LIBYA AND THE WESTERN PLAN TO CHOKE THE ARAB REVOLUTIONS
The US led attack on Libya is not about ‘protecting civilians’ but is a strategic move designed to choke the Arab revolutions.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been discredited and so the Western powers have re-furbished their previous rhetoric about ‘humanitarian intervention’. But their hypocrisy and fear of Arab people are there for all to see.
On the very day that the UN Security Council passed a resolution sanctioning military action, 52 people were shot dead in Sana, the capital of Yemen, by forces loyal to the dictatorial regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. But there were no calls for ‘no fly zones’ because Saleh is a key US ally in the region. Yemen received $67 million in aid in 2010 from the US and it was mainly directed to elite army units.
The US led intervention in Libya was given political cover by a number of Arab states. The fig leaf was provided by the Gulf States, such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirate, while Saudi Arabia provided the financial back up. Yet these regimes are involved in the bloody suppression of the Bahraini people, beating and killing pro-democracy protestors.
There was no Western condemnation of the Saudi invasion of Bahrain – and certainly no calls for sanctions or no-fly zones. Instead, the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia is welcomed into the ‘coalition of the wiling’ who will liberate Libya.
For understandable reasons, the desperate people of Benghazi called for Western action as they were pounded by a superior military firepower of the Gaddafi regime. That weaponry came from Western governments who supplied Gaddafi with all he wanted after he joined their war on terror. The Italian government, for example, sold €111 million of weapons, including ‘material for bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles’.
Those same Western governments who now claim to help the Libyan pro-democracy movement had refused to recognise the Transitional National Council in Benghazi or to send them the Libyan funds frozen in the Western banking system. They dismissed all pleas to supply the revolutionary movement in Benghazi with weapons to defend themselves because they did not regard them as reliable Western allies.
Instead like cold-blooded manipulators, they used their pleas as a pretext to intervene to shift the whole dynamic of the Arab revolutions.
Consider only the motives of the main public advocate of intervention, Nicholas Sarkozy. This showman was made an honorary citizen of Tunisia in 2008 and, in return, praised the dictator, Ben Ali, for expanding liberties. His culture Minister, Frederic Mitterand denounced attacks on Ben Ali, stating that ‘To say that Tunisia is a one man dictatorship seems to be quite exaggerated.’ Three days before the dictator fell, the French foreign minister, Michele Alliot Marie, proposed to dispatch French forces to shore up Ben Ali!
Or look at the track record of Sarkozy’s sidekick, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister. Just a month ago, he toured other Gulf States with a 36 strong team of arms manufacturers to sell fighter jets, submarine guns, electric batons and teargas to the despots who rule over those states.
Or the odious Silvio Berlusconi who once claimed that Gaddafi was ‘my best friend.’
Clearly, these thugs do not have the interests of the Libyan people at heart. Their real aim is to choke off the revolutionary wave that is sweeping through the Arab world and threatening to overthrow despots who have been their allies. They will not promote democracy but will curtail and suppress the popular will.
THE NEW COLONIAL ADVENTURE
The Western intervention in Libya will bring death and destruction to many civilians. Even the intelligence website Stratfor admitted that, ‘It is a paradox of warfare instigated to end human suffering that the means of achieving this can sometimes impose substantial human suffering itself.’
A ‘no fly zone’ is a term invented by the Pentagon to hide the reality of bombardment. Almost always it is followed by an escalation of military action. In 1991, for example, a no fly zone was imposed on Iraq but this was followed by a sequence of events that led to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. By the time this ‘humanitarian intervention’ was finished, nearly one million Iraqis were dead.
Once they have their foot in the door, the Western powers will seek escalation. Their strategic aims are three fold:
They want to ensure control of Libya’s oil supplies and will promote a de facto partition of the country to gain this. The Gaddafi dictatorship clung onto power by fostering division between Libyan tribes and regions. He systematically discriminated against the eastern Cyrenaica region and the Western powers hopes to use this fault line to establish their hegemony there.
By presenting themselves as supporters of the pro-democracy movement in Libya, the Western leaders hope to re-furbish their image with the Arab population. By appearing to come to the aid of Benghazi, they think that their support for Ben Ali and Mubarak will fade into a distant memory.
By gaining a foothold in Libya, the Western leaders hope to change the dynamic of the Arab revolutions. Instead of liberation coming from the mass of people themselves, they hope to gain some leverage to influence its direction and channel the revolt back into the arms of their newly emerging B Team.
In this regard, the Western invasion of Libya must be seen as a parallel strategy with the Saudi invasion of Bahrain. Both these military incursions represent the two faces of the counter-revolution, aimed both to crush the movement on the street and to co-opt a new political sub-elite into shoring up state structures.
Specifically, the Western leaders hoped to curb Islamist influences in Benghazi and foster the emergence of a pro-Western hegemony among the opposition.
In Egypt, their aim is to encourage a coalition between moderate elements of the Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak’s old party, the NPD, to block the revolutionary process being promoted by younger pro-democracy activists and leftists. Their eventual aim is to promote a political movement that is similar to the Turkish AKP party which is pro-Islamic and pro-US.
In Yemen and Bahrain, the Saudi inspired repression is designed to force through an acceptance of cosmetic changes to the state structures.
But even if these are the strategic goals that lie behind this bloody imperial adventure, there is little likelihood that they will be achieved.
The US is severely weakened by a ballooning debt crisis and is staring at defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has learnt from bitter experience that it is one thing to slaughter and destroy the armies of weak dictators but it is quite another to hold the country that has been vanquished. Desperate efforts to foment division and sectarian strife in Iraq was only partially successful as the US has had to watch the creation of a regime with an ambiguous relationship to Iran.
This weakness was more than evident in the hesitation and splits in the top echelons of the US state about the wisdom of embarking on the Libyan adventure.
But even aside from the experience of defeat in long drawn out wars, the US and its allies face an even greater problem.
The dynamic of the Arab revolutions extends well beyond democratic demands to seeking real social change. The impetus for the Tunisian revolution began with the death of Mohamed Bouazizi who set himself on fire as a protest against unemployment. The motor force of the revolution has come from a fierce anger against food inflation and lack of jobs. The political cry for democratic rights is fusing with a demand to alleviate the economic conditions of the mass of people who suffer under an imperial order that robs their resources and the deprivations imposed by neo-liberal capitalism.
The small scattered placards that appeared in Tahrir Square to proclaim ‘Wisconsin: Egypt supports you’ show the connections that are consciously made throughout the world. Revolutions move forward by leaps and bounds and can shake the powerful in every region of the world.
On the same day that the US commenced it’s bombing of Libya, tens of thousands returned to the streets of Saana in Yemen to demand the removal of the regime. Like in Egypt, the people had overcome their fear of the regime’s thugs and were determined to drive out the pro-US dictator. It was an omen that even as the counter-revolution struck an equal and opposite reaction could come from the streets.
Which force shall prevail is yet to be settled.
THE TASKS OF SOCIALISTS IN IRELAND
‘We are a privileged people – getting a visit from the Queen and the US President in May’. So said Enda Kenny.
This grovelling embrace of empire sticks in the throats of tens of thousands of working people and socialists should give expression to it. All the more so as the leftist rhetoric of Sinn Fein has already begun to fade as they proclaim ‘Cead Mile Failte’ to the arrival of Obama and advise against protests over the Queen’s visit.
Socialists should stand in total solidarity with the Arab revolutions. We are for the overthrow of every dictator. We are one hundred per cent with uprisings and want to see the downfall of all dictators who stymied the development of their countries.
We oppose all Western intervention in the region and our first duty as socialists is to put the anti-war movement back onto the streets. We do not just want words of condemnation but want to build a real protest movement. That movement may start small but it will grow as the reality of the imperialist war comes home…