The Neocolonization of Libya: Interview with Aijaz Ahmad

Aijaz Ahmad: . . . Europeans, and Italians in particular, are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their first aerial bombing ever done in the world.  The Italians bombed in Libya in 1911.  Now, of course, with 100 years of development of the technology, there have been 20,000 aerial attacks on Libya. . . .  They were there from the very beginning: the special forces, both the Americans and British and possibly French were there from the very beginning, well before the National Transitional Council itself came into being. . . .  This is a typical pattern of Afghanistan and Iraq . . . now in Libya.  When such overwhelming Western force comes in, how can anybody stand up and fight? . . .  Overwhelming Western force comes in, the regime crumbles, the entire military infrastructure of the Libyan forces has been completely destroyed.  The news is that half of the rebel force was brought in from the seas into Tripoli by NATO.  So, it’s really NATO bombing that has done it, and if that is what has done it, then clearly what happened in Afghanistan, what happened in Iraq, would be repeated. . . .  One of the things that are also happening in Libya, again after Afghanistan and Iraq, is really a sort of restoration of the ancien régime.  That is to say, the very people in Afghanistan who were toppled by the Khalq Revolution of 1978 became the backbone of the American intervention there, and they were the people who were ultimately toppled by the Taliban, and so on.  In Iraq, the same thing, it is the ancien régime.  Every prominent leader of Iraq today is part of the old Iraqi elite that was overthrown by the Ba’athists.  Now, again in Libya, the Senussi tribe and their leaders, old monarchical elements, and all of them are being brought back, so that is one part of what is going on. . . .  Regardless of ideology, regardless of anything, one big fight that is going to come is over the distribution of the spoils of war, in terms of tribes, in terms of regions, in terms of religious groupings, and so on. . . .  Without NATO arms, this kind of conglomeration is not going to hold together. . . .  What bears repeating is that what has defeated Gaddafi are not internal forces.  It is NATO that has defeated.  And it is only NATO that can stabilize what comes after the war. . . .  They have not only invaded a third Muslim country but also made really the first military foray of this kind of this level into Africa . . . using this kind of NATO license.  The subservience of the members of the Security Council is astonishing.  At any point, any member of the Security Council, permanent or non-permanent, could have called for a special session saying that the NATO was exceeding its mandate, but they did not.  So, there is acquiescence from not only Russia and China but also the non-permanent members of the Security Council, like India for instance.  Will this be repeated for Syria?  We don’t know.

Aijaz Ahmad is a Marxist critic in India.  This video was released by NewsClick on 1 September 2011.  The text above is an edited partial transcript of the interview.

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