Libya Invasion: A Replay of Iraq?
History has an annoying habit of repeating itself. Unfortunately, not too many people pay attention to the obvious parallels that are right before their eyes. What is unfolding in Libya now is a tragic replay of what has gone before. We have heard of ‘no-fly’ zones before, we have heard of ‘atrocities,’ killing of civilians, and also seen the demonization of a leader of a sovereign country who has conveniently fallen out of Western favour. And of course, oil. Who can forget the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ the world was assured that Saddam Hussein possessed? A massive propaganda campaign is being mounted in the Western media against Libya.
|Gaddaffi in Italy: Villain or Victim? Photo courtesy|
The West, seeing a chance to remove a long-time thorn in their side, have let loose misinformation and subterfuge against the government of Libya. Armed insurrectionists who execute people they regard as Gaddaffi loyalists, or butcher and hunt black Libyan citizens [so-called ‘mercenaries’] are lauded in the Western press as ‘revolutionaries,’ ‘protesters,’ ‘democrats’ and ‘freedom fighters.’ The armed gangs of Benghazi have become romantic figures whose every fatuous declaration is lauded as a genuine voice of the Libyan people. Yet despite all this Gaddaffi has mustered enough military and popular support to drive the insurrectionists eastward.
Libya is neither Tunis, Egypt nor even Yemen but a unique society which straddles both the African and Arab worlds. Colonel Gaddaffi made a conscious effort to throw his resources behind the development of African Unity and more than any of the North African Arabs, has firmly aligned himself with the cause of African unity and liberation. Libya unswervingly supported the armed struggles for independence in Southern Africa while the West unashamedly supported and armed the racist apartheid regime which killed more of its citizens in protracted repression than Libya is supposed to have done.
The crisis in Libya needs to be seen in proper perspective stripped of the manipulated photos and videos emanating from the Western press. Although the insurrectionists are the ideological heirs of the mobs which carried out racist pogroms in 2000 against thousands of black immigrants, the Western press continues to eulogize them as democrats, marching gloriously to some political Shangri-La just over the horizon. There is more at stake than whether Gaddaffi goes or stays. The same forces which strove successfully to achieve the partitioning of Sudan are at work to split Libya not only into disparate tribal entities but to divide Arab Africa and Bantu Africa. We have seen this at work in Mauritania, Sudan and we see it unfolding in Libya.
What has given Europe and the United States the right to intervene on the internal affairs of a sovereign African country? What does it bode for Africa in the future? To begin with, the greatest threat to Europe comes not from Moslem terrorists, but from Pan-Africanism. Europe fears a unified Black Continent, in control of its own resources and speaking with one voice. The fate of Africa is being decided in Washington and Brussels. Gaddaffi became a target by his refusal to play the games of Saudi Arabia and Egypt with the West, his championing of anti-imperialist causes and above all his constant urging for African Unity. Such is the influence of the Euro-America that they even demanded that Libya be refused the chair of the African Union.
The sudden events in Tunisia, followed by Egypt presented a golden opportunity to settle scores with Libya and when the Eastern tribalists [who never accepted the writ of the central government] agitated, expecting that the Gaddaffi government would be intimidated and failing in that, decided to take up arms, putting themselves in armed rebellion against their government, the West jumped in. Gaddaffi would fall in a few days, they crowed, and when that did not happen, the propaganda machinery kicked in. He was killing his own people, ‘innocent’ protesters [nobody seemed to notice that they were armed] were being butchered and the death toll was as high as ‘2000,’ blah, blah. None of this was credibly verified. Grainy footage was aired ad nauseam on CNN and the BBC to the accompaniment of stirring speeches about ‘democracy and the wave of revolution sweeping the Middle East.’ Any footage aired from the government side was dismissed as shameless propaganda.
The Iraq syndrome is raising its head. To destroy Gaddaffi, he must first be demonize as was done to Saddam. He must be seen as so evil that only the good 'democratic' nations can save the world from him. Saddam had ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ – or so we were convinced by relentless propaganda. In Libya’s case, there are no weapons of mass destruction. The next trigger phrase thus becomes: ‘he is killing his own people’ thus the West must intervene to ‘save innocent lives.’ But the Yemeni, Bahreini and Saudi governments are also killing their own people in full view of the world’s media but neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama have anything to say about it. It is as if these places and events do not exist.
The African Union has explicitly opposed any kind of military intervention in Libya; yet its counsel has been deliberately ignored. Libya is an African country, yet Africans are unable to exert any kind of influence on what happens on their Continent. A blatant aggression by white European forces backed by the United States is trumpeted as a mission to save the lives of the Libyan people. Skilful disinformation has painted the eastern insurrectionists in Benghazi as ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘democracy protesters,’ but these are the same people who participated in the 2000 race riots against black Africans, killing hundreds in vicious pogroms that have gone unreported by the western media. The protesters in the early days of the uprising prowled the streets of Benghazi slaughtering dark-skinned Libyans claiming they were ‘mercenaries.’ So skilled has been their propaganda that the mythology has been enshrined that Benghazi rebels are ‘the good guys.’ These are the same people who produced a majority of the Islamic volunteers who flocked to Iraq to kill Americans.
Here we are again at an Iraq moment with the same kind of lies, propaganda and misinformation that started the Iraq war. Is it not time we stop being duped by the lies and chicanery of the US and Europe? Are we going to be fooled again?
By Amengeo Amengeo
Specialist in Spanish, Latin American, Caribbean as well as African History. He has also been a journalist, civil servant and graphic artist
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