Fidel Castro was right. The West was planning an attack on a sovereign third world nation imminently: Libya. Nothing like a good old war against brown and black people in Libya by the West to remind oneself of what Western civilisation is all about. Many of us who have been politically active since the 1990s are painfully aware of the trauma that humanitarian imperialism causes on peoples of the Global South.
Libya has been one of the most controversial conflicts to have taken place in the Arab world, and the Goebbelsian propaganda machine of most of the media (except for Russia Today, which has been the only critical voice on Libya) has whipped up narrow-minded hysteria against Ghadafi, which has not helped anyone understand some of the more insidious things that are currently taking place.
Why did the UN Security Council pass the resolution last night? Why at this time? Up until the passing of the resolution there was a consensus in mainstream media that the rebellion in Libya had lost momentum around a week ago and was on its last legs, having been defeated everywhere apart from Benghazi and Tobruk. It is even more interesting that the USA went ahead with supporting the no-fly-zone aspect of the UNSC resolution as it was one of the most vocal in expressing the great challenge that a bombing campaign on Libya with its associated civilian deaths would entail. Perhaps the USA knows that there is little that actually can be done and there is not much to lose by posturing as the erstwhile ‘shock and aweing’ power. However, there are some other factors to consider as well, especially in relation to the current people’s movements developing across the Arab world.
British Prime Minister David Cameron recently went on a business trip to the Gulf where he sold British weapons to his puppet states of the region just as the people’s movements were erupting in Yemen, Bahrain and even in what was always considered relatively quiet and stable Oman. Al-Jazeera English (AJE), the voice of the Qatari gulf monarchy, instead of criticising Cameron’s arms-selling trip, decided to hand over its air time so that Cameron could conduct war propaganda against Libya. While it is true that AJE and Qatar have one foot supporting the resistance, one has to be honest and state that Qatar also has the other foot hosting the USA’s biggest military base in the region — Centcom — and Bahrain hosts Centcom’s naval fleet. Here you have AJE protecting British interests in the region while Arab people in Gulf are being killed by British-trained and British-armed regimes.
The West is terrified of the Arab and North African uprisings and going all out to co-opt them the best it can, or as one of my close colleagues Daniel Renwick states, imperialists are ‘reforming to conserve’. AJE seems to be playing into this reform-to-conserve strategy by positioning itself as the voice and activist media of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, but giving much less respect and airtime to the uprisings in ‘Saudi’ Arabia, Yemen and Bahrain, going so far as to even roll with the Western line that Bahrain has a lot to do with Shia-Sunni issues and Iran. Arguably, as long as AJE has this editorial policy, it will be an obstacle to the development of a growing anti-imperialist strategy of the region’s uprisings.
The Gulf countries are the most reactionary, medieval states in the region, established by British colonialism and maintained by British and US patronage. The Gulf States have the benefit — or tragedy, depending on which way one looks at the issue — of possessing vast amounts of oil reserves which is fundamental to the running of the Western military machine. The US and Britain know that they may lose the energy resources of the Gulf due to the political changes rocking the region, and are in desperate need to secure an alternative source of oil and gas. That’s where Libya comes in, and nearly every time pro-Western analysts speak of Libya, they seem to also salivate at the prospect of the vast gas reserves in Algeria. The West wants Libya to ensure its energy supplies in case the Gulf is lost, and if it managed to have full control of Libyan oil, then this would be a boost for the West and might give it another half century of life when all indicators are that the West will totally lose its world position within a few decades.
While Saudi and Qatari troops are occupying Bahrain and killing the protestors there, while the US-drone-supporting Yemeni president has massacred around 50 people in the capital in the last day, the UNSC resolution on Libya and the whole campaign against Libya seems to be a well-managed manoeuvre to deflect, distract and divide attention away from the Gulf uprisings and has relatively successfully recruited much of Arab and Western liberal opinion in this campaign against Libya.
The forces of the Libyan rebellion are totally beholden to the West, with no sign of any real anti-imperialist forces in the rebellion. Rather it is clear that all the forces so far have been fully supported by the West today and historically, with Western special forces openly going into Libya to train and arm the rebels. Hilary Clinton, who seems single-minded in her crusade to slap down the Arabs and kill them with her version of kindness, was trooping around Egypt and Tunisia immediately before the UNSC resolution on Libya, showing how the USA and the West in general want to colonise the Arab uprisings, maintain and deepen the US hegemonic position in the region, squeeze out rivals such as the Chinese and Russians, and re-focus the uprisings against those regimes which are obstacles to their rule in the region: Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Algeria. It is no coincidence that Clinton was in Egypt the day before the UNSC resolution, and then after the resolution is passed, news emerges that Egypt is arming the Libyan rebels: a clear strategy to get the Arab people to sabotage their uprisings through divide and rule. The West has also been trying to stoke uprisings in Algeria, Iran and Syria all in the first week of the Libyan rebellion, as well as in China, Zimbabwe and Vietnam, all countries where the West dreams of regaining its full control back, which was lost since the colonial days, an era at which it looks back with nostalgia and which still defines Western mentality by and large.
The West is doing everything it can to co-opt and sabotage the Arab and North African uprisings. In comparison, anti-imperialist critique and strategies are yet to be worked out in the region’s struggles, apart from the heroic anti-imperialist impetus and instincts of the Arab masses, which AJE has censored out for the most part, whereas Iran’s Press TV has highlighted. Western and Gulf State policies towards Libya and the associated media hysteria has thrown a considerable spanner in the works regarding the potential for anti-imperialist victories in the region, all the while spinning the Libyan rebellion as some kind of popular uprising akin to Tunisia and Egypt.
Ghadafi and Libya have always been a strategic problem for the West, even in the first decade of the 2000s when Ghadafi’s relations with the West thawed and developed somewhat. Western puppets tend not to call for reparations of $7 trillion dollars to Africa from the former colonial powers, call out the UNSC as being a terrorist organisation, argue that Africa must have a permanent seat on the UNSC, criticise that Arabs are hopelessly divided when they should unite against the common enemy in the West and Zionism. Leaders of the third world have often been killed by the West for only saying such things, Patrice Lumumba being a case in point. Those elements in the Libyan state who were corrupted by these relations with the West, illustrated especially by those Libyan ambassadors who went over to the side of Europe and North America, have exposed themselves and done Ghadafi and his loyalists a favour by self-purging themselves. The Western-backed overthrow of Ghadafi is not the path of liberation of the Arab masses. Freedom never comes by hitching a lift on Ceasar’s chariot, or on a US F-16 fighter jet.
The Arab people have centuries of resistance to colonialism and neo-colonialism to draw upon. They have a massive wealth of revolutionary anti-imperialist experience from Gamal Abdel Nasser’s successful anti-imperialist and Islamic-socialist revolution, to the experience of the factions of the PLO throughout the 1970s, ’80s and even early 90s, to the Popular Front of the Liberation of the Arab Gulf. Liberation will come through ending the West’s most vicious and backward puppets in the region: the Gulf States. The West knows this. That’s why it never gives up on its central strategy when dealing with the ‘natives’: divide and rule.
In this Libyan debacle, the West has, with the support of the region’s news media, attempted to create divisions between the Arabs and the revolutionaries in Latin America, within the camp of the anti-imperialist nations of the Global South and between black Africans and lighter skinned Arabs, all the while being relatively successful in getting mass Arab support for its agenda on Libya. However, already there are indications that Arab sentiment is slowly turning against the West’s interference and aggression towards Libya.
The historic victories of the Iranians, the Palestinian revolutionaries in Hamas and other factions, Hizbullah, the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan show that that Arab and Middle Eastern peoples can fight and defeat the West and its ally in the Zionist state. History will show that the Arab people will develop their fighting militant mass anti-imperialist organisations through the crucible of struggle. And the sharpest edge of this struggle currently is in Arabia, Yemen and especially Bahrain. Getting world opinion to turn away from the Gulf towards Libya must be resisted by those who believe in true independence and freedom from the West, the West being the veritable heart of darkness behind oppression across the world.
Sukant Chandan is a London-based political analyst and filmmaker and runs the SonsofMalcolm.com blog. He can be contacted on <firstname.lastname@example.org>.