Libya: Protecting "civilians" or helping "rebels"?

43754.jpegIn Libya, have certain members of the international community have once again fallen into the trap of the Balkans Syndrome, when guilt at not having acted earlier provoked a knee-jerk reaction with disastrous consequences: the travesty of international law called Kosovo? In Libya, are they protecting "civilians" or are they helping "rebels"?

Photographs: Innocent unarmed civilians

Praiseworthy though it is to have preoccupations about the safety of fellow human beings, it is also the duty of the leaders of the international community to think carefully before they act and not fall into the trap of the Balkans Syndrome, when guilt at not having acted earlier provoked a knee-jerk reaction with disastrous consequences: the travesty of international law called Kosovo. And since when can a heavily armed group of bearded Islamist fanatics be  described as "unarmed civilians"?

However, does anyone in the international community these days act or react through the goodness of their hearts, or through self-interest and the obligation to protect the groups that put them in power? How democratic are the "democratic" societies, when the real power is held by dark groups of grey barons who pull the corporate vested interest strings behind the scenes, and when Governments are elected depending upon how good the leader of the party looks on TV?43755.jpeg

How democratic and free is the media when information is controlled and presented in a nice tidy package in which the truth is often suppressed or ignored and lies and misinformation manipulated?

Praiseworthy though it is to have preoccupations about the well-being of people, let us look beneath the surface of the issues surrounding the attack against Libya, led by the USA, UK and France.

Firstly, was the internal situation in Libya a question of a popular uprising against oppressive standards of living while a clique of elitists bled the country dry? No, because Libya's wealth was distributed and will be, so long as Muammar Al-Qathafi retains an influence. Or was the situation in Libya fuelled by "rebels" aided and abetted and supplied from the borders to the West (Tunisia) and East (Egypt) whose governments had conveniently "fallen"? Let us take a look at where the "rebellion" started.

43756.jpegIt did not start in Tripoli, the capital - where Muammar Al-Qathafi is so obviously still massively popular, it started in the traditionally separatist province of Cyrenaica (Benghazi) and on the western frontier.

Secondly, where are these "unarmed civilians"? It is difficult to imagine which TV set David Cameron, Barack Obama or Nicolas Sarkozy have been watching, because the "unarmed civilians" I have seen on the bank of TV sets in my editing center, linked in to a number of different stations, show heavily armed bearded marauding gangs of thugs yelling "Allahu Akhbar". Now where have I heard that before?

Thirdly, have they got it wrong again? Have they jumped the gun and been taken in by those whose intentions are neither democratic, nor that clear, and probably eventually anti-western? Remember the Mujaheddin, those "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan who destroyed women's rights in that country and then went on to morph into the Taleban? The thank you note was to be 9/11.43757.jpeg

Fourthly, UN Resolution 1973 is sufficiently vague to have catered for a massive headache among the members of the international community. One can only imagine the shenanigans behind the scenes before its hasty adoption - it was obvious from the words of the French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé that it was to be passed even before it was voted for.

The wording of its Paragraph 4, on the Protection of Civilians, quotes Paragraph 9 of Resolution 1970 (2011), which expressly forbids the export of weapons to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Whoever, then, is supplying the "rebels", is breaking international law; the wording of Paragraph 4 of Resolution 1973 (2011) mentions the authority "to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya".

Does this not go against the precepts under international law that member states are free to protect themselves in cases of armed insurrection? And where does one draw the line between "protecting civilians" and attacking the Government forces, allowing the "civilians" to advance to Tripoli, as has been suggested in numerous media outlets?

43758.jpegFifthly, how can a group of people in uniforms, armed with heavy weaponry, be considered "civilians" and therefore how can any substantial military attack on the forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya be anything except a breach of international law, occasioning interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state?

Sixthly, has President Obama gone to Congress for permission to wage war, as he is supposed to do? Has David Cameron informed those of his citizens whose maternity ward has just been closed, whose local school has been shut down, whose relative have been taunted by gangs of drunken thugs and drug addicts because the police force has been savagely reduced, quite how much money he is spending?

For those in Britain waiting for an operation, unable to get a hospital bed and whose social security benefits have been cut, sending them into misery, I am happy to inform them that the cost of a mission per aircraft per hour is between 35.000 and 50.000 pounds, or 200,000 per plane, per day. The cost of a back-seat role in a prolonged no-fly operation is in the region of 300 million pounds per year.

To do what? Help a marauding bunch of bearded fanatics seize power on Europe's doorstep?

Finally, how many of the governments involved in this manic campaign have actually bothered to research the tremendous amount Colonel Al-Qathafi has done not only for his people, but also for Africa? How many of them have stated that he was one of the first voices to ring out against Al Qaeda and international terrorism? How many have explained that he took the poorest country in the world and turned it into the one with the highest human development indices in Africa?43759.jpeg

Why was a session arranged at the UNO later this month to praise Muammar Al-Qathafi  for his human rights record? On his policy of religious tolerance... a report which praised him for protecting "not only political rights but also economic, social and cultural rights", praising him for his treatment of minorities and for the human rights training of the security forces...

Once again, the international community has been hasty, has fallen into the trap of the Balkans Syndrome, when Clinton wanted to take attention away from his midriff after what he did in the Oval Office, turning the White House into a whore house. This time around, who are the three leaders with most popularity problems at home? Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, whose approval ratings are beneath those of Muammar Al-Qathafi's.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey