[News] Libya recolonized

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Nov 2 18:11:48 EDT 2011


http://www.frontline.in/stories/20111118282300900.htm

Libya recolonised

AIJAZ AHMAD

Libya is the first country that the Euro-American 
consortium has invaded exclusively on the pretext of human rights violations.

FROM Kabul in October 2001 to Tripoli in October 
2011, a decade of unremitting planetary warfare 
has seen countries devastated and capitals 
occupied over a vast swathe of territory from the 
Hindu Kush to the northern end of Africa's 
Mediterranean coast. Within the Arab world, this 
ultra-imperialist offensive of Euro-American 
predators may yet move on to Syria as well – and 
beyond that to Iran at some future date. For now, 
in any case, the occupation of Libya by the North 
Atlantic Treaty Organisation's (NATO) clients and 
corporations marks the vanquishing of the spirit 
of rebellion that was ignited in neighbouring 
Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year and has been 
under attack ever since. For much of Africa, 
though, this may yet be merely a beginning of a 
new conquest by the Euro-American consortium that 
may ravage the continent even more ferociously 
than did the famous “Scramble for Africa” that 
was sanctified in Berlin at the end of the 19th century.

Humanitarian interventionism

Afghanistan was invaded in the name of “War on 
Terror” plus human rights. Iraq was invaded in 
the name of “War on Terror” plus nuclear 
non-proliferation plus human rights. Libya is the 
first country that has been invaded almost 
exclusively in the name of human rights. In the 
very early days of hostilities in Libya, 
President Barack Obama said dramatically that if 
NATO had waited “one more day, Benghazi could 
suffer a massacre that would have reverberated 
across the region and stained the conscience of 
the world”. His senior aides claimed that the 
imminent “massacre” could have led to the death 
of one lakh people, and this is what got repeated 
ad nauseum on U.S. television channels as well as 
in all the halls of power where the option of 
human rights interventionism got discussed with a 
view to obtaining a United Nations Security 
Council (UNSC) resolution. This was a bare-faced 
lie, very much in the mould of the lie about 
Iraq's purported nuclear weapons that was 
brandished around by Obama's predecessor, 
President George Bush Jr. It was on the basis of 
such disinformation that Resolutions 1970 and 
1973 were passed in the Security Council, 
invoking the dubious principle of the 
“responsibility to protect”, which was inserted 
into the duties of the U.N. as late as 2005, 
after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were already afoot.

This was the time when the Bush administration 
was openly claiming in international fora, 
including at the U.N. itself, that (a) in this 
Age of Terror the U.S. reserved the right of 
pre-emptive military attack against any state 
that the U.S. considered a threat to its national 
security, and that (b) in the conditions of the 
“War on Terror” many aspects of the Geneva 
Conventions were no longer applicable. This 
discourse of the right to pre-emptive invasion 
was then supplemented by the discourse of the 
benign nature of the empire itself, in the shape 
of human rights interventionism. The claim now 
was that the “international community” – as 
defined by Euro-American powers – had the right 
to intervene in the internal affairs of any 
sovereign country if “massacre” or “genocide” was 
imminent. The NATO bombings in Libya that began 
in the third week of March were the first that 
had ever been authorised by the Security Council 
in its entire history on this dubious principle 
of human rights interventionism. Nicolas Sarkozy, 
the French President, was in his own way quite 
right when he asserted in the early hours of 
March 25: “It's a historic moment
 what is 
happening in Libya is creating jurisprudence
 it 
is a major turning point in the foreign policy of 
France, Europe, and the world” (emphasis added).

No credible evidence has ever emerged to support 
Obama's claim that a massacre (of up to 100,000) 
was imminent in Benghazi, and no massacres ensued 
in the rebellious cities and towns that Qaddafi's 
troops did occupy in the earlier stages of the 
fighting. On the contrary, there is 
incontrovertible evidence of massacres at the 
hands of NATO's mercenaries. Neighbouring 
countries, such as Niger, Mali and Chad, have 
reported the eviction of some three lakh black 
African residents from Libya as NATO's local 
allies and clients rolled on towards Tripoli 
under the devastating shield of NATO's own 
40,000-plus bombings over large parts of Libya. 
Together with these mass evictions of workers and 
refugees from neighbouring countries – whom the 
Qaddafi regime had welcomed to make up for labour 
shortages in an expanding economy – there are 
also credible reports of lynchings and massacres 
of black Libyans themselves. The scale of these 
depredations is yet undetermined but it is 
already clear that upwards of 50,000 have died as 
a result of the war unleashed by NATO with the 
collusion of the Security Council, and half a 
million or more have been rendered homeless, 
mostly at the hands of NATO-armed “rebels” who 
have now been appointed as the new government of 
the country. Neither the Security Council nor 
NATO commanders nor, indeed, President Obama – 
the first black President in the history of the 
U.S. and himself the son of a Kenyan father – has 
seen it fit to take up the “responsibility to 
protect” these hapless people, most of them black 
Africans, even though several heads of African 
states have protested, including the very pro-U.S. President of Nigeria.

One of the most pernicious aspects of the liberal 
discourse of human rights in our time is that 
this doctrine is utilised in country after 
country to justify imperialist interventionism in 
the affairs of the sovereign countries of the 
tricontinent in direct violation not only of the 
United Nations Charter and the Westphalian order 
of nation-states as such but, even more 
fundamentally, of the very spirit and practices 
of the anti-colonial movements that fought to 
dismantle the colonial empires of yesteryear. The 
right to independent nationhood is inseparable 
from the right to choose one's own government 
without foreign interference. In virtually every 
country of Latin America over the past half a 
century, peoples have fought against the most 
brutal kinds of dictatorship but without ever 
asking for a foreign intervention. For three 
simple reasons: (1) it is only the people 
themselves, in their collectivity, who have the 
right to change their government; (2) it would be 
hard to find a dictator, including Qaddafi and 
Saddam Hussein, who has not colluded with 
imperialism at one point or another; and (3) a 
military intervention is always, without 
exception, the intervention of the strong against 
the weak – always, without exception, in pursuit 
of the interests of those who intervene.

Given this basic principle, the issue of 
Qaddafi's dictatorial rule is just as irrelevant 
today as was the nature of Saddam Hussein's rule 
in the past; and as irrelevant as would be the 
dictatorial temper of Bashar al-Asad in Syria or 
Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in Iran in case of invasions 
yet to come. We shall come to the paradoxical 
character of the Qaddafi regime, and it cannot be 
anyone's case that Qaddafi was some sort of 
liberal democrat. It needs to be said, though, 
that he was no more dictatorial than most rulers 
of Africa and the Arab world, most notably the 
friends of the West in Saudi Arabia and the whole 
complex of various emirates in the Gulf. His 
authoritarianism was indeed ferocious. However, 
if matters are viewed from the perspective of the 
well-being of the Libyan people, we shall also 
have to concede that Qaddafi built the most 
advanced welfare state in Africa – just as Iraq 
was the most advanced welfare state in the Arab 
East, Saddam's authoritarianism notwithstanding. 
Dismantling of the welfare state – and 
privatisation and corporatisation of the national 
assets – is in fact the filthy underbelly of this 
human rights imperialism. If human rights were 
even remotely the issue in such interventionism, 
Saudi Arabia would be the logical first target. 
And, why should there not be a NATO occupation of 
Israel, immediately, for protecting the human 
rights of the Palestinian people and the 
implementation of numerous Security Council resolutions?

In reality, the great crusade for human rights 
and democracy in Libya was conducted by NATO with 
the aid of, among others, personnel from Qatar 
and the Emirates, just as NATO's own Islamists in 
Turkey have joined hands with Saudi Arabia in 
providing weapons to the Muslim Brotherhood and 
its allies in Syria against the Assad regime in 
the name of democracy and human rights.

Empire goes where oil is

The Security Council resolution that authorised 
NATO's “humanitarian intervention” in Libya was 
well reflected in a secret proposal to the French 
government by the National Transitional Council 
(NTC) in the early days of the “rebellion”, which 
offered to France 35 per cent of Libya's gross 
national oil production “in exchange”, in the 
words of the proposal, for “total and permanent” 
French support for the NTC. The French 
government, of course, denied it when the French 
newspaper Liberation published the communication. 
This coyness of the conspirators was not to last 
long. On October 21, less than 24 hours after the 
announcement of Qaddafi's assassination, 
Britain's new Defence Minister, Philip Hammond, 
announced that the United Kingdom had presented 
to the NTC a “request” for a licence to drill for oil. He then added:

“Libya is a relatively wealthy country with oil 
reserves, and I expect there will be 
opportunities for British and other companies to 
get involved in the reconstruction of Libya
. I 
would expect British companies, even British 
sales directors, [to be] packing their suitcases 
and looking to get out to Libya and take part in 
the reconstruction of that country as soon as they can.”

As the U.S. Ambassador, Gene Cretz, unfurled the 
flag over the American Embassy in Tripoli, at its 
reopening ceremony on September 22, he was equally upbeat:

“We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of 
Libyan natural resources, but even in Qaddafi's 
time they were starting from A to Z in terms of 
building infrastructure and other things. If we 
can get American companies here on a fairly big 
scale, which we will try to do everything we can 
to do that, then this will redound to improve the 
situation in the United States with respect to our own jobs.”

Referring to the Italian oil company, the Foreign 
Minister of Italy, Franco Frattini, added his own 
gleeful chime to this triumphalist chorus: “Eni 
will play a No.1 role in the future.” Qatar, 
whose overt and covert contribution to the NATO 
offensive was very considerable indeed, is 
already handing oil sales in eastern Libya and 
will also be entering the distribution of the 
spoils of war from a position of strength. The 
New York Times noted: “Libya's provisional 
government has already said it is eager to 
welcome Western businesses (and)
 would even give 
its Western backers some ‘priority' in access to 
Libyan business.” That was accurate. “We don't 
have a problem with Western countries like 
Italians, French and U.K. companies,” Abdeljalil 
Mayouf, a spokesman for the NTC-controlled oil 
company, Agogco, was quoted by Reuters as saying, 
“but we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil.”

Libya's 46 billion barrels of oil make it home to 
Africa's largest proven deposit of conventional 
crude, though Nigeria and Angola dispute this 
Libyan pre-eminence. Before the civil war began 
in earnest in February, Libya was pumping about 
1.6 million barrels a day, most of which went to 
southern Europe, whose refineries were tailored 
to refine Libya's light, high-quality crude. By 
contrast, Saudi crude is heavier and unsuitable 
for many of those refineries, while Libya's 
geographical proximity also makes it much more 
attractive. Almost 70 per cent of Libya's oil 
went to four countries, Spain, Germany, France 
and Italy, even before the NATO war, and 
oil-producing regions were of course the first to 
be secured as NATO started bombing its way to 
victory. The oil industry's biggest players, 
meanwhile, are ready to reclaim their old 
concessions and get new ones. The vast Ghadames 
and Sirte basins, largely off limits to foreign 
oil companies since Qaddafi came to power 42 
years ago, are now expected to be privatised and 
opened to foreign corporations. The same applies 
to Libya's offshore oil and gas resources.

The loss of political sovereignty thus leads 
necessarily to great curtailment of economic sovereignty as well.

African Union vs “The international Community”

At a meeting between the two parties on June 15 
this year, some three months after NATO initiated 
its aerial bombings of Libya, the High Level Ad 
hoc Committee of the African Union (A.U.) handed 
over to the Security Council a letter spelling 
out the A.U. position on the Libyan crisis. Now, 
even after the fall of Tripoli and the 
assassination of Qaddafi, the contents of that 
communication are worth re-visiting if we wish to 
assess the great gap of perceptions and 
prescriptions, on issues of interventionism, 
between nation-states of the tricontinent on the 
one hand, and, on the other hand, those 
institutions of “the international community” 
whose task it is to justify Euro-American 
interventionism. We shall first offer a series of 
quotations from that key document:

1. “Whatever the genesis of the intervention by 
NATO in Libya, the A.U. called for dialogue 
before the U.N. Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and 
after those resolutions. Ignoring the A.U. for 
three months and going on with the bombings of 
the sacred land of Africa has been high-handed, arrogant and provocative.”

2. “An attack on Libya or any other member of the 
African Union without express agreement by the 
A.U. is a dangerous provocation
 sovereignty has 
been a tool of emancipation of the peoples of 
Africa who are beginning to chart 
transformational paths for most of the African 
countries after centuries of predation by the 
slave trade, colonialism and neocolonialism. 
Careless assaults on the sovereignty of African 
countries are, therefore, tantamount to 
inflicting fresh wounds on the destiny of the African peoples.”

3. “Fighting between government troops and armed 
insurrectionists is not genocide. It is civil 
war
. It is wrong to characterise every violence 
as genocide or imminent genocide so as to use it 
as a pretext for the undermining of the sovereignty of states.”

4. “The U.N. should not take sides in a civil 
war. The U.N. should promote dialogue
. The 
demand by some countries that Col. Muammar 
Qaddafi must go first before the dialogue is 
incorrect. Whether Qaddafi goes or stays is a 
matter for the Libyan people to decide. It is 
particularly wrong when the demand for Gaddafi's 
departure is made by outsiders
. Qaddafi accepted 
dialogue when the A.U. mediation committee 
visited Tripoli on April 10, 2011. Any war 
activities after that have been provocation for 
Africa. It is an unnecessary war. It must stop
. 
The story that the rebels cannot engage in 
dialogue unless Qaddafi goes away does not 
convince us. If they do not want dialogue, then, 
let them fight their war with Qaddafi without 
NATO bombing
. The externally sponsored groups 
neglect dialogue and building internal consensus 
and, instead, concentrate on winning external patrons.”

It goes without saying that the A.U. is by no 
means a conglomeration of radicals; it is a 
conservative grouping of state governments, most 
of whom are, in one way or another, allied with 
the West; many of the heads of states 
participating in A.U. proceedings at any given 
time are venal, corrupt, authoritarian or worse. 
That is, however, no more relevant than the 
personal venality of Sarkozy or Silvio Berlusconi 
or any other Western leader. The point, rather, 
is that the A.U.'s is the only united voice 
through which African states speak and that the 
principles and points of fact raised here are unexceptionable.

The very first point is that the Security 
Council, NATO or any other conglomeration of 
states and institutions simply have no right to 
represent themselves as “the international 
community” when what they say and do is opposed 
by the united voice of the African state system. 
The second point is that the issue of state 
sovereignty is posed in Africa and Asia not only 
in European, Westphalian terms, but, far more 
sensitively and explosively, in the perspective 
of the recently won and still very fragile 
independence of states after a long history of 
colonial predation. Further, the A.U. letter 
rejects the position – enunciated by Obama, his 
NATO allies and the Security Council – that there 
was any genocide or imminent genocide in Libya. 
Rather, it speaks strictly of a “civil war” 
between “government troops and armed 
insurrectionists”, calls upon the U.N. not to 
take sides in the “civil war” and goes on then to 
contemptuously dismiss the “externally sponsored 
groups” and their “demands” that are designed for “winning external patrons”.

The most important practical point in any case is 
that Qaddafi had accepted the principle of 
negotiation and arbitration by the A.U. as early 
as April 10, after which the A.U. quite rightly 
demanded that NATO stop its military mission and 
the U.N. concentrate on facilitating negotiations 
under A.U. auspices. A significant section of the 
letter laid out an elaborate plan for 
negotiations, for policing of violence inside 
Libya by an A.U. brigade as had been done in 
Burundi, and for conflict resolution processes 
using the principles of “provisional immunity” 
during the peace negotiations, and for the 
establishment of truth and reconciliation bodies 
for reconciliation after peace has been re-established.

None of it was heeded, precisely because the 
voice of reason had come from the weak, while the 
will for intervention and regime change had come 
from self-appointed masters of the universe.

Civilisation and the ecstasy of conquest

In the moment of victory, President Obama was 
relatively more measured in his words than many 
other Western leaders. The fall of Libya to 
40,000-plus NATO bombings was proof, he said, 
that “we are seeing the strength of the American 
leadership across the world”. And he was not 
entirely mistaken in taking the credit. The 
Security Council resolution that authorised NATO 
operations would have been inconceivable without 
the coercive powers of the U.S. Obama's cavalier 
condoning of assassination and extra-judicial 
execution, as displayed to the world in the cases 
of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki among 
others, was part of the implicit licence to kill 
the unarmed Qaddafi as well. Less than 48 hours 
before Qaddafi was actually assassinated, Hillary 
Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, was on a 
triumphant visit to Tripoli, the Libyan capital 
now occupied by NATO and its local clients, and 
said unambiguously: “We hope he [Qaddafi] can be 
captured or killed soon.” Incitement to murder 
could hardly be couched in words more stark.

This issue of an authorised assassination should 
detain us somewhat, for it does impinge upon the 
imperial duplicity of the human rights discourse. 
Details of Qaddafi's death and burial are still 
unclear. We do know that the town of Sirte, to 
which he had retreated during the siege of 
Tripoli, was devastated by hundreds of aerial 
bombings by NATO with the single-minded intent to 
kill him and those close to him. We also know 
that he was leaving Sirte in a convoy when the 
convoy too was bombed; the French claimed that it 
was their Rafale fighter jet that disabled his 
vehicle; the Americans claimed that it was the 
work of one of their Predators. The main point is 
that he was captured alive and unarmed by NATO's 
mercenaries on the ground, kicked around, beaten 
and killed. Considering how many American, 
French, British, Qatari and other special forces 
have been there, commanding the Libyan “rebels”, 
it is significant that the body of the dead man 
was never taken away from the milling “rebels”. 
Christof Heyns, the U.N. Special Rapporteur, 
seems to be clear on this point: “The Geneva 
Conventions are very clear that when prisoners 
are taken they may not be executed wilfully and 
if that was the case then we are dealing with a 
war crime, something that should be tried.”

The complication, however, is that the Western 
alliance had previously announced an award of $20 
million to anyone who kills (or helps 
kill/capture) Qaddafi. So, here is a test for 
Western values: should the man who killed Qaddafi 
be tried in a court of law? Should he be awarded 
$20 million and celebrated as a hero? Or should 
he be allowed to slip out of the grip of the law, 
history and public memory – and settled, with a 
handsome settlement, in Miami, southern California or a villa on the Rhine?

Qaddafi's own tribe issued this statement: “We 
call on the U.N., the Organisation of the Islamic 
Conference and Amnesty International to force the 
[National] Transitional Council to hand over the 
martyrs' bodies to our tribe in Sirte and to 
allow them to perform their burial ceremony in 
accordance with Islamic customs and rules.” But 
there was no such luck! NATO's mercenaries 
displayed Qaddafi's body, along with that of his 
son Mutassim, naked to the waist, in freezers in 
a meat store in Misrata, inviting souvenir photographs.

Human rights imperialism seems to be inventing a 
brand new entertainment industry: that of necrophilic tourism.

Be that as it may. President Obama is right in 
claiming that the event proved “the strength of 
American leadership”. U.S. Special Forces and 
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) teams were on 
the ground since before the beginning of the 
rebellion and made sure that those who were 
destined to be NATO's mercenary army on the 
ground were armed from the start; they were then 
joined by their French and British counterparts 
and backed by armed groups from Qatar, the 
Emirates and the like. Bombings were left largely 
to the Franco-British component of NATO but much 
of the high electronics and infrastructural 
nitty-gritty was handled by the U.S. forces: 
collecting electronic intelligence and smashing 
the Libyan anti-aircraft systems, for example, 
and blockading the coast. NATO warplanes used 
U.S. bases for refuelling and these bases 
supplied munitions when their European 
counterparts ran low. In an important sense, the 
military operation in Libya was a highly 
successful experiment in an assault coordinated 
between AFRICOM – the U.S. Command for the 
control of Africa – and its European partners.

If President Obama was cryptic, his icy Vice 
President, Joe Biden, was precise: “In this case, 
America spent $2 billion and didn't lose a single 
life. This is more of the prescription for how to 
deal with the world as we go forward than it has 
been in the past.” By “life”, Biden obviously 
means American life, considering that even the 
most conservative estimates suggest that the war 
in Libya has led to the loss of at least 50,000 
lives, mostly at the hands of NATO bombers and their local allies.

More broadly, what is at issue is a U.S. 
objective, first conceived during the Vietnam 
War, to develop an “automated battlefield” with 
technologies so advanced that wars may be won and 
entire countries conquered without any 
significant ground deployment. Across the 
Atlantic, that same idea was invoked by people 
like Paddy Ashdown, who once served for four 
years as E.U. High Representative in 
Bosnia-Herzegovina, who said that from now on the 
West should adopt the “Libyan model” of 
intervention rather than the “Iraqi model” of massive invasion.

This kind of hard-boiled Anglo-Saxon pragmatism 
can easily be translated by an ambitious 
politician like Nicolas Sarkozy, the current 
French President, into the sophistries of a 
high-minded Gallic discourse on history and 
civilisation. Pierre Lévy, a former editor of 
L'Humanité, recently recalled a passage from a 
speech Sarkozy delivered in 2007 in which he 
glorified “the shattered dream of Charlemagne and 
of the Holy Roman Empire, the Crusades, the great 
schism between Eastern and Western Christianity, 
the fallen glory of Louis XIV and Napoleon
” and 
then went on to declare that “Europe is today the 
only force capable of carrying forward a project 
of civilisation.” This claim to a unique 
civilisational mission then led quickly to an 
ambition to conquer: “I want to be the President 
of a France which will bring the Mediterranean 
into the process of its reunification after 12 
centuries of division and painful conflicts
. 
America and China have already begun the conquest 
of Africa. How long will Europe wait to build the 
Africa of tomorrow? While Europe hesitates, others advance.”

Lévy then goes on to quote Dominique 
Strauss-Kahn, a senior leader of the Socialist 
Party (much in the news recently for alleged 
sexual misdemeanours), who matched Sarkozy's 
bombast with his own desire for a Europe 
stretching “from the cold ice of the Arctic in 
the North to the hot sands of the Sahara in the 
South (
) and that Europe, I believe, if it 
continues to exist, will have reconstituted the 
Mediterranean as an internal sea, and will have 
re-conquered the space that the Romans, or 
Napoleon more recently, attempted to consolidate.”

In this world view, then, NATO is seen as having 
inherited a mission from the Roman Empire and the 
Napoleonic conquests, which then involves the 
“re-conquest” of North Africa. It was, after all, 
only about 50 years ago that France finally 
relinquished its claim that Algeria was not a 
foreign colony but an “outlying province” of 
France itself. What is very striking in any case 
is how closely the rhetoric of “civilisation” is 
woven into the rhetoric of “conquest” and even “re-conquest.”

Obama, Africa and the Imperial Project

Poor little “Olde Europe”! Even in its wildest 
civilisational ravings, all it can imagine is the 
re-conquest of its colonial empire in North 
Africa. By contrast, the U.S. knows how to get 
directly to the point. In the second week of 
October, when the war against Libya had been won 
but Qaddafi yet not assassinated, President Obama 
announced: “I have authorised a small number of 
combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central 
Africa to provide assistance to regional forces
. 
On October 12, the initial team of U.S. military 
personnel with appropriate combat equipment 
deployed to Uganda. During the next month, 
additional forces will deploy
. These forces will 
act as advisers to partner forces that have the 
goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony 
and other senior leadership of the LRA [Lord's 
Resistance Army]
. Subject to the approval of 
each respective host nation, elements of these 
U.S. forces will deploy into Uganda, South Sudan, 
the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

So, in the wake of the Libyan conquest, U.S. 
troops are to be immediately deployed to 
countries across the middle of Africa, in four 
countries and in cooperation with regimes that 
have hideous records of dictatorship and human 
rights abuses, not the least on the part of 
Uganda's “President-for-life”, Yoweri Museveni. 
Obama justified this newly minted “humanitarian 
mission” in Uganda in the name of eliminating the 
LRA. This is odd. The LRA has actually been 
around for almost a quarter century and has never 
been weaker than it is today. Why, suddenly, such 
an operation across a huge part of Africa? Paul 
Craig Roberts, a former Under Secretary of State 
for Treasury under President Ronald Reagan (and 
thus not a left-winger by a long shot), put the 
matter succinctly: “With Libya conquered, AFRICOM 
will start on the other African countries where 
China has energy and mineral investments
. 
Whereas China brings Africa investment and gifts 
of infrastructure, Washington sends troops, bombs and military bases.”

Even this recent deployment may be just the tip 
of an oncoming iceberg. For many years now, the 
U.S. has been building up a special Command for 
Africa, the AFRICOM, in tandem with CENTCOM that 
is responsible for operations in the Middle East 
(West Asia). As part of this imperial mission in 
Africa, the U.S. is actively engaged in training 
the militaries of Mali, Chad, Niger, Benin, 
Botswana, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, 
Ethiopia, Gabon, Zambia, Uganda, Senegal, 
Mozambique, Ghana, Malawi and Mauritania. 
Together with other NATO countries, the U.S. has 
staged numerous military exercises in Africa with 
the ostensible purpose of preparing contingency 
plans for “protecting energy supplies” in the 
Niger delta and the Gulf of Guinea. Aside from 
Libya, major oil producers in the region include 
Angola, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial 
Guinea, Chad and Mauritania. All these, and many 
others besides, are to be “protected” – pretty 
much on the “Libyan model” if need be.

This is not the place to go into details. Suffice 
it to say that the fall of Libya is likely to 
serve as the first major step in the offensive to 
capture Africa's plentiful natural resources. In 
the fullness of time, as multiple insurgencies 
and bloodlettings are let loose across the 
continent, we are likely to see the erection of 
many new bases for the AFRICOM-NATO combine, very 
much on the model of Iraq and Afghanistan. The 
objective is not only to reserve African 
resources for the Euro-American imperium as much 
as possible but also to deny those resources to 
China, which gets about one third of its oil from 
Africa – Angola and Sudan in particular – in 
addition to important materials like platinum, 
copper, timber and iron ore. Some 75 Chinese 
companies were working in Libya with 36,000 
personnel, not so much in the oil sector as in 
infrastructural development projects; and China 
accounted for about 11 per cent of Libya's 
pre-war exports. It evacuated its personnel and 
complained that NATO had unilaterally changed the 
U.N. resolution from protecting civilians to regime change.

The U.S. would like to see this eviction of China 
from Libya to become permanent and for such 
evictions to be repeated across Africa. Will that 
happen? Too soon to tell. The U.S. has the 
military might and the impatient arrogance of a 
declining superpower, but China is the one that 
has the cash and the almost glacial patience of a 
rising economic power. A confrontation is on, and 
it will take decades to settle.

Conclusion

Major issues pertaining to the significance of 
the Libya war have not been addressed here: the 
meaning of all this for the so-called “Arab 
Spring”; the nature of the fallen Qaddafi regime; 
the likely composition of the emerging 
dispensation; the social disintegration and 
multiple internal conflicts that are now likely 
to ensue; the destabilisation and the prospect of 
multiple civil wars across the Sahel region 
caused by the war on Libya; and so on. Other 
contributors to this issue of Frontline may 
clarify these issues, or this author may return 
to them in a future contribution.

So, let me conclude this piece by noting that 
Qaddafi did leave a brief will, and it is 
important that we recall some of his last words:

“Let the free people of the world know that we 
could have bargained over and sold out our cause 
in return for a personally secure and stable 
life. We received many offers to this effect but 
we chose to be at the vanguard of the 
confrontation as a badge of duty and honour. Even 
if we do not win immediately, we will give a 
lesson to future generations that choosing to 
protect the nation is an honour and selling it 
out is the greatest betrayal that history will 
remember forever despite the attempts of the others to tell you otherwise.”

That is true. Friendly African countries had 
offered him safe sanctuaries, while some European 
countries would have preferred to have him as a 
neutralised client rather than a celebrated 
martyr in (at least parts of) Libya. Offers were 
indeed made. Given the choices, he preferred to 
die. In that brief will, he also expressed a simple wish:

“Should I be killed, I would like to be buried, 
according to Muslim rituals, in the clothes I was 
wearing at the time of my death and my body 
unwashed, in the cemetery of Sirte, next to my 
family and relatives. I would like that my 
family, especially women and children, be treated well after my death.”

In Islamic custom, the stipulation that the body 
be washed and wrapped in a fresh shroud is lifted 
in the case of martyrs. Right or wrong, Qaddafi 
did think of his own impending death as 
martyrdom. We may not think so, but many others 
probably will. Qaddafi was quite largely a 
buffoon, in many ways brutish, more so as he grew 
older and more egomaniacal, but not everyone is 
going to forget that he also had a visionary side 
to him and built for his people the most advanced 
welfare state on the continent. His is a 
contradictory legacy. We have described earlier 
in this piece what the winners did to his corpse. 
Not just the members of his own family or his 
tribesmen, but many, many others might not so easily forget all that.




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