Speaking in London this week Barak Obama warned that Qaddafi must ‘stand down and leave Libya to the Libyan people.’ It was another fine example of the doublespeak Obama is famous for. Obama certainly has no intention of leaving Libya to the Libyans. He intends to help BP, Total and Fina steal their oil.
In March the UN Security Council authorized a military ‘no fly zone’ allegedly to protect Libyan civilians in response to reports Qaddafi was about to butcher those in Benghasi who had rebelled against him - inspired no doubt by the uprisings in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia. But NATO’s military action has escalated from enforcing a defensive ‘no fly zone’ to become in effect the armed wing of the Libyan rebels. British, American, Italian and French aircraft have been bombarding and killing Libyans for over two months now flying 6,000 ‘sorties’ and firing more than 250 Cruise missiles. Britain alone is on course to spend £1billion on the conflict.
NATO commanders admit killing Qadaffi and replacing him with a more pliant, pro-western alternative is now their main objective. This is not only beyond the terms of UN Resolution 1973 it is expressly prohibited under international law. Yet ‘regime change’ in Libya is precisely what warmongering Obama has in mind. He has deemed ‘all legitimate military targets’ to include Qadaffi’s official Government residencies. A bloody civil war now looms in a country divided between NATO backed rebels in the east and Libyan Government forces in the west.
Several important questions arise from NATO’s latest war. Uppermost among them perhaps is how Qaddafi has survived in the face of such overwhelming military odds? The continuing loyalty of his armed forces is one factor but his ability to play on the deep-seated hatred for western Imperialism and the United States in particular has been even more crucial. The civilian population of Tripoli for example has predictably been drawn in behind Qaddafi by its hatred for Western Imperialism, NATO and their daily bombardment.
BBC and SKY News reporters go out of their way to deny the seething contempt that exists towards Western Imperialism throughout the region. Thankfully there are superior news agencies which convey how the Arab masses see the invasion of Iraq, the occupation of Afghanistan and the persecution of the Palestinians as an affront to democracy, international law and to themselves.
For half a century the US has backed every tyrant and despot in the area. Obama continued with this strategy until the ‘Arab Spring’ began. Western Imperialism stood full square behind tyrants like Mubarak. The uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain have rather exposed them. And it ill behoves Obama to claim, as he did in London this week, that Britain and the United States are the worlds ‘moral guardians’.
Britain and the US never saw the Arab Spring coming far less fostered it as Obama tries to imply. Therefore NATO’s support for the rebels based in Benghasi, the self styled Transitional Council, will hardly ingratiate them to the rest of the Libyan population.
The Libyan Transitional Council are in truth a mixed bunch. They have legitimate grievances against Qaddafi having faced years of discrimination and under development. But they belong to
tribes common only in Eastern Libya who have always been hostile to Qaddafi. Many of them call for the restoration of the disgraced King Idris whom Qaddafi overthrew in a popular uprising in 1969. Idris was a corrupt, brutal and above all plaint western stooge every bit as hated as Qaddafi. He was famous for the deals he signed with Western oil companies – British, French and Italian – wherein Libya received the lowest rate in the world for a barrel of oil taken from its deserts. Al Qaeda are also reported to be involved in the rebel group (they have long been sworn enemies of Qaddafi) although not a significant size.
And of course oil is at the heart of all Obama’s calculations. The French have been the most belligerent of all voices on Libya. It’s clear their motivation is not humanitarian but the prospect of securing precious oil fields across the rich Libyan dessert.
Whilst Qaddafi is without doubt an idiosyncratic despot who rules, not through democratic structures as he claims, but via a rigged political system aided by a ruthless police state funded by the country’s huge oil wealth. Nonetheless he has never been tamed by Western Imperialism and they now see their chance. ‘Regime change’ however for democrats remains the sole and inviolate right of the Libyan people alone, not NATO, not the USA, not Britain nor anyone else.
Obama, Cameron, Sarkosy and Berlusconi are not motivated by humanitarian concern for the Libyan people they aim to impose yet another puppet who will promise them access to the huge oil reserves in the Libyan desert. This conflict then is not a war to help the Libyan people its a war to help BP steal their oil.