Who Will Save Libya From Its Western Saviours?

Last March, a coalition of Western powers and Arab autocracies banded together to sponsor what was billed as a
short little military operation to “protect Libyan civilians”.

On March 17, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 which gave that particular “coalition of the willing” the green light to start their littlewar by securing control of Libyan air space, which was subsequently used to bomb whatever NATO chose to bomb. The coalition leaders clearly expected the grateful citizens to take advantage of this vigorous “protection” to
overthrow Moammer Gaddafi who allegedly wanted to “kill his own people”.  Based on the assumption that Libya was neatly divided between “the people” on one side and the “evil dictator” on the other, this overthrow was expected to occur within days.  In Western eyes, Gaddafi was a worse dictator than Tunisia’s Ben Ali or Egypt’s Mubarak, who fell without NATO intervention, so Gaddafi should
have fallen that much faster.

Five months later, all the assumptions on which the war was based have proved to be more or less false. Human rights organizations have
failed to find evidence of the “crimes against humanity” allegedly ordered by Gaddafi against “his own people”.  The recognition of the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the “sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people” by Western governments has gone from premature to grotesque.  NATO has entered and exacerbated a civil war that looks like a stalemate.

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One Response to Who Will Save Libya From Its Western Saviours?

  1. Betty Werther says:

    My comments would be too voluminous but I would give my kingdom for Diana Johnstone’s e-mail. Nonetheless, herewith my Libya “rants and ravings” born (the R and R, not me) in Mali when viewing Libyan-financed projects there and remembering having written (for UNESCO) about the Great Manmade River and LEPTIS MAGNA, also reports from a friend who lied in Tripoli for three years – then falling onto the hallucinating “Lockerbie Appeal Files”. Most of what we can write now falls in the domain of archives but should be on the record of course. Thanks!!!


    If the Scottish government has its way, the « Appeal File » of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi will soon be released. The new SNP (Scottish National Party) administration intends to present legislation before Parliament to allow publication of papers from the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) which says there were six grounds where it believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred. Megrahi’s lawyers list 20, including details of deliberately undisclosed evidence at the original trial, allegations of « tampering « with evidence , a $2 million witness payment, and a summary of how American intelligence agencies were convinced that Iran, not Libya, was involved but that their reports were not open to the 2001 trial.

    Despite discussions with the SCCRC, the Crown Office, the Foreign Office and the police appear reluctant to disclose the files, notably a top secret document from an « undisclosed third country » which would clear Megrahi, who has always declared his innocence, but also raise serious diplomatic and political issues surrounding the case and threaten Scottish justice. The Crown Office in Edinburgh reportedly rejoiced when Megrahi was released on the condition that he drop the appeal.

    Thanks to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, however, The Daily Mail and other newspapers more recently revealed memos from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) suggesting that the 1988 downing of Pan Am Flight 103 was in response to the shooting down of an Iranian Airbus by the Amerian warship USS Vincennes five months earlier. In a memo dated September 24, 1989 and reproduced in the appeal submission, the DIA states : « The bombing of the Pan Am flight was conceived, authorised and financed by Alu-Akbar Mohtashemi-Pur, Iran’s former interior minister. Execution of the operation was contracted to Ahmad Jibril, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command leader for a sum of $1 million. (http:/www.dailymail.co.uk news article 1208432-witness)

    However, Libya did also have motives. On April 15 1986, President Ronald Reagan ordered an airstrike on Libyan cities Tripoli and Benghazi involving 33 planes which dropped 60 tons of munitions, killing at least 60 people, including Qadaffi’s 15-month old (adopted) daughter. The raid was in retaliation for the bombing by three Libyan agents on April 5, 1986, of a Berlin discotheque frequented by U.S. soldiers. Three people were killed, a Turkish woman and two U.S. sargeants and 230 wounded including 79 American servicemen. This attack was, in turn, in retaliation for a U.S.-Libyan naval clash over rights to the Gulf of Sidra, in which 35 Libyan seaman were killed, and so on and on…

    Indeed, the never-ending vicious circle of U.S.-Libya skirmishes over the years is positively Biblical: an eye for an eye for an eye…

    So if Megrahi (and Libya) is cleared, what can we then hold against Qadaffi ? The Bulgarian nurses? His anti-Western rants and ravings, his weird dress and behavior, the fact that he (at least until recently) lived in a tent, environmentally correct but at odds with the other dictators who boasted/boast luxurious palaces?

    And, indeed, what will happen to the $270 billion Qadaffi paid in compensation to victims’ families as the “price of peace” and to rid Libya of crippling sanctions? Might Libya ask for a refund?

    173 DEAD

    Before French philosopher Bernard Henri Lévy went to Benghazi and was told by what we have been calling a “ragtag bunch of rebels » that Qadaffi was about to massacre his people, before Uri Avnery started screaming Holocaust and Susan Rice sought at the UN to « prevent another Rwandan genocide » but well after « small groups of C.I.A. operatives « (IHT 31/3/11) were already there, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported 173 dead. mainly in Brega, before the NATO bombings began. This is hardly comparable to the repression now taking place in Yemen and especially Syria (where a UN official estimated that as many as 850 protesters may have been killed, mainly by security forces, since mid-March). Apparently the International Criminal Court is alone in knowing who in Libya is killing whom.

    Given that one of the main characteristics of Qadaffi’s megalomania is his total identification, quasi amalgam, with the Libyan people, to massacre them would be an admission of suicide. Equally aberrant is the accusation of genocide since Libya is/was largely free of ethic and religious conflicts (if not tribal), with a population 95% Arab-Berber and Sunni Moslem.

    Misquoting Qadaffi, and his son Seif al-Islam has become a universal parlor game. Even respected international lawyer Richard Falk who opposed the NATO intervention, wrote that Qadaffi “referred to his OWN PEOPLE as “rats and dogs” whereas, in his early speech on Libyan state television, he applied the insult specifically to “ THOSE TRYING to end his rule”, certainly not his OWN PEOPLE who seem to be holding out despite over 50 British air strikes a day and 10,000 NATO bombings of key targets one every half hour, since these began in February. Indeed, whereas tens of thousands of Syrians, and thousands of Tunisians and other nationals, have fled or are fleeing their countries, there have been few reports of Libyans leaving.

    The greatest humanitarian drama as a result of the turmoil involves some one million and a half foreign immigrant workers, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa who left often harsh conditions in their own countries to find jobs in Libya. Their forced departure is not only a great loss for Libya, but also deprives their families and countries of sorely needed income, Between 200 and 300,000 Malians have returned home, but many thousands of other migrants are now crowded into refugee camps, or miraculously have made it to Italy, exacerbating Europe’s already 0verwhelming immigration problem. Nearly a thousand have drown in attempts to reach the Island of Lampedusa. And added to this is the probable loss of vast Libyan investments throughout Africa where, if not always a hero, Qadaffi is still a household word.

    In the 1950s Libya was the poorest country in Africa. Earlier this year, it had the highest per capita GDP (PPP) on the continent, at between $13
    and $16,000 (depending on the index: World Bank, IMF or CIA Factbook – considerably higher than Egypt (around $6,000) or Tunisia ($9,000). Life expectancy at birth stands at 77.65 (75.34 male ; 80 female, est. 2011) Basic educational and gender indicators were also good with an adult (people over 15) literacy rate of 88.4 per cent and a gross education enrolment rate of 92 per cent, levels that are among the best in the region. The literacy rate for adult women is 72 per cent and female enrolment at the secondary level is almost the same as that for males. In addition, women have a level of representation in most areas of work and society comparable to that in countries high on the Human Development Index. An article datelined Tripoli (AP), posted on Huffpost World (June 8, 2011) in fact heads « Gaddafi’s Biggest Fans Include Taboo-Breaking Libyan Women ».

    A 2005 study undertaken by C.A.I.M.E.D. (Centre for Administrative Innovation in the Euro-Mediterranean Region » in its series on « Welfare in the Mediterranean Countries » states that Libya’s « Overall human development indicators are among the best in the African continent and above the mean for the Arab world. » (UNPAN019179 (6)pdf). Under its section on « Health Care » – guaranteed to all Libyan citizens – the report nonethless states that « the system suffered greatly since the 1980s because of UN sanctions and Libya’s isolation. It became difficult to obtain medicine, surgical supplies and parts to repair medical equipment. Patients could not leave the country to get specialized treatments abroad.


    With only 5 per cent of the country getting at least 100 mm of rainfall yearly, Libya is one of the driest countries in the world. To ensure survival of his country in a thirsty world, Qadaffi, in 1983, initiated the Great Man-Made River (GMMR), commonly recognized as the world’s largest irrigation project. Carrying over six million cubic meters of water per day through a network of nearly 5000 K of pipeline from Libya’s vast underground aquifers, the GMMR provides 70% of the population with water for drinking and irrigation. It is estimated that, at current rates of dispersal, the GMMR can continue flowing for the next 1000 years (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/may/27/libya-water)

    So WHY LIBYA ?

    Why are « We » so determined to oust Qadaffi, leaving absolutely no room for negotiations, many times proposed, not only by Qadaffi and his son Seif, but also heads of at four African states representing the African Union. ?

    Why suddenly after 3 years since he gained his doctorat at the London School of Ecoomics (LSE) has such a concerted effort been made to discredit Qadaffi’s son Seif al-Islam, claiming that his thesis was largely plagiarized (his professors quickly came to his defense), forcing the LSE to return Libyan donations of nearly $2 million (earmarked for research into study and improvement of public administration) and Director Howard Davies to resign. ?

    WHY ? did Wikipedia’s article on Qadaffi, perfectly NPOV (Neutral Point of View) beginning February, become so flagrantly anti–Qadaffi after the NATO intervention that the editors were forced to head «The neutrality of this article is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page . Remarking on Qadaffi’s action in favor of women and his attempt to promote religious diversity, one contributor therein claims « that the uprising was planned and executed by a small think-tank out of London called the National |Conference for the Libyan Opposition whose website clearly lists religious grounds as the primary cause for the removal of Qaddafi ». And the same contributor continues « We are aiding a fundamentalist religious group to over throw a secular leader who has spent the last 30 years making Libya the most prosperous and egalitarian society in Africa »


    The « infamous » Alex Jones is not the only one to « suggest » that « The no-fly zone and attacks on the Libyan military by NATO and the U.S. « have nothing to do with democracy and free elections. It’s all about oil – and who owns it. » (Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, March 29, 2011 with very pertinent details) )

    For, in fact, Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa with 42 billion barrels of oil and over 1.3 trillion cubic metres of gas. With only 25% of Libya’s surface territory explored to date there is every chance that actual reserves could see this figure dwarfed in coming years.

    As Europe’s single largest oil supplier, the second largest oil producer in Africa and the continent’s fourth largest gas supplier, Libya dominated the petroleum sector in the Southern Mediterranean area and had ambitious plans for the future. Moreover Libyan oil is of especially high quality.

    More than 50 international oil companies were present in the market and together with subsidiaries of the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) contributed to the country’s production capacity of 2m b/d. NOC planned oilfield investment of some $10bn over the coming three years to increase potential production.

    When, in 2004, President George W. Bush lifted sanctions on Libya in return for its renunciation of nuclear weapons and terrorism, oil executives eagerly prepared to return to the Libyan oil fields. But in 2007, a State Department cable reported « growing evidence of Libyan resource nationalism…that could jeopardize efficent exploitation of Libya’s extensive oil and gas reserves ». AND, the last straw fell in 2009 when Qadaffi proposed (further) nationalizing Libyan Oil and « distributing the oil wealth to Libyan citizens. This obviously made him a mad dog who had to go. His Minstersd wouldn’t let him do it.


    The whole procedure carries many of us back to Iran in 1953 when the CIA helped Britain ouste another « mad dog », Mohammed Mossadegh, after the democratically elected Prime Minster of Iran nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now British Petroleum), ushering in the pro-Western Shah who in turn gave way in 1979 to the fiercely anti-Western Islamic Republic of Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini.

    Then there was Saddam Hussein who, as head of the Ba’ath Party nationalized Iraq’s oil reserves in 1972 (before becoming President in 1979). Today the situation has been « normalized » (see « U.S. Companies get slice of Iraq’s Oil Pie, IHT June 15, 2011) with, among others beneficiaries « …the oil-services companies, notably Halliburton,which rather than scaling back as the U.S. military pulls out, is planning to expand. »

    In a slightly different dimension there was Kosovo and its independence which guaranteed that Camp Bondsteel (7000 troops over nearly 1000 acres) would protect multiple pipelines, notably the trans-Balkan AMBO, carrying Caspian Sea oil.

    Libya, is now a good client-state in waiting, its oil production momentarily stalled as the major American and European oil conglomerates eagerly prepare for post-Qadaffi Libya.

    Once this accomplished and , presuming Libya is freed from the Lockerbie charges, Iran may be the next on line.

    Nothing new here after all. Oil, especially with nuclear energy on death’s row and no viable alternatives in sight, is our civilization’s life-blood. The spigot , turned off or down to a dribble, is certainly the most lethal Weapon of Mass Destruction, possibly even ahead of computer virus, bacteria and China’s calling in its loans. The country that controls the spigot, controls the future.


    The hotest place ever officially recorded was El Azizia in the Libyan desert when temperatures reached 136 degrees Fahrenheit (57.8 Celsius) on September 12, 1922. But Iran is heating up. In fact meteorologists reported a scorching 159.26 degrees Fahrenheit (70.7 Celsius) in Iran’s (abiotic = no life) Lut Desert.



    Many, even most people in my generation remember and for many years rejoiced in the secular revolutions lead in the Middle East and North Africa , first by Nasser, then the 27 yearold Muammar Qadaffi (almost or even more handsome than Omar Sharif) and Saddam Hussein. Over the years, the image of Qadaffi became more and more quaint until, listening to 95-minute rant at the UN on September 23, 2009, I for one was weak with empathy and overwhelming pity for the man making such a fool of himself. Yet, his incessant barking always seemed louder than his bite. And certainly his terrorist activities were mightily overshadowed by the Saudi/Wahhabism and Al Qaeda action over the past decades.

    In any case, as an American I find it increasingly difficult to throw stones. When it comes to torture, hard to top Abu Graib prison, |Guantanamo (183 waterboardings for Khalid Sheik Mohammed), the CIA outsourced interrogations centres, Camp Bondsteel’s own prison. As for repression, we all know that the U.S. holds the world’s unchallenged record for its prison population – 737 per 100,000 inhabitants. China comes in second with 111 per 100,000 and the Russian Federation fluctuates. The world average is 140/100/000. Libya in 2008 had 209 prisoners per 100,000, Tunisia 263. When it comes to corruption what can we think or say about the $6 billion earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction which has mysteriously vanished.

    Equally hard to take is the latest Stockholm Peace Research Insitute report : the U.S., with 2010 military expenditures of $698 billion accounts for 42.8% of the global total of $1,630 billion. Indeed, although European defense spending has fallen slightly, (note Robert Gates’ recent chiding of other NATO members for not paying their share) most countries, even when they cut education or health budgets, spare the military. AND we ask how, but how,can we scream about Iran’s (and other countries) quest for WMD- when our c.10,000 (however obsolete) nuclear warheads (not to mention Israel’s) sit in waiting and our « modernized » and theoretically « safer » nuclear arsenal continues to grow.

    AND it is painful, when learning about Qadaffi’s Great Manmade River, to reflect that in our great democracy, under our grest president, WE can’t even build a decent railroad network, not to mention faltering education and health systems, HELP !!!


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