed his people while happily propping up another.
It could have been an opportunity for the rising regional power Turkey to step in to the breach but to the massive disappointment of the Libyan people Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to become embroiled.
So in the end the West did intervene and although the blood of innocents is still flowing in the streets at least it is not a torrent.
And maybe this is a war led by no one, with no particular aim, but the enforcement of the no fly zone has prevented a massacre.
That is the view held by one of Libya’s spiritual leaders, Sheikh Mohammed Bosidra, who told me: “We had no choice. It was either make a pact with NATO or be crushed. It was a matter of survival, as simple as that.”
However many have already paid the ultimate blood price. Each town and city has a special place for its martyrs, and there are many. Faces of young men stared back at me from family portraits proudly hung in the central square in Benghazi and what struck me was how young they were.
In Derna, more portraits of the sons of Omar al-Mukhtar hung in the town centre and some of the bodies have been buried in a cemetery next to the tombs of three Sahaba and 70 other martyrs who fought against Roman and Byzantine forces in 692AD.
“We have a very fine tradition of producing martyrs in Derna and that is why Gaddafi hates the people of Derna more than anywhere else in Libya,” one woman told me.
And then she pointed to a French Tricolor and a Union Jack whispering: “Thank you, we will never forget what you have done for us.”
I admit I felt uncomfortable, even a fraud, on several different levels by accepting her thanks. Usually I end up apologizing for the deeds of various British governments and empire so this was something new for me.
We are still not clear what is the endgame of the NATO-led force, but the Libyan people are crystal clear in one thing: Gaddafi must go.
Only then can they begin to work out the next move, and it won’t be easy.
The Interim Transitional National Council says it is committed to liberate every part of Libya from Aamsaad in the east to Ras Jdir in the west, and from Sirte in the north to Gatrun in the south.
But from what I could see the mission is unstable and unpredictable, chaotic, disorganized and confused.
However, what is undeniable is the bravery and courage of the Libyan people who we in the media routinely refer to as rebels. These people are not rebels. They are shopkeepers, students, doctors, businessmen and mechanics who have never owned a gun or wanted to pick one up in anger, until now.
And yet there they are tens of thousands prepared to die for freedoms and liberties they’ve never known in Gaddafi’s 41-year rule.
I was moved to tears by a regiment of young men who marched, rallied and chanted demanding to be sent to the front lines in Misrata to help their brothers in arms.
Their personally-delivered message in Benghazi was to the members of the interim government and they were extremely critical of some elements of the ITNC who they said were more interested in parading around with bodyguards intoxicated with the little power they had than making real decisions.
The criticism of the leadership was stinging but reassuring that these young men were not blind to the shortcomings of their own. Too often in the Middle East people are blind and unquestioning in their loyalty to their leaders.
It is clear to me that once Gaddafi is gone – and he will go – the Libyan people will not replace him with another tyrant or a Western puppet. Whatever government and constitution they choose will be one of their own making.
But first we in the West must give them all the help and support they need to accomplish the removal of Gaddafi until it is time for NATO to go in a dignified exit.
And who knows, for once, Western intervention might just be regarded as a force for good.
Clearing up myths and misconceptions about Gaddafi and the Libyan uprising
16 March 2011
Muhammad al-Arabi views some of the myths and misconceptions that are used by Libyan dictator Mu’ammar Gaddafi’s backers to justify supporting his murderous regime. He argues that, far from being a progressive anti-imperialist, Gaddafi has not only played a destructive role among national liberation movements, but has also stolen Libya’s wealth and impoverished its people.
Despite all the reports of mass murder and destruction wreaked on innocent civilians in Libya by dictator Mu’ammar Gaddafi’s home-grown thugs and foreign mercenaries, one cannot but be shocked by the fact that this criminal and thief still manages to delude some people who are fooled by his cheap tricks.
When you think of clever public relations and subtle propaganda, probably the last people who would come to mind are Gaddafi and his offspring. Thus, the fact that some people continue to be deluded by him and his supporters worldwide is certainly perplexing to Libyans and other Arabs who have lived in Libya.
Those who have lived in or are familiar with Libya will know that Gaddafi and his sons have no support among Libyans. But outside Libya, it would seem the the dictator is not short of supporters.
Hirelings and naives
By and large, the people who sing Gaddafi’s praises fall into two categories. First, there are those who have been paid by his regime, or else are recipients of his patronage. I won’t say anything about these: they are hirelings who would sell their souls to the highest bidder.
A second category of Gaddafi praise-singers comprises people who live outside Libya and have never witnessed at first hand how he has destroyed his country and stole its national wealth, murdered and incarcerated his people and betrayed those whose causes he supposedly espouses.
The image of Gaddafi in these people’s minds is that of the progressive, anti-imperialist who supports national liberation movements and who has brought health, education and economic wellbeing to his country.
But this image is utterly devoid of substance.
Friend of Israel, partner in “extraordinary rendition”
To begin with, Gaddafi’s “progressive anti-imperialist” phase lasted only five years after he came to power, from 1969 to 1974. After 1974, his relationship with national liberation movements became conditional and his support contingent upon these movements doing his dirty work, such as killing liberation movement leaders who would not subordinate themselves to him or murdering Libyan opponents abroad. Consequently, most genuine liberation movements shunned him.
The important thing to remember is that at no time since 1969 did Gaddafi’s support for progressive forces ever match his rhetoric. Those who still believe in this rhetoric would do well to ask themselves what kind of a progressive leader would appoint an heir apparent, as Gaddafi has done with his son Saif al-Islam, let alone an heir apparent who is best mates with Israel’s far, far-right settler foreign minister, the fascist Avigdor Lieberman, and was (and perhaps still is) “ romantically involved” with an Israeli actress, Orly Weinerman. And they should ask themselves why if Gaddafi were a progressive and anti-imperialist did he partake in George W. Bush’s extraordinary rendition programme, which turned Libya into one of the USA’s torture sub-contractors in Africa.
As for the country’s social and economic progress under Gaddafi’s rule, yes, Libya has made great strides socially and economically thanks to its huge oil wealth. But this is only a fraction of what it could have achieved had Gaddafi and his demented playboy sons not squandered the country’s wealth for their own benefit.
Remember, we are talking about a country with a population of 6.5 million and oil revenues of nearly 45 billion US dollars. We are also talking about a country which, despite its massive oil wealth and small population, has 30 per cent unemployment.
But what of the opposition? Are they any better? And should the outside world support them?
It is easy to forget amid the black cloud of civil war that is hovering over Libya that the current uprising began in mid-February as a series of peaceful protests by ordinary people demanding their civil and political rights. They were met with lethal violence by the regime, which used heavy weapons, helicopters as well as hired hands, and from there on the civil rights protests escalated to armed conflict, with the protestors arming themselves with weapons seized from arms dumps and secret police compounds.
The second point to remember is that this is not a war between competing tribes, as some ill-informed observers claim. Support for and opposition to the Gaddafi regime in fact crosses tribal boundaries, with the overwhelming majority of Libyans of all tribes actually against the regime, as evidenced by the fact that hundreds of thousands of people have braved the myriad of regime thugs, goons and killers to express their support for the uprising.
Finally, does “freedom and democracy” come from shoulder-held, short-range surface-to-air missiles, light guided anti-tank missiles, jamming of Gaddafi’s military communications and surgical air strikes against his command and communications centres, as I advocated in a previous post?
The answer is that, under the circumstances where the regime has not hesitated from using battlefield weapons against innocent civilians and peaceful protestors, yes, the world has an obligation to arm those who have risen up against the tyrant and who would else be sitting ducks for his goons.
As Andrew Rawnsley wrote in the Observer,
A defeat for freedom [in Libya] will radiate out into the rest of North Africa and the Middle East and beyond. There are a lot of rightly nervous dictators in the world at the moment: tyrants who fear copycat democratic revolutions. These dictators have a trilemma: do they reform, do they quit or do they attempt to crush their people’s aspirations for freedom? If Gaddafi prevails, his fellow dictators will have a template for what they should do when faced with revolt: kill the opposition without mercy in the confidence that the preachers of democracy in the West will do nothing more than wring their pathetic hands.
Muhammad al-Arabi is a social and political blogger based in London, UK, who has spent many years in Libya. A version of this article originally appeared on his blog, Painful Truths.
Dispelling Libyan myths
By Anne Marlowe
2 July 2011
Anne Marlowe debunks some of the common myths about the Libyan uprising prevalent among certain quarters in the West, from the myth that Libya is tribal, to the nonsense about the uprising being a “civil war”, to misinformation about the governance and forces of the anti-Gaddafi opposition.
In the two weeks since I returned from Free Libya, I’ve been amazed at how many people I talk to repeat the same misapprehensions about the country, the revolution and what the US is doing there.
I hear that Libya is “tribal”, that what is going on is a “civil war”, that we “don’t know anything” about the people currently governing eastern Libya. The average person I have talked to thinks that the free Libyan forces are either a bunch of Al-Qaeda or Islamists at best, or savage tribesmen. And everyone believes we are involved in training and supplying the free Libyan forces, with a fair number of people somehow having got the notion that we have special forces working on the ground.
So, a quick clarification is in order.
An urban society
Libya is probably less “tribal” than Italy is regional. It is a much more urban society than most Americans suspect, which has been part of the problem of the free forces: Benghazi kids are less likely to have camping, hiking or hunting experience even than New York kids. I saw only one outdoor goods store in Benghazi, a city of 800,000, and (a bit incongruously) one scuba equipment store. It is also a geographically dispersed society. There have been large movements of Libyans from one part of the country to another in the last 40 years, both for employment and for education (the Free Libyan capital, Benghazi, has the country’s oldest, biggest and most prestigious university). I met dozens of people in eastern Libya who had close relatives in Tripoli or Misrata or both. I didn’t meet anyone with relatives in the Nafusa Mountains, which seems more self-contained, like our Appalachia. Tribes, I’ve been told, serve a social function and adjudicate land issues in rural areas. But they no more have militias than, say, an American country club does.
Gaddafi versus the people
The war in Libya is often termed a “civil war”, but it is not. Civil wars pit two parts of the population against each other. But there is no discernible part of the population that supports Colonel Gaddafi actively, even in Tripoli. Where are the Gaddafi supporters? Where are their militias? The war is one of Gaddafi and his army against the people of Libya.
True, about 30 per cent of the population was at one time enrolled in Al-Lijan al-Thawriyyah, or “Revolutionary Committees”. These were part neighbourhood watch organizations, part death squads. Some joined to advance their careers, some due to blood ties to important Gaddafi regime figures, some out of conviction or bloodthirstiness. (There are certainly criminals and twisted souls in Libya, as anywhere else.) There will be big issues in re-integrating the true believers in Tripoli – but if they are numerous, they are certainly keeping a low profile now.
A word about Gaddafi’s army. From what I understand, Gaddafi dismantled the Libyan army that he inherited in 1969 when he took power. He threw officers of field grade or higher in jail if they were suspected of being loyal to the deposed king, or tossed them out. He installed his own army buddies in high positions. And in recent years, Gaddafi’s ambassadors to Niger and Mali are said to have offered Libyan passports to men willing to enlist in the army. They are not quite mercenaries, but they are not Libyans with roots in the country, either.
Interim National Council
What about the Libyan Interim National Council? (INC) Its members are definitely inexperienced, often bureaucratic – there are a lot of lawyers on it – but neither mysterious nor Islamist. I have heard criticisms of the council, and some are credible. The most grave is that they are not taking the management of the war seriously enough, that when asked to supply the free forces with one thing or another, they say something like, “We will study it.” (More on this later.)
Another complaint against the council, which will need more attention once Gaddafi goes, is a lukewarm commitment to women’s participation in governance. Libya has no tradition of this – there were no women in its very short-lived 1950s parliament – though Gaddafi did succeed in getting women equal pay for equal work. There are only two or three women on the 40-member body, and only one on the new 16-member Executive Office.
But it is worth noting that it is not clear that the INC will in fact be the governing body of a free Libya, once Tripoli falls. There is a much larger group in eastern Libya called the “Committee to Protect the Revolution of 17 February”, and it might evolve into a governing group. Many people ask why the free parts of Libya don’t hold elections. The answer is invariably that doing so would constitute a de facto splitting of the country.
“A tiny and frighteningly ill-equipped force”
Finally, the myths about the war: as I reported recently in the Wall Street Journal, the free Libyans in the field are a tiny and frighteningly ill-equipped force. In the Western mountains and near Misrata, the current front lines, the whole male military age population is mobilized, and the women provide food and treat the wounded. But the uniformed forces are very small – their deputy commander, an American-educated computer entrepreneur named Mustafa Sagezli, told me there is just a company in Misrata, a company in the Western Mountains and 1,200 men in the stalemated area between Adjabiya and Brega. (There is also one company in Jalou, near the oil fields, and three companies each in Tobruk, Benghazi and Kufra, in the deep south.)
We are doing next to nothing to help the free Libyan forces on the ground: no trainers, no non-lethal aid besides useless Meals-Ready-to-Eat (civil society groups feed the fighters), no weapons (Qatar has given assault rifles to the Libyan volunteers).
Who are these fighters? A broad range of Libyan men, from the poorly educated and unemployed to university graduates from rich families, men from Benghazi and men from Kufra, deep in the desert. I’ve met very religious volunteers and very secular ones. They are as diverse a lot, perhaps, as our own army – though there’s another mythology about that, of course. But enough for one day.
Anne Marlowe is a New York-based writer and visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington. She publishes frequently on Afghanistan’s politics, economy, culture and the US military intervention there.A version of this article was originally published in World Affairs.
Libya and the conspiratorial veil of Western racism
By Gordon Duff
23 March 2011
Gordon Duff views the unholy alliance of veiled racists, cranks, naive academics and Gaddafi propagandists who have lined up in opposition to the UN-authorized military intervention to protect the Libyan people from their dictator’s murderous thugs and mercenaries.
They are coming out of the woodwork, claiming to be “liberals” or “anti-war.” Any Arab uprising must be a Western plot. Those “brown people” can’t really be seeking democracy and freedom and certainly can’t stand up to the “globalist plotters” of the West. I have one reminder for those who think this way. Afghanistan.
On 25 February 2011 Veterans Today recommended immediate intervention in Libya. Few had died, Israel had shown its hand as Gaddafi’s backer and the writing was on the wall. Waiting would lead to civil war and large scale intervention, led by France, would risk the movement for democracy being pushed off track, as happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Arms and mercenaries flowed in, key media powers and the Israel lobby kept Obama sitting on his hands and, at the last minute – maybe beyond the last minute – there is a call to action.
Should we be suspicious? Damned right we should!
Should we forget the Libyan people’s right of self-determination and allow them to be crushed, not only by their own government but also by Israel’s African mercenary armies and every resource Gaddafi could buy with the West’s oil money – yes, money from Halliburton and BP? One only need to see the forces arrayed against the rebels, not just Global CST’s mercenaries but forces from Belarus and Georgia as well.
Geopolitics and “undoing” wrongs
Few currently involved in the endless debate over intervention in Libya, even – or perhaps especially – those who should know better, understand the real implications. They are living in the Bush-Blair years of Anglo-(Israeli)American fascism. They have no feeling for self determination, having lived on a diet of controlled dialogue, terrorism, oil, Arab “bucks” and the political left-overs of the Cold War.
During the 19th century (and before) Europe divided the world as though it were the Titans. The process really began in 1493 when Pope Alexander IV, with the Treaty of Tortsillas, divided the world between Spain and Portugal. More recently, the Treaty of Versailles created a Europe based on whim and fancy, one destined for a century of war and political struggle, a struggle alive and well in the Balkans as we speak. More damage, on a worldwide scale after World War II, with blunder upon blunder in North Africa and the entire Middle East, India and Pakistan, Vietnam in 1954 and, of course, the blunder of all time, Palestine.
The mess the West created in the Middle East – a series of rogue states, not just Israel, but also corrupt sheikdoms and puppet regimes, a mosaic of CIA failures that has victimized the Islamic world and set the stage for generations of human despair, extremism and conflict – is now threatened by forces pushing an agenda of secularism, modernization and democracy.
This has threatened the very roots of the globalist agenda that has been so “successful” over the past 20 years – Iraq, Afghanistan, the “republics” of the Caspian Basin, the destabilization and corruption of Pakistan, oil, gas, opium and war. Business has been good, generations of conflict assured, nations drowning in debt, populations frozen in poverty and pushed to radicalization.
Is it just possible that some have woken up and simply decided to get “off the bus”? Egypt is certainly proof of that.
The threat of self-determination
Gravity itself has been working to return the balance of self-determination, too often expressed in genocide as in Rwanda or wars that the strong always win. Add to the mix the Cold War, the needs of the imaginary global struggle, the “democratic” imperative and dictatorship as a hedge against the dangers of “socialism”.
The newer version is perhaps the most insane, rewriting the map based on keeping Americans “safe” from terrorism, which was caused, of course, by its own Cold War politics, thirst for oil and predilection for forgiving Israeli military adventurism.
What does the West owe the world? Seen in this light, is the intervention in Libya simply “balancing the books” for the ills of the past, erasing an evil creature of another era, long overdue for the scrap heap?
Some, like Richard Falk, cite Gaddafi’s evils but claim the West has no moral position unless it chooses to intervene in every similar case. He says:
Long ago Gaddafi forfeited the legitimacy of his rule, creating the political conditions for an appropriate revolutionary challenge. Recently, he has confirmed this assessment, referring to his own people as “rats and dogs” or “cockroaches”, and employing the bloodthirsty and vengeful language of a demented tyrant. Such a tragic imposition of political abuse on the Libyan experience is a painful reality that exists beyond any reasonable doubt, but does it validate a UN authorized military intervention carried out by a revived partnership of those old colonial partners, France and Britain, and their post-colonial American imperial overseer? I think not.
Falk’s rationale is explained below:
But just as the Libyan rebels raise some suspicion by seeking Euro-American military intervention, so did the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kosovo engage in terrorist provocations that led to violent Serb responses, allegedly setting the stage in 1999 for NATO’s “coalition of the willing”.
Falk, a brilliant scholar and humanitarian person, states his fears clearly. He doesn’t see people looking for self-determination but sees, instead, conspiracy. What he fails to address, other than the fact that there is absolutely no basis for his fears – not yet anyway – is that Gaddafi’s despotic rule, which he so aptly describes, has no political basis whatsoever and is entirely financed by all of us whenever we buy fuel.
Falk fails to take into account that, on day one, Gaddafi turned to Israel, cheque book in hand, demanding weapons and 50,000 mercenary troops to fight a ragtag of citizens with no heavy weapons. Stories of mass defections of troops and tank brigades backing the rebels have been proven fictitious. War, as usual, is the “mother of lies.” Falk needs to be more discerning.
In the last 24 hours we learned that Gaddafi’s claimed victims of the UN bombing campaign included victims of traffic accidents and the recently dead, gleaned from hospitals and mortuaries around Libya. The secret he is trying to hide is that the real dead, and there are dozens, are not from Libya at all. Libya’s entire air defence command is “rented” from Belarus and the dead are mercenaries.
Sometimes I have to keep myself from laughing. It is so easy to see how nations like the United States, Britain and Australia can fall under the control of “neo-feudalists” and corporate cabals. Any legitimate opposition to the status quo is immediately discredited by a lunatic fringe, a mixture of paid and unpaid disinformation agents and good old fashioned cranks. With most getting their news from the internet, people without the judgement necessary to buy carrots suddenly appoint themselves as “pundits”.
Combine this group with the “scholars”, most of whom have no real world experience and have learned to survive and even thrive in a university atmosphere where cronyism and cowardice have long since replaced activism and originality, and the failure of “dissent” is easy to understand.
Never has a single episode in recent years united quite as many cranks as those who suddenly see Colonel Gaddafi as the victim of a grand conspiracy. A few weeks ago, the same people cheered when the Egyptian army stood aside and President Mubarak was swept away in a popular democratic tide. Dozens of conspiracy theories had developed around Egypt’s revolution. Egyptians are now voting for their first democratic government in decades. Conspiracy theorists would deny them that. Egyptians, seen by the “internet intellectuals” as an inferior type, can’t be trusted to pick their own leaders.
Only Americans and the British and, oh yes, the Israelis can do that. We all know how that has worked out.
Now, one of the most infamous despots of the last century, one who, with Israel’s help, has scoured the world for mercenaries, one who unleashed his army on a ragtag force of pro-democracy freedom fighters, has become the hero to many.
It is funny that some would speak up now, not about the dead in Iraq or Afghanistan, not about the Ivory Coast, which few if any could locate on a map (I can see some running to Google now). Those crying for Gaddafi were the cheering throngs when Saddam’s statue was toppled and he was replaced by a wanted criminal working for oil companies.
But that president, a bumbling fascist, was white and enjoyed a 97 per cent approval rating, not just in America but also in Canada, Australia and Great Britain as well.
Before this, the same crowd cheered on the father and his Operation Desert Storm. We now know that war, to save the despots of Kuwait, a slave state, from Iraq, was very much another farce. America had authorized Saddam to move into Kuwait as Ron Paul tells Congress.
A short time afterwards, beneath a UN-authorized “no fly zone”, thousands of Kurds were murdered, killed because they had risen in support of that President Bush, killed because they had relied upon American promises and American decency. (British, Canadian and Australian decency too.) The Turks wanted the Kurds “thinned out”, so Bush did nothing.
Nobody said a word. Why?
The lunatic fringe
The internet is filled with tales of American and British oil companies trying to overthrow Gaddafi and “move in”. But first they would have to move BP and Halliburton out. They, along with 300 other British and American companies, have controlled Libya since 2004.
Then, of course, President Obama must be under the direct control of the oil companies, mustn’t he? During the last election the oil companies threw their billions behind John McCain. The oil companies are 100 per cent neocon, and 100 per cent rabidly opposed to Obama.
Then we have Gaddafi as the head of a “democratic” government, a popular “nationalist” leader. Gaddafi took over in 1969 through a military coup. He has never stood for election nor allowed a constitution. Libya has a hand-picked party congress, 2,700 members, who meet periodically. In truth, Gaddafi is a Stalinist but flexible enough to use his oil billions to buy a circle of friends.
Libya has an odd record on human rights. There is no constitution, no system of justice, Libya is a police state every bit North Korea…
A cynical view with “legs”
An analysis by Sami Jamil Jadallah adds an aspect of reality and accurate historical context in presenting an alternative motive to explain President Obama’s relatively “late” move to aid the rebels in Libya:
The delay, which seems coming as a result of Israeli intervention, allowed Gaddafi to gain the upper hand using his air and tank force to attack cities, towns and people with impunity. Any action the US takes now will for sure come too late for the millions of Libyan people who were looking for the “world community” to come to their assistance, not in terms of sending troops into Libya but through neutralizing Muammar air and tank force. At least giving the people an even chance to win the war of liberation.
According to news reports, Gaddafi, with the help of Israeli embassies in sub-Saharan Africa, has been heavily engaged in recruiting veteran African mercenaries and their Israeli handlers to fight on the side of his forces terrorizing the people. This is in addition to Israel neutralizing US political efforts to support the Libyan people.
One has to ask when the US ever needed the UN Security Council (UNSC) for anything it wants to do? It has engaged in many military campaigns and invasions without the authorization of the UNSC. Using the UNSC is only a tactical manoeuvre on the part of the US to allow Gaddafi to gain the upper hand, and then come out and says: “Well, we tried but other members of UNSC did not go along.” Once again, Israel, using its influence over Washington, was able to abort the people’s fight for liberation and freedom.
This should remind us of the US decision to abandon the people of southern Iraq when they rose against Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War. George Bush the father and his commander on the ground, General Schwarzkopf, did not intervene and enforce a no-fly zone over southern Iraq. This allowed Saddam to use helicopters to wipe out entire towns and kill tens of thousands of Iraqis in the first credible uprising against him. Then the excuse was that helicopters were not included in the no -ly zone. For sure Bush and his commanders should have anticipated Saddam’s use of helicopter to take revenge on the people of the south.
What we see today is no different from the past. Once again, the US abandoned the people midway through an uprising. Egypt and Tunisia were a different story since the army stood on the side and Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak failed to influence military commanders to take on the people.
Gaddafi and his “friends” are waging information warfare at every imaginable level. Foreign intervention began in Libya 24 hours after the first demonstrations when Gaddafi ran to Tel Aviv for help. However, reporting Israeli intervention is “anti-Semitism” and will never be seen nor heard, not even on Al-Jazeera, the supposed “Islam-friendly” news network. Al-Jazeera’s coverage has, at times, been all that’s out there but the spin deeply parallels Murdoch’s Fox News when examined carefully.
There is, in fact, no honest coverage at all and absolutely no evidentiary basis for anything expressed on Libya. The “analysis” is all easy to sort out, a hodgepodge of “outsiders” honestly trying to make sense of it all with nothing to work from and others, the “alternative media”, steeped in America hate and a desire to find a “bandwagon” to jump on for a bit of narcissistic “slimelight”.
Information management, Gaddafi’s theatrics with the press, staged morgue visits, his “victimization” game learned from Israel, is only part of it. As Jim W. Dean had just told me, the videos from Tripoli remind him of Israel’s fictional video of the Mavi Marmara. Falk and some – not all but some – journalists, including those enjoying Gaddafi hospitality, bought in on the theatrics. For those who don’t, remember the phony videos of the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara.
Gordon Duff is Senior Editor at Veterans Today.
The left’s double standards on Libya
29 March 2011
Jeffrey Blankfort highlights the hypocrisy of some leftists in Europe and the USA who, in the struggles they wage from their armchairs or behind their computers against the bogeyman of US imperialism, are happy to treat Libyan civilians as expendables and to support murderous Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi – as long as he appeared to be opposed by the West.
While the odds are that this so-called “humanitarian intervention” will end badly for the people of Libya, one factor that has been studiously ignored by its opponents and that effectively was used to justify the intervention in the first place was the repeated threats by both Muammar Gaddafi and his playboy son Saif al-Islam to carry out a door to door bloodbath against the people of Benghazi. Dictator and son declared them to be foreigners in the pay of Al-Qaeda, and Libyan tanks and armored personnel carriers were on the road to Benghazi to carry out their threats when they were attacked by French aircraft and destroyed.
Whether they would actually have carried out what they promised we will never know – neither Gaddafi nor his offspring are known for their mercy. But it must be understood that their threat to carry out a bloody massacre of major proportions was the equivalent of an engraved invitation to the Western countries to intervene in the name of, but not for, humanitarian reasons.
The belief that any country, and I mean any country, ever bases its foreign policy on humanitarian principles is belied by history and, in this instance, the records of the US, UK and France are certainly proof of that.
France’s Nicolas Sarkozy acted quickly because he stood to be embarrassed by the close relationship he had with both the colonel and his son which reportedly included the latter contributing considerable sums to his election victory. British ties to the Gaddafi regime also included payoffs to important Britons and the report that part of the deal to allow BP to obtain a lucrative exploration contract with Libya was the release from a Scottish prison of the man convicted, probably wrongly, of the Lockerbie bombing.
There is strong evidence that this intervention was not something the Obama administration wanted or needed at this time, just as he was taking off on a long-postponed trip to Latin America and his party was engaged in a major budget fight with the Republicans. Moreover, it was Defence/War Secretary Robert Gates who first publicly objected to the no-fly zone because it could not be enforced without taking out Libya’ air defences, which would be an act of war. The French and British positions, however, made it difficult for Washington not to participate and in a major way.
Over the years Gaddafi and his sons have not only spread their oil revenues throughout Africa, buying support through various projects, including funding the military force of the African Union, but they have also hosted a number of well known American activists. Like those who travelled to the Soviet Union and its East bloc satellites in past decades, these saw the equivalent of Libya’s Potemkin villages and came away sincerely believing that he was a progressive “socialist” while ignoring the fact that he was a dictator who tolerated no political dissent.
Once one commits oneself to the belief that certain individuals are beyond criticism, as we saw first with Stalin when otherwise intelligent people set aside their critical thinking faculties, it should not be surprising that there has been no mention by those defending Gaddafi of his collaboration and that of his intelligence services with the CIA in Bush’s and now Obama’s so-called “war on terror”, and of reports that Libya was part of Bush’s “extraordinary rendition” network.
Nor have we heard about his ordering the murder of 1,200 prisoners in Benghazi in 1996.
This sad state of events exposes a glaring problem that has characterized a significant segment of the US and Western left going back to the days of Stalin, and that is its tendency to see everything in black and white terms.
For this segment, which has been out in full force on this issue, the only criterion necessary to judge a dictatorship or a dictatorial central committee is where it stands in respect to US and Western imperialism.
If it is opposed by the US and its allies, it must be defended, regardless of the fact that it might be a police state which denies to its peoples the right to dissent politically from official government policies and practices and to organize opposition to that government – that is, free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association. How different, in the end, are the double standards of that segment of the left from those wielding power in Washington? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent statements to the contrary, the White House doesn’t care about what the dictators who collaborate with the US do to their people. As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said of the Nicaraguan dictator, Anastasio Somoza, “he may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch!”
The double standards of that segment of the left was, without a doubt, one of the reasons the peoples of the former Soviet satellites, all of which were police states, when they were struggling for their liberation, turned to the likes of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who opportunistically reached out to them and not to the left in the US and the West that had shown them their backs as they are doing to the people of Libya today.
To add to this, well before the Libyan situation developed, numerous websites and many bloggers, most of whom know next to nothing about the region, stated, as if it were fact, that the uprisings throughout North Africa and the Middle East have all been orchestrated by, take your pick, (1) the US through the National Endowment for Democracy and a handful of non-governmental organizations or (2) George Soros, through his Open Society programmes or, if you wish, both.
I suspect that if these movements had avowed what these “experts” considered to be a “socialist” or “anti-imperialist” agenda instead of making demands for such bourgeois concepts as free speech, freedom of the press and the right to organize politically, they might have considered their uprisings indigenous and legitimate. Since they didn’t, they obviously must be manipulated by nefarious outside forces.
Let’s face it. The Libyan situation provides us with no easy answers, and perhaps, with no answers at all. Human problems are not mathematical problems and, more often than not, there are no good attainable solutions – emphasis being on the word, attainable.
The die on Libya has been cast. Now we will just have to see how it plays out.
Jeffrey Blankfort is a US-based radio producer and campaigner for Palestinian rights. A former editor of the Middle East Labour Bulletin and co-founder of the Labour Committee of the Middle East, he is founding member of the November 29 Coalition on Palestine. In February 2002 he won a sizable lawsuit against the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for its vast illegal spying against him and other peaceful political groups and individuals, including anti-apartheid activists.
Libya and hypocrisy of the “left”
4 July 2011
Sami Jamil Jadallah reminds the fake “leftists” and “anti-imperialists” who are flocking to defend Libyan mafia boss Muammar Gaddafi of the dictator’s litany of crimes against his own people, including mass murder, his theft of his country’s wealth and his longstanding friendship with Israel, the world Zionist movement and American neo-conservatives.
The winds of change are sweeping the Arab world. Thanks to the people of Tunisia and Egypt the Arabs are experiencing a momentous claim for new history, a new renaissance.
We have all watched their calls for democracy, freedom, rights of citizenship, accountability, transparency and limitations on tenures, where governments are servants of the people, not their masters. The winds of freedom will, sooner than later, come to Palestine. Neither Israel nor the US will be able to stop the cries for freedom and liberation. Time for the Jewish occupation to end.
Gaddafi’s naives brigade
The American or for that matter the Arab “left” must not be fooled by killers and murderers, such as Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar Assad, just like they were fooled by the likes of Saddam Hussein before.
The claims of being anti-imperialists, anti-colonialist, anti-Americans, anti-Western, anti-Israeli and anti-Zionists and pro-liberation and resistance to the Israeli occupation must not be an excuse for these dictators to kill, murder, oppress, run police states and squander hundreds of billions of the people’s wealth.
Also, it must not be an excuse for those on the “left” who have stood up for liberation to side with the dictators. That liberation must also apply to the people and citizens of Libya, Syria, Sudan and Yemen to be free to choose their own leaders and to have their own liberations from these oppressive dictatorial regimes.
Reading through Veterans Today and other media, I had to take to the typewriter and address the likes of former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and my colleague Franklin Lamb, a man who I much admire and respect for his many years of advocacy of Palestinian rights in Lebanon. They are, I am sad to say, taking up the cause of Gaddafi in his fight against his own people. It is worth remembering that the first thing Gaddafi did was enlist Israel to recruit African mercenaries to shoot and kill his own people.
Stealing the people’s wealth
Gaddafi has been in power in Libya for over 41 years, running the country and its people as if it were his own privately owned estate for his benefits and that of his family, associates and those within his own intelligence services.
With a population of just some six million people, Libya should be one of the wealthiest countries in Africa. Libya should be no different from Dubai, or for that matter Brunei, with a standard of living unmatched anywhere in the Middle East, let alone in the world. But Gaddafi and his family squandered hundreds of billions in Africa and on corrupt African dictators and, of course, in support of not liberation but terrorist organizations throughout the world.
The issue here is not what happened to the hundreds of billions of the Libyan people’s money (recently, it was announced that the Zionist-run banking house Goldman Sachs lost a mere 1.3 billion dollars of the Libyan people’s money on currency speculations). The issue, rather, is Gaddafi and the criminal enterprise he ran under the name of “the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”.
Gaddafi ran a police state no different to Saddam Hussein’s or Bashar Assad’s Ba’athist regimes, or for that matter Kim Jong-Il’s North Korea.
A police state that murders students and prisoners
Gaddafi aped the East German secret police state. Under his rule, 10-20 per cent of the Libyan population worked as spies and informers, “dissent” is prohibited and punishable according to law 73 of 1973, and “political” conversations with foreigners are illegal and punishable by three years’ imprisonment.
While Abu-Ghuraib prison will always remain an indictment of the George Bush occupation of Iraq, and Al-Khiam Prison will remain forever a reminder of the cruel and criminal Israeli occupation of South Lebanon, Gaddafi went one step further.
In 1996 he ordered the execution of over 1,200 prisoners in Abu Salim Prison where the prisoners were murdered by his security services in less than three hours. One of those executed was Fu’ad Assad bin-Omran whose family, in an interview with Lindsey Hilsum of Channel 4 (1 March 2011), reported how:
…they had gone to the prison for over a year and half on a regular basis [after he was killed], thinking he was alive and waiting two or three days to see him. “They told us he was there, but we weren’t allowed to see him”.
Gaddafi was especially ruthless in dealing with student dissent. Muhammad al-Abdallah, the deputy secretary-general of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, is quoted by Al-Jazeera as saying:
In the 1970s he [Gaddafi] publicly hung students who were marching, demonstrating, demanding rights in Benghazi and in Tripoli and other places. These stories among others are coming out now because the wall of fear and silence in the Arab world has been broken and breached forever.
Supporting Bosnian Serb war criminals, neo-Nazis
Gaddafi is not the “revolutionary man” he is portrayed to be. He supported the likes of war criminal Slobodan Milosevic as he engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia and he supported die-hard Orthodox Serbs in their war against Bosnian Muslims. Gaddafi was also a close friend of right-wing Nazi sympathizer and Islamophobe Austrian politician Joerg Haider.
Gaddafi not only snuffed out local dissent, but took his fight against Libyan dissidents all over the world where Libyan “diplomats” engaged in assassinations and cold-blooded murder. For example, in April 1984, while I was in London, a Libyan “diplomat” fired at peaceful Libyan demonstrators outside the Libyan embassy, killing British police officer Yvonne Fletcher , who was guarding the demonstration, and wounding 11 demonstrators.
It is also well known that Gaddafi funded and sponsored some anarchists groups such as the Red Brigades, who were responsible for bombing attacks in Rome and Vienna airports killing 19 and wounding 140. The bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie and the French UTA over Niger will always remain the largest mass murder committed by Gaddafi and his regime outside Libya.
Targeting Palestinians in Libya
The Palestinians were not immune from Gaddafi’s erratic behaviour, notwithstanding his claims of being a supporter of the Palestinian quest for liberation.
The Journal of Palestine Studies (No. 29, Winter 1997) carried a full account of the cruel abuse and suffering of Palestinians living and working in Libya. In retaliation for Yasser Arafat’s signing of the Oslo accords, Gaddafi announced in his 1 September 1994 speech his plans to “expel” more than 30,000 Palestinians, mostly skilled and professional workers (unlike most Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan).
Gaddafi ordered the Ministry of Labour not to renew any work permits for Palestinians, or issue new permits, or allow any Palestinians with families to return to Libya. Thousands of Palestinians were forced to march towards the Egyptian borders where Hosni Mubarak would not allow them passage. Thousands were stranded in camps in the hot and cold Libyan desert.
Gaddafi is quoted as saying: “All I do is in their best interests, no matter how they suffer, even if they remain in the camps for years to come”.
A friend and admirer of Israel
Israel was never too far in the minds and actions of Gaddafi where he engaged in the cultivation of relations with “Libyan” Jews as a way of opening the gate to Washington for Gaddafi and his family.
According to the Israeli magazine Israel Today (4 March 2011), as far back as 2007 the Gaddafi regime initiated a relationship with Libyan Jews, offering large sums of money for the formalization of a “Libyan political party” to run in the 1997 Israeli national elections.
According to the magazine, Meir Kahlon, head of the World Organizations of Libyan Jews, told the Jerusalem Post that between 2005 and 2007 he (Kahlon) travelled to Jordan on a number of occasions to meet with Libyan officials. However, these repeated meetings stopped later on.
Gaddafi used his connections with Israel and with world Zionist groups to seek a foothold for him in official Washington, and in 2003 he announced that he would abandon his programme of “weapons of mass destruction”. This, of course, gave great relief to Israel and its allies in Washington (not that Gaddafi was a serious threat to Israel), and George Bush formally ended the US trade embargo against Libya.
A murderer feted by Western leaders
Tony Blair, was the first Western leader to visit Gaddafi in 2004 when many of Blair’s Western counterparts all of sudden discovered Gaddafi the statesman. He was soon invited to Italy, France and Spain, among other nations, as well as the UN. And he was feted as if he were a conquering general, forgetting that he was in fact a criminal who killed Italian, French, Americans, British and, most of all, his own people.
All were too keen in getting piece of the cake – tens of billions of dollars’ worth of contracts for weapons and industrial projects. Nicolas Sarkosy, Silvio Berlusconi, Tony Blair, George Bush, even Barack Obama all forgot the tens of thousands of Libyan executed over 41 years of Gaddafi’s reign and forgot the tens of thousands of people killed in his many wars in Africa and the hundreds killed in Northern Ireland.
Hillary Clinton feted Gaddafi’s son, Al-Mu’tasim Billah, at the State Department as recently as 21 December 2009. Of course, millions of dollars to both neocon Republican and Democratic public relations firms did the trick in polishing the picture of Gaddafi’s regime, just like Gaddafi is doing now with activist journalists on the “left” and the right. When it comes to money and recognition, principles always go out of the window.
Let no one be fooled, Gaddafi was a megamaniac who loved money – much of it – and deposited billions of dollars in Austria, Switzerland, France, England and the US. The fact that he always appeared in public receiving officials in his modest “tents” should not hide the fact that Gaddafi and members of his family looted the country.
Gaddafi’s children are well known to live the high and wild life style of the rich and famous, throwing wild parties in the Caribbean, Rome, Vienna and Marrakech, and spending millions of dollars on artists such as Maria Carey and pop star Beyonce. The behaviour of Gaddafi’s children was no different from the behavior of the children of Saddam Hussein’s Uday and Qusay.
Gaddafi’s contempt for his people is well know. It goes back some 41 years and includes his so-called Green Book, his “Green Revolution” and his “Jamahiriya”, or rule by people’s committees where no one is ever held accountable for, or is in charge of, anything. While Gaddafi is keen on saying that he holds no public position and is only a “leader”, the fact is that he, his family and his intelligence services run everything.
Faced with peaceful public protest in mid-February, Gaddafi and his family members, rather than opening a dialogue with the protestors, decided to send in the army against their own people. Misrata and other towns are a testament to the crimes he has committed against his own people. According to Kelly Moore, former UN spokesperson in Bosnia, is quoted in the Christian Science Monitor as saying that Misrata is “no different from Sarajevo”.
Public relations campaigns, no matter how expensive or polished, should never cover up crimes committed by any leader anywhere in the world.