From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Aug 28 2011 - 06:26:23 EDT
Libya's imperial hijacking is a threat to the Arab revolution
Only when those who fought Gaddafi force Nato to leave will Libyans be able
to take control of their country
* Seumas Milne <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/seumasmilne>
* <http://www.guardian.co.uk> guardian.co.uk, Sunday 28 August 2011
They don't give up. For the third time in a decade, British and US forces
have played the decisive role in the overthrow of an Arab or Muslim regime.
As rebel forces pressed home their advantage across Libya under continuing
Nato air support , politicians in London and Paris preened themselves on
their role as the midwives of a "new Libya".
It's all supposed to be different this time, of course. The lessons of the
west's blood-drenched occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are said to have
been learned: no boots on the ground, UN backing, proper planning and
Libyans in the lead. But the echoes of Baghdad and, even more, Kabul have
been eerie - and not only in the made-for-TV images of the sacking of
compounds and smashing of statues, or the street banners hailing Nato
As in Afghanistan in 2001, the western powers have taken sides in a civil
war, relying on air power and special forces to turn the tide against an
unpopular authoritarian regime.
In Libya, the basis for foreign military intervention has been the claim
that Muammar Gaddafi's forces were about to carry out a massacre of
civilians in Benghazi after he threatened to hunt down armed rebels "house
to house". Violent repression was certainly meted out against a popular
uprising, but once insurrection had morphed into war there's little evidence
that the regime's troops were in a position to overrun an armed and hostile
city of 700,000 people. And reports from Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have
since cast serious doubt on a string of
-gaddafi-ordered-rape-as-weapon-of-war-2302037.html> war atrocity stories
used to justify Nato bombing.
But they helped deliver
<http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/sc10200.doc.htm> UN resolution 1973,
authorising "all necessary means" to protect Libyan civilians. That has
since been used as Nato's fig leaf to justify the onslaught against Gaddafi
and deliver regime change from the air. And while the western powers claimed
to be saving lives, thousands have died on the ground - including uncounted
numbers of civilians killed by Nato's own air attacks, such as the
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14486170> 85 reported incinerated
near Zlitan earlier this month.
If stopping the killing had been the real aim, Nato states would have backed
a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement, rather than repeatedly vetoing
both. Instead, after having lost serious strategic ground in the Arab
revolutions, the Libyan war offered the US, Britain and France a chance to
put themselves at the heart of the process while bringing to heel an
unreliable state with the largest oil reserves in Africa.
None of that means the euphoria on the streets of Libyan cities at the fall
of a regime long decayed into dynastic despotism isn't entirely genuine. Or
that the rebels who fought their way across the country haven't made heavy
sacrifices for a victory they regard as their own - let alone that Libyans
were incapable of bringing down the Gaddafi regime by themselves.
But the facts are unavoidable.Without the 20,000 air sorties, arms supplies
and logistical support of the most powerful states in the world, they would
not be calling the shots in Tripoli today. The assault on the capital was
supported by the heaviest Nato bombardment to date. Western
tml> intelligence and special forces have been on the ground for months - in
mockery of the UN - training, planning and co-ordinating rebel operations.
It was the leading Nato states that championed and funded the Transitional
National Council - including members with longstanding CIA and MI6 links -
and officials from Nato states who drew up the stabilisation plan now being
implemented on the ground.
However glad people are to see the fall of the Gaddafi clan, it's clear that
such intimate involvement of the US and the former colonial powers taints
and undermines the legitimacy of Libya's transformation. They will expect a
payback for their investment in the Libyan war: in oil and commercial deals,
political support and perhaps even the return of western military bases.
The British government's refusal to rule out sending troops to take part in
a "stabilisation operation" is an ominous sign of where Libya may be
heading. And if Libyans end up with the kind of democracy foisted on Iraq
and Afghanistan, courtesy of their western advisers, that will be no
liberation at all.
Beyond Libya, the apparent success of Nato's operation has given an
unwelcome boost to the doctrine of pick-and-choose liberal interventionism,
just as its dangers had come to be recognised in the wake of the disasters
of the war on terror. That matters in the Middle East now more than ever.
Since the Arab revolution despatched two western-backed dictators in quick
succession at the start of the year, there has been a three-pronged drive by
the west to bring it under control. In Egypt, US and Saudi money has been
poured in to suborn it. In Bahrain, conservative Gulf states have been given
support to crush the uprising by force. And in Libya, the western powers
have attempted to hijack it, while channelling covert support to the
brutally repressed opposition in Syria.
There are many in the region who now hope the fall of Gaddafi will give new
momentum to the stalled Arab awakening, bringing down another autocrat,
perhaps in Yemen. But the risk could instead be that it sends a message that
regimes can only now be despatched with the armed support of Washington,
London and Paris - available in the most select circumstances.
Nato's intervention in Libya is a threat to the Arab revolution, but the
forces that have been unleashed in the region won't be turned back so
easily. Many of those who have fought for power in Libya, including
Islamists, clearly won't accept the dispensation that's been prepared for
them. But only when Nato and its bagmen are forced to leave Libya can
Libyans truly take control of their own country.
------------[ Sent via the dehai-wn mailing list by dehai.org]--------------