Archive | Libya

GADDAFI: A Psychological Profile of Man, Myth & Reality

NOVANEWS

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He walked up to the podium to address the UN General Assembly.
All eyes in the chamber were on the strange, eccentric figure, whose invitation to New York had been the subject of great controversy and coverage. Staring out at all the delegations of world government, he acted out ripping up the UN Charter, calling it “worthless”.

He proceeded to condemn the UN for its failure to prevent “65 wars since 1945”, and to rally against the dictatorial control of the Security’s Council’s five permanent members and the domination of “the Super-powers”. “How can we be happy about global peace and security if the whole world is controlled only by five countries?” he complained. Some delegations walked out. Others looked embarrassed or uncomfortable.

The year was 2009 and the speaker was Muammar Gaddafi; then acting not just as the symbolic ‘head of state’ for Libya but as Chairman of the African Union. It was the first and last time he would ever be invited to address the UN. He would be dead less than two years later, murdered brutally by a terrorist mob being armed and supported by the very same “super-powers” and UN Security Council he had condemned in 2009. The bitter, ugly irony wouldn’t have been lost on him in those final weeks and days.

Hours later, he was in the CNN  studio being interviewed by veteran presenter Larry King; it was a very odd, stilted interview, partly undermined by a language barrier and partly by Gaddafi’s strange, off-kilter manner at the time. In that one moment in time, we saw two sides of the Libyan leader: in the General Assembly we saw the incisive protester and world figure, while in the TV studio we saw the slightly strange, disheveled man who Western audiences had such a hard time relating to.

That juxtaposition in fact probably characterised Western perception of Muammar Gaddafi for most of his life.

So what is there still to be said about Gaddafi? Loved. Hated. Demonised, vilified. Lionised. Mocked. Condemned. Celebrated. Revolutionary. Dictator. Visionary. Tyrant. Terrorist. Socialist. And finally murdered.

The list of words used to define or describe one of the most notorious world figures of the late 20th century goes on and on. Those words, those semantics, change depending of course on who is doing the talking. They changed also depending on what year it was or what the weather was like that day. But, as a few weeks ago marked the fifth anniversary since his brutal murder in Sirte, this seemed an appropriate time – as promised – to reflect on the life and character of one of the twentieth century’s most interesting and debated figures.

I already wrote here at length on the downfall of Gaddafi and Libya in 2011 and also about the Gaddafi era itself in Libya from 1969 to 2011; now, finally, was the appropriate time to reflect more squarely on Gaddafi himself, as a person. To try to understand his psychology, his motivations, his possible failings, and to try to deal with some of the enigma and contradiction. He was, to my mind, one of the three or four most fascinating world figures of the 20th century, and also the most important socio/geo-political martyr of the 21st century so far; and there is a great deal to process when trying to understand who he was.

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The one thing you could never do was define him in a simple sentence.

In life, and beyond death, Gaddafi remains difficult to make any blanket statements about. I don’t generally lionise people when it comes to politics or world affairs, and I would never claim Gaddafi was a ‘hero’ in any absolute sense; he was certainly a hero in 2011 and he died a hero. But life is too complicated and international affairs too nebulous and mired in corruption and agendas to make general statements about political figures.

Gaddafi was certainly a visionary and a revolutionary. In some ways he was an echo of the kind of world-changing, groundbreaking figures that existed in long gone times; a modern, Libyan or Arab equivalent of an Augustus or of an ancient Greek styled ‘Statesman-Philosopher’ type. In some ways he was also just another Arab dictator; but of course that wouldn’t contradict the Augustus analogy at all, as the founder of the Roman Republic had been a dictator for life, however much he had tried to dress it up in different terms. For that matter, you would have to go back to Roman times to find the last even vaguely famous Libyan before Gaddafi: since the days in which Romans were sailing the Mediterranean and warring with Carthage over 2,000 years ago, no ‘Libyan’ had ever made an impact on history or become known across the world until Muammar Gaddafi.

Tingba Muhammad, in an article in ‘The Final Call’, described Gaddafi as ‘a man whose progressive record of accomplishments very well may be unmatched by anyone who has ever led a nation in modern times.’

And he was also therefore a kind of leader most of us in the West can’t really relate to understand, given our highly institutionalized and regulated political systems and classes in which the power or will of individual figures to bring about vast change is extremely minimal, the individual subject by the vast, self-perpetuating systems and instruments of government and economics. That system, it is argued, protects us from madmen, protects us from overly ambitious or powerful individuals like Hitler or from cults of personality; which is probably true for the most part. It also hinders any possibility of revolution or of great change, it could be argued.

Gaddafi could be a riddle of contradictions. Who else could be named a frontrunner for Amnesty International’s poll for ‘Human Rights Hero, 2011’ and then just weeks later be labelled a ‘war criminal’ by Western government officials and accused of massacring civilian demonstrators?

Odd and eccentric are certainly other things you could describe Gaddafi as. And highly entertaining at times too. He unfortunately lent himself to ridicule, even when the ridicule wasn’t justified; though often the ridicule was probably justified. Here is a genuinely funny, but not mean-spirited, satire of Gaddafi from shortly before his death.

His eccentricities probably made it much easier for him to be caricatured as a ‘mad dictator’ much of the time; though most of those eccentricities probably didn’t emerge until later in his life, creating a sometimes jarring contrast between the serious, revolutionary nation-builder of the 1970s and the sometimes weird, outlandish figure of later years.

Here was a man whose downfall and death was celebrated by Western government officials and media, and yet was mourned by many across Sub-Saharan Africa, who celebrated him as a hero. For instance, a vigil was held in Sierra Leone. The Daily Times of Nigeria stated that Gaddafi, whether he had or hadn’t been a dictator, was the most benevolent in a region that only knew dictatorship and that he was “a great man that looked out for his people and made them the envy of all of Africa.”

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AllAfrica.com reported that while many Libyans and Africans would mourn Gaddafi, this would be ignored by Western media and that as such it “would take 50 years” before historians decided whether he was “martyr or villain.”

I think that is a very astute point actually; it may take 50 years for most people to really understand who Gaddafi was, what he accomplished, what he tried to do and what he was about. We can debate back and forth for hours over what Gaddafi was about; but the one thing he absolutely wasn’t is the two-dimensional Bond villain the Western governments and media made him out to be for so many years, even if some of his behavior did lend itself to that caricature.

He was a flawed person and a flawed leader, certainly; he was an egotist, yes. And some of his ideas, policies and actions were highly questionable. And like most Arab or African leaders, he can be said to have at various times presided over a repressive, sometimes violent, regime, even if he wasn’t the one guiding or endorsing the more oppressive behavior; this too, for that matter, is a subject of contention – the question of whether Gaddafi himself was directly to blame for the more oppressive behaviour of some of the Revolutionary Committees and other elements of the regime over the years. The jury is verymuch still out on that. The ‘jury’, for that matter, is still out in general, as the Western coalition chose to murder him instead of bringing him to a trial.

One of the reasons Gaddafi is so difficult to judge is because he changed so much. Across the four decades of his Libya, he seemed to reinvent himself and alter some of his views numerous times. If you study his history, there are periods in which you could legitimately call him a ‘dictator’ of course (but not necessarily any worse or different to various other Arab or African leaders – including the ones our governments support). But at other points you could also legitimately call him a true revolutionary, a champion of the people, a genuine Socialist. This practically impossible task of ‘defining’ Gaddafi is so complicated that people even now can’t state for certain whether he was a ‘dictator’ or merely a symbolic figurehead during the last few decades of his life.

But he was always an easy figure for the Western media and governments to make fun of. This wasn’t aided by his increasingly ostentatious dress sense as he got older, nor by some of the things he said and the way he said them. But then Gaddafi was a singular force, a self-made individual, who didn’t play the game by the international rule-book and who didn’t fit in to the prevailing world order.

And he didn’t mince words or ideas; didn’t do ‘politics’ in the sense that we understand it. Therefore he could say things like “There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet!” and do so in all seriousness; whether he meant that in a partly sarcastic way or not. He wasn’t, in truth, a great orator and often said things that didn’t translate very well (though he had a definite poetic flourish in his writings). That being said, there really aren’t many great ‘orators’ in the modern Arab world, where rhetoric and great oratory aren’t generally considered necessary qualities: by that standard, Gaddafi was different and can be said to have made at least a handful of very potent speeches in his time, in addition to written texts.

It helped that he always had the ability to shock or to provoke, of course; but also to be unintentionally funny when he was actually trying to be profound.

Who but Gaddafi would begin a speech at an Arab Summit with the sentence, “Firstly I would like to explain to you all why the Israelis and the Palestinians are both stupid…” But it was Gaddafi, and everyone knew who he was, knew what to expect, and some even came to enjoy it. When he made that statement about the Palestinians and the Israelis, the Palestinian Prime Minister was in the front row, laughing his head off and gesturing at the podium as if to illustrate that Mad Uncle Gaddafi was making his drunken X-Mas toast.

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Whether it was his support for various liberation movements in the 70s and 80s or whether it was the admittedly very odd custom he had of travelling everywhere with an elite unit of female bodyguards (the famous Amazonian Guard – many of whom were brutally hunted down and murdered after Gaddafi’s downfall). Or whether it was in his blunt statements, such as in that famous 2009 UN address in which he called the UN Security Council “the world terrorism council” and ripped up the UN Charter in front of the whole General Assembly, calling it ‘worthless’.

Sometimes this could be hilarious. When he visited Italy and met with Silvio Berlusconi, Gaddafi wore pictures of Libyan martyrs who’d died at the hands of Italian/Fascist Colonial occupation forces during World War II (over a million Libyans died in Italian concentration camps at that time; something that without doubt influenced a lot of Gaddafi’s attitude towards Colonialism and the West). It was a remarkably brazen thing to do, but he was making a statement on behalf of all Libyans (and the look on Berlosconi’s face, as he tries to pretend he hasn’t noticed, is priceless).

And among all of his visions, he also had some questionable ideas. And yes, Gaddafi proposed ‘SATO’; a ‘NATO of the South’ that would be set-up in opposition to NATO and would’ve been constituted by African and South-American nations forming a mutual defense initiative. It sounds facetious, but he may have had a serious underlying point about the imperialist North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the need for an equal and opposite organisation. For one thing, if he had built a ‘SATO’, then the NATO criminal enterprise of 2011 that resulted in his murder and the destruction of Libya might have encountered some serious opposition from the outset. Libya would’ve had allies. Instead, Libya was left to fend for itself against what Fidel Castro called “the Nazi-Fascist role played by America and its NATO allies”.

And yes, like Augustus, he also decided to rename the months. February was ‘Lights’, August was ‘Hannibal’ (that other great, mythic ‘hero’ of Libyan history, who had waged war on the Romans). These were all ‘quirky’, perhaps downright odd, aspects to his character and his life. He was also full of contradictions.

He was bitterly opposed to extremist ‘terrorists’, yet in his mission statement to support ‘freedom movements’ across the world he probably can be said to have at times supported ‘terrorist’ organisations; although there we do get into semantics and into questions of how you define a terrorist in one instance and a ‘freedom fighter’ in the other (case in point: he was substantially supporting Nelson Mandela and the ANC at a time when they were still being considered ‘terrorists’ by most Western governments).

He was also always keen to emphasise his humble Bedouin roots and would therefore receive dignitaries in his signature sprawling white tent, which he erected wherever he went: Rome, Paris and, after much controversy, New York, on a Westchester estate in 2009. Yet at the same time he increasingly started to attire himself in fine, ostentatious clothes. There were always such contradictions with Gaddafi, such was the complexity of his character. Unlike an archetypal ‘dictator’, he was subject to change, was in fact looking to change at various times and was looking to implement change as time moved on. His Libya was in an ongoing ‘state of revolution’; a continuous evolution going on over a long period of time, not a dictatorship set in stone.

Inside that tent of his, the quilted walls were printed with motifs like palm trees and camels. But however ostentatious and attention-seeking it may have been, there is also something charming and even endearing in seeing images of people like Vladimir Putin or Tony Blair having to meet Gaddafi in his tent. Modern, Western politicians always seemed so out-of-place, out of their comfort zone when having to do this. But likewise, Gaddafi himself always looked so out of place in the modern structures of global, Corporatist government on those few occasions he was invited; he looked like some exotic figure who’d been transported via a time-machine into the modern political world.

Libyan leader Moummar Gaddafi talks with Pan African Parliament President Gertrude Mongella from Tanzania during the family photo of the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon

When he came to the UN General Assembly in New York in 2009, some treated him like a rock star; even some of the usually composed, hum-drum officials and delegates seemed to be fascinated by his presence, as if their world had suddenly turned upside down.

Among two of the things most emblematically associated with Gaddafi’s work are the ‘Green Book’ and the Great Man-Made River project.

Gaddafi’s ‘Green Book’, which provided much of the basis for his ‘remaking of Libya’, has at times been ridiculed by Western commentators or dismissed as the quaint ramblings of a ‘madman’ or an eccentric. But numerous progressive academics worldwide have acclaimed The Green Book as a serious body of political thought, offering an incisive critique of Western parliamentary democracy, capitalism and Marxist socialism, and offering a viable, workable alternative.

The other ‘official’ books are a mixed thing. My Vision, published in the late 90s, is widely regarded as little more than a propaganda exercise by the Libyan state.

However, Gaddafi’s Escape to Hell & Other Stories is a fascinating insight into his mind; some of it has poetic flourish, while some of it is badly written to the point of being almost unreadable. But there are rich explanations of his passion for nature and the profundities of the living world, very sweet passages in relation to his parents, interesting insights into his own failings, frustrations and sense of limitation. There is also an insightful sense of Gaddafi’s sense of brotherhood with oppressed peoples and belittled cultures across the world, which explains the psychology behind his decades-long support for liberation movements from Nicaragua to Ireland to the Aborigines. And humour can be found in his vitriolic attacks on religious extremists and Islamist terrorism, which are full of sarcasm and put-downs.

Escape to Hell  is actually probably a much better insight into Gaddafi’s personality and mind (and a better read too) than The Green Book; the latter being a manifesto, the former being more of a free-flowing dialogue.

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The Great Manmade River has been written about at length elsewhere (and somewhat here): but is worth mentioning again here, as it was undertakings like this that gave Gaddafi the aura of those old-world visionaries and ‘nation builders’ and society-makers like in the legends of the classical Greek city states or of Roman builders like Augustus and Caesar, or Herod the Great.

He wasn’t just inspiring and forging the society on a political or ideological level, but was literally involved hands-on in building and transforming the landscape and infrastructure. Like a Herod the Great or an Augustus, he wanted to leave his mark for posterity, not just in the political and social landscape but in the physical landscape itself.

It is a little sad to think that he might’ve failed in that: the Great Manmade River – regarded a marvel in modern engineering, and rather boastfully called by Gaddafi himself ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ – has, in fact, been severely damaged by both the marauding Islamist rebels and the NATO bombers in 2011. And though some things will probably survive, monuments or projects relating to Gaddafi have been destroyed or town down all over Libya, and even swathes of some of the great cities and urban developments he oversaw the development of have been laid to waste or left in ruin by the NATO onslaught or the subsequent terrorist militias and warlords.

Even Tripoli, once a marvel of Gaddafi’s Libya, has been left in ruin and has been listed now as the ‘fifth most unlivable city’ in the world.

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The circumstances of Gaddafi’s birth, fittingly enough for someone who went to such lengths to mythologise himself, have the almost prophetic air of something out of scripture or myth.

The son of an impoverished Bedouin goat herder, Muammar Gaddafi was born in a tent near Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural area outside the town of Sirte in the deserts of western Libya. Curiously, Gaddafi’s date of birth is not known for certain, as his parents were Nomadic Bedouin and were illiterate and did not keep birth records.

These were the most humble of beginnings imaginable for a figure who end up a nation-builder, a one-time dictator and a cultural and national figurehead. Gaddafi was never embarassed of these roots, never tried to deny them or disavow his parents and upbringing. In fact, quite the opposite: he wore this Bedouin desert birth and upbringing almost as a badge of honour, as evidenced by – among other things – the fact that he would meet foreign dignitaries in his special tent and would even set up a tent to stay in when abroad, as he did in New York in 2009.

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The contradiction in Gaddafi, as I mentioned earlier, is that while he was proud of this ‘humble’ roots and of the tribal and desert traditions of the country, he was also a city-builder who wanted to modernise and industrialise Libya, and he therefore often appeared to be oscillating back and forth between these two natures. His reverence of nature and the wilderness was undeniable and came through strongly in his writings, along with a disdain for modern, urban lifestyles – and yet he sought to build thriving, modern cities at the same time.

In 1945 at the conclusion of World War II, Libya was still occupied by British and French Colonialist forces.

Although Britain and France intended on dividing the nation between their empires (which they would again try to do in 2011, albeit in different terms and under different, more modern guises), the General Assembly of the newly-established United Nations granted the country independence. In 1951, the United Kingdom of Libya was created; a federal state under the leadership of the pro-western monarch, Idris, who banned all political parties and established an absolute monarchy. The monarchy was essentially a Colonialist vassal, serving foreign interests and keeping the population in poverty. This was essentially not a system at all interested in common society or in building up a nation, but mostly of simply holding the North-African nation as a vassal land of foreign interests.

The idea – wrongly perpetuated by critics – that Gaddafi’s regime had banned political parties was, technically, incorrect: there had never *been* any political parties.

Education in Libya was not free at that time, but Gaddafi’s father funded his son’s education despite the great financial difficulty. During the weeks, Gaddafi slept in a local mosque, having no home, and at weekends he walked some 20 miles to visit his parents in their traditional dwellings. Reportedly bullied for being a Bedouin, he was nevertheless proud of his identity and was said to have actively encouraged this same pride in other Bedouin children.

This same disposition of the child of humble origins being bullied for his ‘inferior’ background and responding with renewed pride in his roots would in fact play out all through Gaddafi’s life.

I believe – through reading and studying on Gaddafi at length – that he believed he was later looked down on and bullied by other Arab leaders and elite ruling families, particularly the Saudis, as being somehow a figure of ridicule simply because he was mere Bedouin from a poor African nation; moreover and more importantly, he perceived the same attitude towards him and his country from the broader international forces, particularly the Western and European governments who for so long refused to recognise his leadership or his country. Gaddafi (pictured below in the early 70s with PLO leader Yasser Arafat, with Egypt’s Nasser and the Saudi Royals on the right), may therefore have carried with him something of a persecution complex.

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This was, of course, entirely valid come 2011, when all of his longstanding views of the ‘Western, Colonialist aggression’ (and his mistrust of the Saudi and Gulf State monarchies) were proven absolutely true.

As a young man and student, he had a keen interest in Arab nationalist activism, but he nevertheless refused to join any of the banned political parties active at the time, including the Arab Nationalist Movement, the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and the Muslim Brotherhood, this being because he rejected ‘factionalism’. He later claimed at this time he read voraciously on the subjects of General Nasser and Egypt, the French Revolution of 1789, the works of Syrian political theorist Michel Aflaq and curiously the biography of Abraham Lincoln.

“Lincoln was a man who created himself from nothing without any help from outside or other people. I followed his struggles. I see certain similarities between him and me,” he said in a book published by The Pittsburg Press in 1986 called Gaddafi: The Man the World Loves to Hate.

People could roll their eyes or make jokes about any comparison between Muammar Gaddafi and Abraham Lincoln, but the fact is that Gaddafi was entirely self-made. All that he accomplished in his own life he accomplished entirely without assistance from outside forces and without inherited privilege. Unlike the Royal Dictators of the Saudi and Gulf States, for example, who inherit immense and wealth and privilege, or like leaders of American or British governments, who come up through highly wealthy elite networks and major patronage from wealthy backers or from corporations, someone like Gaddafi literally came from nothing and *had* nothing except what he built himself.

And indeed the Libya that he built – the poorest nation in Africa at the time he inherited the helm and wealthiest and most successful within just the first decade of his rule – was also a self-made success story, built entirely independently, without any foreign loans, without any involvement from Western companies or governments or the IMF or World Bank. Given all of that, Gaddafi could literally compare himself to Lincoln and be making a serious point. His Libya had also come into being as an entirely Libyan affair and wasn’t a foreign-backed or foreign funded coup.

Graduating in August 1965, the young Gaddafi had become an army communications officer. In April 1966, he was sent to Britain for further training; spending time undergoing military training in Dorset and Kent and an English language course at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire.

One of his instructors from this time called him “hard working, conscientious” and “an amusing officer”, adding that he was an avid reader of books and also enjoyed playing football. Gaddafi disliked England, however, and later claimed that British Army officers had racially insulted him on a regular basis. He also claimed to have found it very difficult adjusting to the country’s culture. One wonders, with hindsight, whether these experiences might have had some impact on his later attitude towards the Colonialist powers, Britain in particular. The experience may have also caused him to retreat more into his Arab identity and his desert roots. Almost certainly, whatever racism he encountered would’ve left a bitter taste in his mouth.

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There is a very amusing picture (above) of the young Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966, dressed in traditional Bedouin robes, while two English old ladies look on, bemused.

There was very little time between Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966 and he and his ‘Revolutionary Committee’ conducting the coup in Libya that ousted the monarchy and established a Socialist Republic.

Gaddafi and his Revolutionary Committees believed the monarchy and the ruling elite were opposed to the will of the people and the development of the nation, so they purged monarchists and members of Idris’ Senussi clan from Libya’s political world and armed forces.

Inspired by the Arab Nationalism that was going on across the Middle East, particularly the example set by President Nasser in Egypt, the Libyan Revolution led by Gaddafi successfully ousted King Idris in 1969. It was an entirely bloodless coup with no deaths and no violence; conducted with popular consent and broad support and carried out entirely by Libyan nationals serving a Libyan agenda. It had been entirely secular in character, with no sectarian interests. Contrast this to the foreign-funded 2011 uprising, which involved scores and scores of foreign terrorists and mercenaries and was backed and directly aided by foreign interference and foreign military bombing; it was an absolute bloodbath, mired in Islamist terrorism, Al-Qaeda atrocities, ethnic cleansings, and unbridled barbarity in many instances.

The difference between Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution and the Al-Qaeda/NATO-led 2011 ‘revolution’ is absolute.

Read more: The Libya Conspiracy: A Definitive Guide to the Libya Intervention & the Crime of the Century…’

Following the military coup in 1969, the new Libyan government insisted that America and Britain immediately remove their military bases from Libya, with the 27-year-old Gaddafi saying Libya would “tolerate living in shacks while the bases of imperialism exist in Libyan territory.” The British left in March and the Americans in June 1970, despite both having tried to negotiate an agreement with the Libyans at this early stage. But with this clear statement and attitude, the tone and nature of the relationship between the new Libya and the Western superpowers was set for the decades that would follow.

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Gaddafi was recognised as Revolutionary Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977, and then later as the “Brotherly Leader” of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011, the latter being supposedly a less executive and more symbolic role.

While many critics portrayed the Gaddafi family and the Libyan ‘regime’ as an immovable, dictatorial ‘establishment’ that would permanently rule over the people, it is clear that Gaddafi was considering other possibilities. Other critics would point to the ‘lavish lifestyles’ of the Gaddafi family, though in reality this was more to do with some of his sons and relatives and not so much Gaddafi himself. And more to the point, even if the Gaddafi family did live in ‘luxury’, it clearly wasn’t at the expense of the people.

And of course the whole critique becomes even less meaningful when we consider the luxury that other dictatorships, such as the Saudi and Gulf-State Royal Families live in (and the extraordinary wealth disparity with their populations), and who are nevertheless supported and well-regarded by Western governments. Even more pertinently, the political classes in America, France, Britain and most other developed nations aren’t exactly known for slumming it with the lower classes either, are they?

Gaddafi, let’s remember, was a peasant, born in the desert to impoverished Bedouin parents: he worked for and attained everything he had in life, having had the most humble beginnings imaginable. Our own Establishment simply has that luxury as a ‘birthright’.

Some of Gaddafi’s relatives, as well as some Libyan officials, did later adopt lavish lifestyles, including luxurious homes, Hollywood film investments and private parties with American pop stars; this was particularly the case with the younger generation, such as Gaddafi’s son Mot’assim.

How much this was true of Gaddafi himself (pictured below with wife Safia and son Saadi in the 70s: photo credit, Tyler Hicks, New York Times) is difficult to tell, but the evidence suggests he wasn’t particularly excessive in the context of other leaders or ‘dictators’. In democratic societies like ours, someone like Tony Blair, for example, earns millions in his post-office enterprises as well as receiving substantial amounts of tax-payer money for his personal security, etc. The same is true of former American Presidents like Clinton and Bush.

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The Gaddafi family compound had facilities for banquets and other public events, but was actually described by US intelligence reports published via Wikileaks as “not lavish in any way compared with the ostentation of the Gulf-oil-state families.”

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And what of Gaddafi, the ‘Brutal Dictator’?

It is, rather remarkably, still an unresolved question as to whether Gaddafi himself was personally responsible for any of the more brutal actions at various points by elements of the regime or whether these elements, particularly the Revolutionary Committees, were much more autonomous than that and essentially acted on their own authority and initiatives. It could be that when Gaddafi attacked those elements of the regime publicly or condemned their actions, he was simply performing an act to absolve himself in the people’s eyes. Or it’s possible he really wasn’t directly culpable in their activities.

The truth of the matter may lay somewhere in the hazy middle of those two possibilities.

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There were also strong indications that his personal involvement with those aspects of the regime abated more and more in the later years as he adopted his more and more symbolic position in the society, and that by the last few years of his life he was hardly involved at all; but that the existential crisis of 2011 simply forced all the revolutionary forces to rally around the founder of the state once more and forced Gaddafi himself to return to a more aggressive stance in order to fight off the invading terrorists, mercenaries and foreign agents.

As Hugh Roberts notes in his article ‘Who Said Gaddafi Had to Go?’, days after Gaddafi’s death (and which I’ve referenced in previous articles, because it really is a worthwhile read): ‘Words such as ‘authoritarianism’, ‘tyranny’ (a favourite bugbear of the British) and ‘dictatorship’ have never really captured the particular character of this set-up but have instead relentlessly caricatured it. Gaddafi, unlike any other head of state, stood at the apex not of the pyramid of governing institutions but of the informal sector of the polity, which enjoyed a degree of hegemony over the formal sector that has no modern counterpart.’

Perversely, it also worth considering that much of Gaddafi’s alleged paranoia and the paranoia displayed by the Revolutionary Committees (which led to much of the oppressive treatment of political opponents) was a direct result of all the CIA/MI6/foreign assassination attempts and plots to subvert, infiltrate or overthrow the regime.

If Gaddafi was paranoid, it was for good reason. From the moment he’d ousted the monarchy 1969, Gaddafi had numerous and constant threats to both his position and his life – from the monarchists, from the Israeli Mossad, from Saudi and Gulf-State agents, from the CIA and MI6, from homegrown and foreign-backed groups like the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO), and finally from Al-Qaeda and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. He and his supporters had every cause for extreme defensiveness; all of which of course was proven entirely valid in 2011.

In regard to the widely circulated caricature of Gaddafi as a ‘mad, weird’ dictator, it could be legitimately suggested that Gaddafi did get stranger and stranger in his behaviour as the years went on.

Something happened with him that tends to happen to most men who experience great power for a long period of time; just as with Augustus and other emperors, and just as with various dictators over the centuries, being in power for so many years – and becoming the national figurehead and living symbol – undoubtedly did odd things to his mind and his self-perception. His ego clearly spiraled, to the extent that he openly thought of himself as the “king of kings” of Africa, having already considered himself a prophet. The thing is, had he walked away or stepped aside after the first decade or so of his rule, no one would question his accomplishments and what he did for Libya – that first decade was an extraordinary period of development, vision and success.

Read more:The Life & Death of Gaddafi’s Libya: A Study of the Libya That No Longer Exists

But most men, were they to rule for almost four decades, would probably develop significant psychological complexes. What is particularly fascinating in Gaddafi’s case is that, come the Arab Spring and violent uprising in 2011 – combined with the NATO-led assault – something seemed to snap back in him and the increasingly odd egotist and eccentric of the preceding decade-plus seemed to quickly be shaken off like moss.

Suddenly, something more like the Gaddafi of 1969 was back – the proud, defiant Libyan patriot and guardian of the society. If you observe Gaddafi in 2011, it was as if the sudden, bloody and urgent, existential threat to the nation he had built up was like a splash of cold water to wake him from what had been – at times – a long, increasingly self-obsessed daze.

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It was too late, in a sense. In another sense, however, it gave him one last chance to become something potent and vital again and to become in reality the kind of national symbol and hero that he had always tried to present himself as. But whereas, for many years he had artificially built up this mythology around himself, as many ‘great men’ do, in 2011 it was purely in his actions. In other words, where he had spent many years trying to, with no small amount of ego, portray himself as the great hero and defender of the society, he now, at the end, actually was the great hero and defender of the society -right to the bitter, bloody end.

Which is not to say that the various acts of egotism and self-aggrandizement over the years were ‘justified’ by the Gaddafi of 2011 – they weren’t. But, in the end, he entirely lived up to his image, however self-serving that image might’ve been at some stages of his life. Where most leaders, especially powerful ‘dictators’ with vast wealth or assets to protect, would’ve fled to safety, gone into exile or cut a deal, Gaddafi stood his ground and fought and prioritised saving the nation, the society and the people’s dignity.

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So, who was the ‘real’ or definitive Muammar Gaddafi?

The Gaddafi who, in a mad act of self-worship, allowed a delegation of minor African dignitaries to place a golden crown on his head and literally proclaim him “King of Africa”? Or the Gaddafi who, just weeks before his death – and at a time when the war was clearly lost and he knew his time in Libya was up – went out and rallied his people, telling them to go out into the streets with their flags and be unafraid of their enemies and to continue on as proud Libyans in their land?

It’s actually impossible to say.

The answer is probably that both were the ‘real’ Gaddafi; one was the Gaddafi that began to emerge when he grew psychologically fat and lazy from continuous prestige and power, while the other was the Gaddafi who quickly re-emerged when the life or death of the nation was suddenly at stake. One was the Gaddafi who it was difficult to have much sympathy for; the other was the Gaddafi who got to end his life as a hero and as the most potent symbol Libya had ever – and will ever have – produced, almost as if to make up for all those years of inflated self-aggrandizement and vanity projects.

Why was Gaddafi a hero in much of Africa and why was he so influential in the continent?

It’s important to remember that his original interests had been in the Arab world and not so much Africa. He had been a major proponent of Arab Nationalism and Pan-Arabism in the 1970s – that Arab nations should build mostly secular, progressive states and come together in common cause and brotherhood, instead of following their own petty interests or sectarian concerns. He had been the main proponent of the plan to unify Libya with Syria and Egypt in a common, secular Arab alliance.

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These endeavors ultimately failed, however, and, by the eighties, that Pan-Arab ideal had evaporated from most of the region.He still maintained a good relationship with Syria, which had remained an Arab Nationalist state and which like Libya was one of the few remaining nations on earth that was truly independent. But in general, Gaddafi was no longer on very good terms with most of the Arab world.

Instead, he turned towards Africa.

Gaddafi had opposed Apartheid in South Africa and forged a good relationship with Nelson Mandela, who named his own grandson after Gaddafi and called Gaddafi one of the 20th century’s “greatest freedom fighters”, and insisted the eventual collapse of the Apartheid system owed a great deal to Gaddafi and Libyan support. In turn, Mandela later played a key role in helping Gaddafi gain (brief) mainstream acceptance in the Western world later in the 1990s. Over the years, Gaddafi came to be seen as a hero in much of Africa due both to his epic revolutionary image and to what he had accomplished in Libya. This view was only amplified by the manner of his horrific death at the hands of Western, Imperialist-backed terrorists.

After Mr Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, he rejected pressure from Western leaders – including then-US President Bill Clinton – to sever ties with Gaddafi, who had in fact largely bankrolled his election campaign. “In the darkest moments of our struggle, when our backs were to the wall,” Mandela had said, “it was Muammar Gaddafi who stood with us.” In 1997, Mandela awarded Gaddafi the highest official honour in South Africa in recognition for his support of human rights and the struggle against white Apartheid.

This view of Gaddafi was shared by many others across Africa. “For most Africans, Gaddafi is a generous man, a humanist, known for his unselfish support for the struggle against the racist regime in South Africa. If he had been an egotist, he wouldn’t have risked the wrath of the West to help the ANC both militarily and financially in the fight against Apartheid,” said Jean-Paul Pougala, writing in the London Evening Post after Gaddafi’s death.

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Gaddafi was also one of the founders of the African Union (AU), created in July 2002, with its birthplace in his own place of birth (and death) – Sirte.

There are debates as to whether Gaddafi’s influence on Africa was positive or negative. There are highly critical views of Libyan involvement in other African states and in bloody skirmishes and Civil Wars in Africa; but, of course, these are the same sorts of geopolitical controversies that numerous other nations – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, to name a few – have been, and still are, involved in too.

What is clear is that – particularly in the final years of his life – Gaddafi was, in essence, moving to free the entire African continent from the clutches of Western imperialism.

As is well attested, Gaddafi was establishing himself as the pioneer of African development and currency; establishing himself as the alternative to the IMF in Africa. In effect, he was setting himself up for conflict with the international central banks and monetary system. Just how significant Gaddafi’s presence was to Africa is something that Western media has always tried to downplay. But Gaddafi alone had allocated two-thirds of the $42 billion that was required to launch a public African Central Bank (based in Nigeria), an African Monetary Fund (based in Cameroon) and an African Investment Bank based in Libya.

The African Monetary Fund (AMF) would’ve meant no more borrowing from Rothschild Central Banks for African countries, but production of its own currency for Africa, interest-free and backed by Gold standard.

This was the reason Gaddafi was always portrayed and treated as such a threat to Western interests. Had he been a simple dictator, content to live out his reign in luxury as an all-powerful ruler in his own domain, the West would’ve left him alone – just like various other dictators are left alone. It was his continuous interest in pursuing anti-Imperialist agendas that made him unpalatable: whether it was ensuring Libyan independence and self-sufficiency in the early 70s, trying to establish a strong Arab federation in the mid-to-late 70s, financially supporting worldwide ‘liberation movements’ throughout the 70s and 80s, or trying to establish African currency and independence in the 21st century, the Western powers realised that he wasn’t inclined to just sit there, playing the fiddle like Nero.

While Gaddafi certainly took steps to reconcile with the West and to try to improve relations (led in part by his son, Saif al-Islam), he never entirely gave up his anti-Colonial, anti-Imperialist views and ideas. He always retained that same attitude that had driven the 1969 ousting of the King. As late as the Second Africa/South America Summit in Venezuela in September 2009, he joined Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in calling for an “anti-imperialist front” across Africa and Latin America; this, in the same year he had made his controversial address to the UN General Assembly in New York.

By this point in time, it would’ve been clear to Western agencies that, for all his ‘reconciliation’ with the West in recent years, Gaddafi was still ultimately a problem and a nuisance.

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Where does all this bring us to in our search for the ‘real’ Gaddafi?

Nowhere definitive, probably. Just confirmation that he was a complex figure who can be viewed in many different lights depending on where you’re standing at any given time. probably lionised him a little too much when I compiled a book detailing the 2011 ‘Civil War’ and Western intervention; but I was really writing in the context of that year’s events and Gaddafi’s actions at that time.

It would be childish to call portray him as a faultless saint, as political affairs, particularly in such a troubled, unstable region, don’t create such figures. It is, by the same token, equally childish to portray Gaddafi as a cartoon Villain, which is what Western officials did for so long; a caricature that had very little basis in reality. Gaddafi was… simply Gaddafi; complex, enigmatic, flawed, but an extraordinary political, social and now historical figure, whose life, actions and legacy will inspire debate for generations to come.

In the end, in the final analysis, Muammar Gaddafi ends up a figure so difficult to pin down, so difficult to truly assess, that it may, as AllAfrica.com said, take “50 years” to truly come to a conclusion.

What the Western, NATO-led governments and their Islamist/Salafist terrorist friends did do in 2011, however, was inadvertently to make sure that whatever Gaddafi may or may not have been in his lifetime, he was an absolute hero in the final chapter. In 2011, Gaddafi was the great lion set upon and defeated by the corrupt alliance of wolves, jackals and vultures. He died a hero’s death, fighting a long, hero’s battle. Whatever else he may have been at any other time, he ended up the ultimate hero, the ultimate defender of his people and his country, waging one last, dying battle against corrupt, criminal forces of a morally-bankrupt global/financial Imperialism.

In essence, as I said earlier, the events of 2011 allowed Gaddafi to achieve an apotheosis as a natural end-point to the ‘revolutionary’ figure he had been in ’69 and the early 70s, almost erasing – to some extent -some of the less noble acts and periods in-between those times.

Fidel Castro summed up the 2011 crisis, saying, “If he (Gaddafi) resists and does not yield to their demands, he will enter history as one of the great figures.” Perhaps in some ways it was the only fitting end for the man who, in the first instance, had been the ultimate revolutionary.

 

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A Meditation on Aleppo, Syria, Libya & the Importance of Bashar Assad’s Survival

NOVANEWS

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It is difficult to look at the situation in Aleppo and not see it in a broader context. Not only of Syria, but of Libya, the past several years, and of the entire region. And of international affairs in general.

We probably shouldn’t; we should probably view different situations entirely in their own light. But I can’t help but look at Aleppo – both the fall of Aleppo to rebel militias and foreign-backed mercenaries and now the liberation or reclamation of Aleppo by Syrian government forces – and see it as a point on a timeline that goes all the way back to Benghazi, Tripoli, Sirte and elsewhere.

In some ways, that connection is obvious: as I’ve said before, I always saw the Libyan and Syrian nightmares as one event, albeit occurring in two different countries. And, for example, we know about how Libyan arms were smuggled from the fallen Gaddafi-era state into Syria under the watch of Turkey and the CIA for use by Syrian rebel militias, and how all of the same players involved in orchestrating, initiating and propagandising for the anti-Gaddafi movement in Libya were also involved in the anti-Assad uprising in Syria.

It occurs to me that the Syrian government victory in Aleppo isn’t just a strategic and territorial victory; it is a moral victory, not just of Syria over the various foreign-backed forces that were sent to terrorise and subdue its communities, but also a moral and symbolic victory in the context of a society struggling to survive amid a multi-faceted, multi-lateral conspiracy conducted by an international mafia that considers itself all-powerful.

If Assad and Syria do survive, it will drastically change the perception concerning the odds of potential survival against such a concerted geopolitical onslaught involving so many institutions, agencies and actors.

Gaddafi showed everyone how to fight: but Assad and the Syrian government have shown that you can win – albeit with massive help from foreign allies, and at massive, massive cost.
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It also occurs to me that Bashar Assad has outlasted virtually everyone who was insisting ‘Assad Must Go’ for years.

He has outlasted a Saudi King, a British Prime Minister in David Cameron, a French President in Sarkosy, another French President in Hollande, several other leaders or officials, and is now certainly going to outlast Barack Obama. He also, crucially, outlasted Hillary Clinton, who – even right up until a couple of months ago was still saying Assad would be removed as one of her “first priorities” when becoming president.

Hillary fell before Assad did – just think about that. Hell, Assad has even outlasted Turkish democracy.

He hasn’t outlasted Angela Merkel (yet); but, for the record, Merkel is actually one of the few leading Western officials who *hasn’t* sung from the ‘Assad Must Go’ hymn-sheet and has in fact generally said that Assad should be included in any plan for Syria’s future.

And Obama, in truth, has actually been softer on Assad and Syria – if it can be put that way – than Hillary or the Bush regime would’ve been. For all the talk of Obama himself having been behind the chaos in Syria, this simply isn’t true; he was simply inheriting a foreign-policy agenda that pre-dated him and was actually an extension of the Iraq War agenda (as was Libya: Libya and Syria both being on the Rumsfeld/Pentagon ‘hit-list’ immediately after 9/11 and leaked by Retired General Wesley Clarke).

And the Cheney/Rumsfeld regime still been in power at the time, Syria would’ve been outright invaded by the US military and Assad removed long ago.

We also have to remember how close we came to direct military invasion into Syria in 2013; and how Russian diplomatic intervention and – and I cite this so that people don’t forget – a British parliamentary no-vote against David Cameron’s wish to go into Syria and led principally by the much-maligned Labour Party leader Ed Miliband. Seriously, Ed Miliband – who lost the election – helped save Syria from Western military invasion and directly helped derail what was, at the time, an inexorable Washington-led push towards forced regime-change. People should remember that the next time they mock him for being ‘a Jew’ or a ‘Liberal Elite’ “Lib-Tard” or whatever other dumb labels get thrown around these days by dumb people.
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But Assad’s survival has been frankly Herculean.

Many of Assad’s critics place the blame on him for refusing to step aside. This is nonsense, of course: the President of the country could not go into exile when there was no feasible successor or alternative to take his place and when it would’ve meant leaving the country at the mercy of armed militias, mercenaries and foreign-backed jihadists. Assad – who, remember, had never really sought the Syrian presidency, but had wanted to be an eye doctor – had no choice but to fight: and he had no choice but to call upon Russia and Iran to assist him – without that help, he would’ve lost, he would be dead, and Syria would’ve gone the way of Libya and Iraq.

None of this is about lioinisng Assad himself; and I wholly accept that the Syrian state handled the early 2011 protests very badly and that – prior to the escalation of the fighting – there were civilian protesters and dissenters being cruelly and violently suppressed by state actors or agencies. I know this, having had it told to me by people who were there. And I also wholly accept that there were probably some very ugly figures in the regime who may also have been behind some horrible acts in early 2011; though there’s no real evidence that Bashar Assad himself was one of them.

Whatever the nature of the Syrian state going forward, the Syrian regime in the past was a very harsh one that didn’t tolerate dissent or anti-government opinion – but in this it was no different to any other state in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and including Bahrain (where the British PM has just been in recent days, selling weapons) and now, sadly, even Turkey.

I noted above how ironic it is that Assad has outlasted most of those leaders who were calling for him to go: in the case of Turkey, the irony is of a different kind. Here, we see a Turkish government – led by Erdogan – that has been acting criminally against Assad and the Syrian state for several years: a Turkish government that, when it started propagandising against Assad, was itself a democracy, but is now more or less a dictatorship and might end the war as more of an oppressive dictatorship than even what will be seen in Syria.

How ridiculous is that? To highlight the point, below is a picture of Assad laughing – and to further highlight how absurd all of this has become, I found a picture of him with Sting.
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And the thing is, if there hadn’t been a covert, dirty war fought against Assad and Syria, had foreign mercenaries and fighters not been flooded into Syria to terrorise the population, if international agencies and officials hadn’t been willing to sacrifice countless Syrian lives, communities and towns for the sake of dirty geopolitical schemes, and if Western media and governments hadn’t engaged in outright lies and propaganda campaigns to pervert reality and perception, then I wouldn’t care about Assad or the Syrian government: and in fact, I would probably be the kind of person who might’ve been criticising the Syrian state for its treatment of opposition and protest.

But that whole list of things did happen – and is still happening – and the entire narrative stopped being about whatever flaws or unpleasant things there used to be about the Syrian state and Syrian politics and became about the ceaseless array of unpleasant things that were being inflicted upon Syria and Syrians from the outside.

Every one of those things – every foreign terrorist, every false-flag event used to frame Assad as the ‘brutal tyrant’, every massacre and every deception employed to create a false narrative of events – has actually given Bashar Assad far more ‘legitimacy’ than he had *before* the war. Along with every scripted call of ‘Assad Must Go’ from Hillary Clinton, Sarkosy or anyone else, it has all actually had the precise opposite effect: it has made Assad the most ‘legitimate’ President of Syria that could be imagined at this point in time.
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And this was already arguably the case long before the retaking of Aleppo.

When it comes to dispelling the myth about ‘Assad the Tyrant’, who ‘countless Syrians’ want gone from their country, I could quote Eva Bartlett here or Vanessa Beeley or some other independent journalist who’s been in Syria and moved among Syrian people and communities. Instead, however, I’ll point us to a different source – just to reinforce the point.

Assad’s legitimacy, at least at this point in time, seems to be affirmed by an opinion poll from not that long ago commissioned by the BBC and conducted by the market research firm ORB (conducted across all 14 governates of Syria). The same poll found that a staggering 82 percent of those Syrians surveyed believe that Daesh or the so-called ‘Islamic State’ is the creation of Washington (85 percent of Iraqis were found to believe the same thing).

More importantly, the poll found that there is very little support for dividing the country and creating a federal system. In Syria, 70% oppose dividing the country up. What’s important about citing this particular source is that it isn’t a naturally pro-Assad or pro Syrian government source, so it’s findings are all the more significant. By the same token, an internal NATO study (dated June 2013, during some of the worst days of the fighting), which took stock of Syrian public opinion, found that some 70% of Syrians supported President Assad (with 20% expressing a neutral position and 10% supporting the “rebels”). Had a similar study been (honestly) undertaken in the past year, the percentage would be even higher.

 

I said earlier that Libya and Syria were/are the same war.

And neither is actually over yet. Where Gaddafi’s government lost in 2011, Assad’s government also lost: the former lost Tripoli and Benghazi and Sirte and other towns or cities, while the latter lost much of Aleppo, and Raqqa and elsewhere. And in both cases they were lost to the same schools of people on the ground, using the same methods, driven by the same ideologies, backed by the same foreign countries and supported by the same international media and government institutions.

The main difference was that Gaddafi was killed early, signalling the perceived collapse of the Libyan state against the marauding forces of chaos; whereas Assad managed to survive month after month, year after year, protected by his government forces and the Syrian Arab Army and aided by allies in Iran and Russia. And because he survived, he lived to fight another day.

And because he lived to fight another day, almost six years on from the initial crisis in Syria, he is now taking back territory from the rebels and jihadists, overturning the longstanding plans and operations of foreign powers and agencies, and winning not just the war on the ground but also the propaganda war and the high ground.

Had Gaddafi lasted long enough for the real nature of the Libyan rebellion to be widely exposed, for Western and Gulf-State deceptions to be unraveled and for the beginnings of the Migrant Crisis to start to appear, things may have started going back in his favor too.

As previously pointed out, the situation in Libya may have more recently been – albeit quietly – gravitating back towards a yearning for something resembling the Green Libya that the Western governments helped destroy in 2011. This has been most symbolised by the reported release from detention of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (pictured below in Tripoli in 2011), who had previously been sentenced to death.

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I wrote several months ago; ‘Imagine if Assad continues to preside over a re-unified and sovereign Syria and a Gaddafi begins to gather mass support to move towards not only unification, but restoration of the former Libyan republic. Then the brutal covert, regime-change wars that were inflicted on both nations in 2011 will have ultimately failed – albeit, only after several years of vast bloodshed and destruction…’

That might still, over time, prove to be what happens: and one wonders if the survival of the Syrian government might also hold symbolic value for Libyans, the Green Resistance and the possibility of rising back up from what had once seemed like total ruin and collapse.

The symbolic link between Libya and Syria isn’t just related to the ‘Arab Spring-turned-nightmare’ or 2011.

The Federation of Arab Republics had in fact been Muammar Gaddafi’s own initiative to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria in order to create a United Arab state based on secular Arab nationalism. The idea had, among other things, had broadly been to create strong Arab states that would, through mutual defense and cooperation, be able to withstand existential threats from the outside. Although approved by a referendum in each country on 1st September 1971, the idea never properly developed and was dead by 1977.

By 2011, it might’ve proven useful – because what has happened, via Neo-Con/PNAC policy in the Middle East since the Iraq War in 2003, has essentially been the deliberate, callous collapsing of three strong, independent, secular Arab states (Iraq, Libya, Syria) and the sought-after creation of huge pockets of lawless, terrorist-occupied territories and sectarian strife.

We know that, during the events of 2011 as the crisis was unfolding in both countries, Gaddafi had been in regular contact with Assad: and, to some extent, seeing what unfolded in Libya may have helped Assad and his government make key decisions in Syria. There were also suggestions from some sources that it had been Assad who had sold out Gaddafi’s location and movements to NATO bombers in Sirte, leading to the Libyan leader’s murder – allegedly, this had been in order to strike a deal with the French to buy Assad some more time. I don’t know if that version of events is true or not.

Either way, little over a year ago, it genuinely looked like Assad was finished and Syria was days away from Libya 2.0: a year later and, albeit with massive help from Russia, the situation is completely different.

Of course, victory in Aleppo doesn’t necessarily guarantee a quick end to the war or even Syria’s survival.Almost at the same time as the reports were breaking from Aleppo in recent days, the report was also breaking that ISIS fighters had gone back into Palmyra. Weapons are already being delivered again to rebel groups by Washington in the wake of the Syrian government victories in Aleppo. Turkey and Erdogan are still there and still an unknown factor in terms of long-term intention.
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And the Israeli government will not easily tolerate the Syrian President staying in place with the help of Iran and Hezbollah: indeed, if a Netanyahu/Trump alliance seeks to destroy Obama’s Iran Deal and resort to open hostile action against Iran, then the entire thing will blow up even more and Syria won’t even get the chance to rebuild or to establish peace. As much as Hillary was fixated on the regime-change in Syria, the incoming Trump administration is more than likely to be a stronger ally to Israel and fixated on Iran, which would mean Syria still wouldn’t necessarily be out of the woods – especially now that Iran is so heavily involved in Syria.

Trump was right about one thing recently – American foreign policy has essentially placed both Iraq and Syria under Iranian control. Which presumably wasn’t the plan, but is simply an indication of how catastrophically bad all of US policy in the Middle East has been from Iraq onward. Indeed, that perceived level of Iranian control is one of the main reasons ‘ISIS’ was able to flourish both in Iraq and in terms of the rebellion in Syria: because it was able to appeal to some Sunni Arab insecurities and fears about Iranian/Shia domination of the region.

There is also a question of whether Syria’s survival – if it does survive – will mark a decisive turning point in the geopolitical dynamics and signal the end of the programme; or whether conspirators will simply move onto a very vulnerable Lebanon instead, which was also part of the post-9/11 Rumsfeld/Neo-Con hit-list.

Of course, even if the Syrian government survives and the nation survives as a sovereign state, it has come at an extraordinarily high price in destruction and human life: they’ve had to fight for every inch of the country, and not only against the armed militant forces on the ground, and against endless false- flags and propaganda exercises, but with the entire weight of international government institutions and media against them for the entire five-to-six years.

But Bashar Assad, albeit with a lot of external help, has politically outlasted virtually everyone who has spent the passed several years trying to get rid of him. And the symbolic and propaganda – or counter-propaganda, as may be more accurate – weight and significance of that, both for Assad politically and for Syria as a sovereign nation and society, could be regarded as enormous.

If we were talking, just days ago, about the symbolic power of Fidel Castro and his defiance and resistance, then there’s really no way we can not talk about Assad and Syria – who have been under assault for almost six years from multiple armed militias and several nations and institutions, including some of the most powerful in the world – in that same light.

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi terrorists target children in Benghazi

NOVANEWS

Islamist terrorists target children in Benghazi while the West and UN look on

Benghazi car bombing scene, 21 Nov 2016

By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis

Islamist terrorists have committed yet another heinous crime in Benghazi, Libya’s second city.

On 21 November they detonated a car bomb in one of the city’s busiest streets near the main, Al-Jalaa hospital.

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The explosion took place at 1:30pm, exactly the time when children were returning home from school. At least three children were killed and 20 other people injured.

A series of recent car bombings in the city had been claimed by the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group and the so-called Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC).

The BRSC consists of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia group, the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Libya Shield 1 militia, and several other terrorist outfits, including the 17 February Martyrs Brigade, the Rafallah al-Sahati Brigade, Jaysh al-Mujahidin and the Brega Martyrs Brigade.

In May 2014 the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, launched Operation Dignity against the IS and the BRSC in Benghazi and elsewhere in the eastern province of Cyrenaica. In February 2016 the army succeeded in pushing the terrorists out of much of Benghazi.

At present, the remaining IS and BRSC terrorists are holed up in the small port of Ganfouda, south-west of central Benghazi, where they are using their families as human shields to deter a final onslaught by the LNA.

Map showing Ganfouda, south-west of Benghazi

Map showing Ganfouda, south-west of Benghazi

It is thought that the 21 November attack on the schoolchildren had been carried out by agents working for the terrorists besieged in Ganfouda.

Much fuss has been made in the Western media and among official circles about a Western-supported joint operation by Islamist and organised-crime groups called “Solid Structure” (Al-Bunyan al-Marsoos in Arabic), which aims to oust the IS from its stronghold in the central town of Sirte.

Operation “Solid Structure” is superficially sponsored by the United Nations-brokered and the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated “Government of National Accord”, which is based in a disused naval station in Tripoli and whose writ does not go beyond the offices it occupies, and has been supported by occasional US air strikes on Sirte. The operation is in essence a turf war between Islamist terrorists: on one side there is Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and organised-crime groups from the town of Misrata, and on the other there is the IS.

In fact, the LNA is the only force in Libya fighting the Islamist terrorists – all Islamist terrorists, not just the IS – who have sprung up throughout Libya since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in October 2011.

Despite this, the UN, the US and its European satellite states continue to insist on keeping an arms embargo on the LNA while publicly claiming to be committed to fighting terrorism.

As in Syria, in Libya the UN and the Western powers have allied themselves with one type of Islamist terrorists – the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda and its clones – against another type of Islamist terrorists, the IS.

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GADDAFI, Odd & Funny Facts: From Piccadilly Circus to Secret Pen-Pals

NOVANEWS

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As a few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of Muammar Gaddafi,I decided to mark it with a more low-key, fun-ish look back at Libya’s former national figurehead.

A more serious piece on the life and character of one of the most controversial world figures of the 20th century will follow in a few days, which I’d been working on for some time but hadn’t been able to finish in time.

In the meantime it occurs to me that while people mostly write very serious things – good or bad – about Gaddafi and his era, and much of it centers unfortunately on his brutal death and the horrific events in Libya from 2011 to now, it might be nicer for a change to look at a few of the more lighthearted curiosities and tidbits from Gaddafi’s monumental and controversial life. And, given how odd and epic a story his life was and how eccentric and odd a figure Gaddafi himself could be, there are quite a few curious or interesting facts or stories to pick from.

Recounting such trivia perhaps helps to humanise the man and prevent him from being presented only as an archetype, a symbol or a caricature.

Here then are some of the most curious, funny or otherwise interesting little bits of trivia I’ve come across about Muammar Gaddafi over the years.

For example, Gaddafi had a Jewish pen-pal who lived in Brooklyn.

Louis Schlamowitz had actually begun writing to Gaddafi way back in the 1960s and the letters only stopped in 2011 when the foreign-backed uprising in Libya began, at which time the Brooklyn-based florist was 81 years old. What is remarkable, and kind of endearing, about this story is that Gaddafi always wrote back, maintaining this pen-pal correspondence for decades. “He was a good pen-pal,” the elderly florist said. “I felt it was very nice of him to take the time to write back to me, because I’m nobody special.”

Mr Schlamowitz, who also exchanged letters with Marylin Monroe and Richard Nixon among others, said his correspondence with the Libyan leader aroused suspicion from the FBI and American agencies who visited him to ask what he was playing at.

A Christmas card from Gaddafi, written around 2000, thanked Mr Schlamowitz for his “friendship through the years”.

Gaddafi spent time in England as a student in the sixties. In April 1966, he was sent to Britain for training; spending time undergoing military training in Dorset and Kent and an English language course at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire.

One of his instructors from this time called him “hard working, conscientious” and “an amusing officer”, adding that he was an avid reader of books and also enjoyed playing football. Gaddafi disliked England, however, and later claimed that British Army officers had racially insulted him on a regular basis. He also claimed to have found it very difficult adjusting to the country’s culture. One wonders, with hindsight, whether these experiences might have had some impact on his later attitude towards the Colonialist powers, Britain in particular. The experience may have also caused him to retreat more into his Arab identity and his desert roots.
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There is a very amusing picture (above) of the young Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966,dressed in traditional Bedouin robes, while two English old ladies look on, bemused.

Um, yes, he appears to have had a major crush on former US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice. He apparently did keep a photo album filled with pictures of her. Rice later claimed to have been fully aware of Gaddafi’s interest in her from their personal interactions. He once claimed he was “very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders.” I guess the heart wants what the heart wants.

And yes, like Augustus in Ancient Rome, he also decided to rename the months. February was ‘Lights’, August was ‘Hannibal’ (that other great, mythic ‘hero’ of Libyan history, who had waged war on the Romans).

Gaddafi contributed towards Welsh independence.

Gaddafi donated funding to Welsh independence party Plaid Cymru. The Libyan leader was known for his financial support of ‘liberation movements’ and oppressed groups worldwide: from Mandela and the ANC to the Maoris in New Zealand and Aborigines in Australia, the Black Panthers in America, the IRA, the PLO, the Sandanistas in Nicaragua. etc. It appears that, included in this long list, was Plaid Cymru in Wales.

This is confirmed in an upcoming book by Plaid Cymru activist Dr Carl Clowes, who recounts his visit to Libya in the 70s and Gaddafi’s donations to the party. “Libya had the best health and education systems in the whole of Africa,” he says, recalling his delegation’s visit to the country. He suggests Gaddafi’s donation to Plaid Cymru was motivated by his general desire to disrupt the ‘Western Imperialist’ status quo.

Gaddafi is credited with having supposedly invented the ‘world’s safest car’.

The Libyan Rocket, which looks like a sleek, futuristic vehicle, is said to have had a collapsible bumper, the ability to travel miles with flat tires, and a device that can cut fuel supply during accident to avoid fire. It was never mass produced, as the 2011 Libyan Civil War derailed the project.
Gaddafis-Rocket-Safest-Car-2
There are obviously a bunch of apocryphal stories about Gaddafi, which we don’t know whether they’re true or false.One of these, for example, concerns the idea that the young Gaddafi had bunked with Muhammad Ali in London in the 1960s. Supposedly, sitting on Ali’s bed, the young student had talked about his plans for future revolution. ‘Watch, one day you will see,’ Gaddafi had allegedly said, while a half asleep Ali had (supposedly) reacted “Sheeet, you crazy!”

I’m guessing this probably didn’t happen; but it’s a fabulous story. We do know that Ali did visit Libya as a guest of Gaddafi some years later.

And yes, he once, in a fit of anger, proposed to ‘abolish’ the nation of Switzerland – and yes, that’s probably the funniest Gaddafi story there is.

No one knows his date of birth. The circumstances of Gaddafi’s birth, fittingly enough, have the almost prophetic air of something out of scripture or myth. The son of an impoverished Bedouin goat herder, Muammar Gaddafi was born in a tent near Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural area outside the town of Sirte in the deserts of western Libya. Curiously, Gaddafi’s date of birth is not known for certain, as his parents were Nomadic Bedouin and were illiterate and did not keep birth records.

Education in Libya was not free at that time (though it would after Gaddafi took power), but Gaddafi’s father funded his son’s education despite the great financial difficulty. During the weeks, Gaddafi slept in a local mosque, having no home, and at weekends he walked some 20 miles to visit his parents in their traditional dwellings. Reportedlty bullied for being a Bedouin, he was nevertheless proud of his identity and was said to have actively encouraged this same pride in other Bedouin children.

But he wasn’t embarassed by his humble roots, and in fact emphasized it wherever possible. Despite his increasingly odd and ostentatious dress-sense, he was also always keen to emphasise his humble Bedouin roots and would therefore receive dignitaries in his signature sprawling white tent, which he erected wherever he went: Rome, Paris and, after much controversy, New York, on a Westchester estate in 2009. Everyone from Tony Blair to Vladimir Putin (pictured below) would have to enter the tent if they wanted to meet with the Libyan figurehead.
gaddafi-putin-tent

He was inspired in part by Abraham Lincoln…

As a young man and student, he later claimed to have read voraciously on the subjects of General Nasser and Egypt, the French Revolution of 1789, the works of Christian Syrian political theorist Michel Aflaq and, interestingly, the biography of Abraham Lincoln. “Lincoln was a man who created himself from nothing without any help from outside or other people. I followed his struggles. I see certain similarities between him and me,” he said in a book published by The Pittsburg Press in 1986 called Gaddafi: The Man the World Loves to Hate.

Nelson Mandela named one of his grandchildren after Gaddafi.

After Mr Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, he rejected pressure from Western leaders – including then-US President Bill Clinton – to sever ties with Gaddafi, who had in fact largely bankrolled his election campaign. “Those who feel irritated by our friendship with Gaddafi can go jump in the pool,” Mandela had said. He added pointedly, “Those that yesterday were friends of our enemies have the gall today to tell me not to visit my brother Gaddafi.”
gaddafi-mandela34

In 1997, Mandela awarded Gaddafi the highest official honour in South Africa in recognition for his support of human rights and the struggle against Apartheid.

While many of the monuments or landmarks associated with Gaddafi have been destroyed or torn down since his death, and many of the cities and urban developments he supervised the building of have been devastated by NATO bombing or left in ruin, various monuments or sites associated with or in honour of the late Libyan leader still stand outside of Libya.

Examples being the Gaddafi Mosques in Tanzania, Kampala and Uganda, as well as Pakistan’s biggest sports stadium, the Gaddafi Stadium (in Lahore). There is still ongoing debate in Pakistan as to whether the country’s most illustrious stadium should be renamed or should remain as Gaddafi Stadium.
gaddafi-stadium

Yes, one of the oddest and most eccentric things Gaddafi ever did was to create his elite, all-female bodyguard unit, the Amazon Guard. However, despite some salacious claims in Western media about the nature or relationship between Gaddafi and the women, it was always claimed that each of the female bodyguards was a virgin for life. I have no idea if that’s true; and the Amazonian Guard really was one of the strangest, most baffling, things Gaddafi ever came up with. Following the downfall of Gaddafi and Libya, the fate of many of the women was unknown, but photographic evidence existed to suggest that some of them were hunted down by Libyan rebels and brutally tortured and murdered.

Just weeks before Western media was calling Gaddafi a war criminal, brutal tyrant and accusing him of massacring civilians, Gaddafi was the frontrunner for Amnesty International’s ‘Human Rights Hero, 2011’ award. It will be athousand years before someone goes from ‘Human Rights Hero’ to ‘brutal war criminal’ as quickly as that again.

And yes, Gaddafi had proposed ‘SATO’; a ‘NATO of the South’ that would be set-up in opposition to NATOand would’ve been constituted by African and South-American nations forming a mutual defense initiative. It sounds facetious, but he may have had a serious underlying point about the imperialist North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the need for an equal and opposite organisation.

No one knows where Gaddafi is buried.

After his brutal murder in October 2011, his body was kept on display for weeks before eventually being buried in an unmarked grave at an unknown location to prevent his tomb becoming a shrine.

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A more serious, bigger piece to mark the fifth anniversary of Gaddafi’s death, which was meant to go up on the 21st, will appear here in the next few days. Meanwhile, you can read all older Libya posts here.

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Surviving Torture in a CIA Secret Prison: Khaled al-Sharif of Libya Recounts Horrors

NOVANEWS

Image result for CIA Secret Prison PHOTO

A shocking new report details how harsh American interrogation methods have led to devastating psychiatric disorders in former prisoners. The New York Times exposé is titled “How US Torture Left a Legacy of Damaged Minds.” It found at least half of the 39 prisoners who went through the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation program have since shown psychiatric problems — some have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, depression or psychosis. These prisoners were subjected to torture techniques such as severe sleep deprivation, waterboarding, mock execution, sexual violations and confinement in coffin-like boxes in secret CIA prisons and at Guantánamo. We air a video of Khaled al-Sharif speaking to New York Times correspondent Sheri Fink about how his two years in a secret CIA prison continues to haunt him today.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to a shocking new report detailing how harsh American investigation methods — sorry, interrogation methods have led to devastating psychiatric disorders in former detainees. The New York Times exposé is titled “How US Torture Left a Legacy of Damaged Minds.” It found at least half of the 39 detainees who went through the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation program have since shown psychiatric problems — some have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, depression or psychosis. These detainees were subjected to torture techniques such as severe sleep deprivation, waterboarding, mock execution, sexual violations and confinement in coffin-like boxes in secret CIAprisons and at Guantánamo.

AMY GOODMAN: Later in the show, we’ll be joined by New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Risen, co-author of the series. But first let’s turn to Khaled al-Sharif, who spoke to New York Times correspondent Sheri Fink about his two years in a secret CIA prison and how it continues to haunt him today.

KHALED AL-SHARIF: [translated] Of course, the psychological effects of this experience and this injustice that happened to me from spending a long time in solitary, there’s no doubt that you go through states of depression. Likewise, the family went through this experience of fear. They’re now worried. They’re always afraid of tomorrow. They fear I’ll disappear like I disappeared the first time.

SHERI FINK: Khaled al-Sharif is a Libyan citizen. He was a deputy head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an anti-Gaddafi organization that, according to the US State Department, had ties to al-Qaeda. Because of this, he was arrested in 2003 in Pakistan and sent to a secret prison operated by the CIA. And there he stayed for two years.

This is Sheri Fink. I’m a correspondent for The New York Times. I met Mr. al-Sharif, now a free man, in Turkey in September to interview him about these secret CIA prisons, like the two where he was held, and the lasting effects of his treatment there.

KHALED AL-SHARIF: [translated] I was put inside this small cell, and my wrists were tied to the ceiling. I was in this position for a few hours. Then they took me to the interrogation room. The questions from the start were about my relationship with al-Qaeda. I told them I wasn’t a member of al-Qaeda and had no relationship with them at all.

SHERI FINK: Mr. al-Sharif was held in these so-called CIA black sites at the same time as two of his fellow LIFG members, Mohamed Ben Soud, who produced the drawings you’re seeing in this video, and Salih al-Daeiki.

KHALED AL-SHARIF: [translated] Yes, they were all members of the LIFG, and we all knew each other. And we lived together as Libyans in Peshawar.

SHERI FINK: Their treatment in CIA custody during this time has been partially documented by the US government in the Senate torture report of 2014.

KHALED AL-SHARIF: [translated] I was put in a tub, and then they pour water on your face until you start suffocating and you can’t breathe. They threatened to put me in a small box that they would cram you into by force. I was also tied from my wrists and feet to a ring on the wall for more than a month.

SHERI FINK: Starting in 2004, the US handed the three men over to Libyan authorities. In Libya, they were imprisoned until the fall of Gaddafi in 2011. Today, Mr. al-Sharif runs a prison in Tripoli, where his prison mate, Salih al-Daeiki, became the head interrogator. It’s an irony that’s not lost on Mr. al-Sharif.

KHALED AL-SHARIF: [translated] [The prison] was created after the revolution by government decree. And I was appointed by the government to run the place. It’s a strange paradox that a man finds himself in places he didn’t expect or want to be in. I was a prisoner, and I became the head of a prison that had in custody many members of the previous regime.

SHERI FINK: Mr. al-Sharif found himself on the other end of torture allegations when, in August 2015, this video recording surfaced. It’s a graphic scene of interrogation in his prison. The man blindfolded is a son of Gaddafi. Outside the door, men appear to be undergoing beatings. The man you see in the blue vest and robe is none other than Salih al-Daeiki, Mr. al-Sharif’s former prison mate. He stands by and watches as the interrogations continue. When I interviewed him, Mr. al-Daeiki told me that he was there when Gaddafi’s son was beaten, and didn’t try to stop it. Despite being in charge of interrogations, he said it wasn’t in his power.

INTERPRETER: [translated] Was Salih endorsing the torture in the video?

KHALED AL-SHARIF: [translated] Of course, the video, regarding Salih — I don’t think he himself struck anyone, but it was possible for him to prevent that from happening. It’s not a policy. It’s not usual for Salih or those with him to behave that way.

SHERI FINK: That answer was in response to a line of questioning I had for Mr. al-Sharif. How might the CIA’s treatment of Salih have continued to influence his behavior? I asked Mr. al-Sharif if his own detainment still affected him.

KHALED AL-SHARIF: [translated] The effects are still there. And they still affect my life. Sometimes, when I hear the music that was played to us for a whole year in prison, when I’m just walking by or in a place and I hear a bit of this music, I’ll feel a cold shiver, and my memory will take me back to that time.

AMY GOODMAN: That was former prisoner Khaled al-Sharif speaking to New York Times correspondent Sheri Fink. Al-Sharif is just one of the many prisoners who, The New York Times found, continues to suffer persistent mental health problems after surviving beatings, sleep deprivation and torture techniques in secretCIA prisons. When we come back, we’ll speak with New York Times reporter James Risen and military psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Xenakis. Stay with us.

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Libya: Five Years After Gaddafi’s Brutal Murder

The Lynching of Muammar Gaddafi

Five years after the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow and brutal murder (on October 20, 2011) the situation is now far worse than it was five years ago, as rival militias fighting for control.

Libya has been split between rival parliaments and governments, each backed by a loose array of militias and tribes. Now five years on, Libya is caught between two rival governments, with the western recognized parliament forced into exile in the eastern city of Tobruk in 2014, following a military uprising from the opponent group known as ‘Libyan Dawn’, who have since set up parliament in the capital, Tripoli.

While accurate figures are hard to ascertain, estimates suggest tens of thousands have died in Libya as a result of the conflict since 2011.

Libya’s conflict has left 1.9 million people with serious health needs in a country that lacks medical professionals, medicines and vaccines, according to the World Health Organization.

CIA-Backed General Khalifa Haftar Seizes Control Of Libyan Oil Fields (The African Globe)

In a dramatic development, on September 12, 2016, forces loyal to CIA-backed General Khalifa Haftar took control of two key oil ports. His troops seized Al Sidra and Ras Lanuf terminals on Libya’s Mediterranean coast and hoped to seize a third terminal, Al Zueitina, said Brigadier General Ahmed Al Mosmary, a spokesman for General Haftar’s forces.

General Haftar, has refused to endorse a UN-backed national unity government in Tripoli and remains loyal to the rival administration based in the east of the country.

His forces took the Ras Lanuf and Al Sidra terminals, together capable of handling 700,000 barrels of oil per day, from a militia loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA). The majority of Libya’s oil exports went through the three terminals before the militia, known as the Petroleum Facilities Guards, seized them more than two years ago.

If the terminals are operational again and oil exports resume, the revenues, together with a continuing political impasse, could provide the eastern region an extra incentive to declare self-rule.

Following the capture of the oil ports, the House of Representatives has promoted Haftar from general to field marshal.

General Haftar was a military chief under Muammar Gaddafi before turning against him and calling for his overthrow from exile in the United States. In 2011, General Haftar returned to Libya and commanded some of the rebel units that defeated Gaddafi, aided by Nato air power.

According to The New Yorker, as military commander of the Salvation Front, he plotted an invasion of Libya—but Gaddafi outflanked him. The C.I.A. had to airlift Haftar and three hundred and fifty of his men to Zaire and, eventually, to the United States. Haftar was given citizenship, and remained in the U.S. for the next twenty years.

Leaked tapes expose Western support for renegade Libyan general

General Haftar enjoys the support of several Arab nations, including Egypt, the UAE and Jordan, as well as others in the West.

General Haftar’s air force commander, Saqr Geroshi, was quoted as saying by the UAE newspaper The National in July, that along with 20 French personnel, small units of British and American Special Forces were also deployed with the Tobruk army at Benghazi’s Benina airport.

A multinational military operation involving British, French and US forces is coordinating air strikes in support of a renegade general battling militia groups from a base near Benghazi in eastern Libya, according to air traffic recordings obtained by Middle East Eye reveal.

The leaked tapes appear to confirm earlier reports suggesting the existence of an international operations centre that is helping General Khalifa Haftar in his campaign to gain control of eastern Libya from groups he has declared to be “extremists”.

The leaked tapes feature pilots and air traffic controllers speaking in Arabic and English. British, American, French and Italian accents can be heard.

The presence of foreign special forces in Libya has been known for several months, but until now they were thought to be working only with the western recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). In May, the Pentagon confirmed it had units advising local forces. Pro-GNA militias from Misurata have said British special forces were helping them to capture the extremist group’s main base in the town of Sirte. What is new is that western Special Forces are also on the ground supporting General Haftar.

The French connection

In July last, it was reported that three French special forces operatives killed in Libya were working with General Khalifa Haftar.

France first admitted that its units were in the country. Hours later president Francois Hollande said three operatives on a “dangerous reconnaissance mission” had been killed in a helicopter crash there the previous.

French newspaper Le Monde has reported that the three men were not soldiers but agents from its elite intelligence service, Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE).

The Associated Press reported that France had launched air strikes on the militia that claimed to have shot down the helicopter, the Benghazi Defense Brigades, killing at least 14 fighters.

Five years after Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal murder the situation is now far worse than it was five years ago. While accurate figures are hard to ascertain, estimates suggest tens of thousands have died in Libya since 201,1as a result of the NATO’s intervention to depose Gaddafi.

The militants attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 remains a burning issue among Republicans, who hold the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, partially responsible for the deaths of four Americans, including the ambassador John Christopher Stevens.

Libyan strongman met an undignified and horrific end that was deliberate to send a strong message to the western client leaders in the Muslim world that they can meet the same fate as Gaddafi and the Iraqi President Saddam Hussain who was hanged on the first day of Eid ul-Adha, December 30, 2006

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Ex-arms dealer claims US pinned weapon sales to Libya on him to ‘protect’ Clinton 

NOVANEWS
Image result for Hillary Clinton CARTOON
RT 

An American arms dealer, previously indicted for arming Libyan rebels, accused the US of using him as a scapegoat to protect Hillary Clinton. He says the government used his plan to ship weapons to Libya, some of which wound up in terrorists’ hands.

“I would say, 100 percent, I was victimized … to somehow discredit me, to throw me under the bus, to do whatever it took to protect their next presidential candidate,” Marc Turi told Fox News.

He says that he had specifically been targeted by the Obama administration for years. Eventually, he said, he “lost everything – my family, my friends, my business, my reputation.”

Indicted with four felony counts in 2014, Turi’s trial would have start on November 8, but the Department of Justice suddenly dropped charges against him last week.

Turi now says that the abrupt move was not just good luck for him, but rather let the US government avoid unwanted revelations, “especially in this election year.”

“Those transcripts from current as well as former CIA officers were classified,” Turi told Fox’s Catherine Herridge, referring to what would have been the major evidence against the US government. After two years of sparring over the evidence, the DOJ opted to toss out Turi’s case with prejudice.

“If any of these relationships [had] been revealed it would have opened up a can of worms. There wouldn’t have been any good answer for the US government especially in this election year,” he said.

The transcripts Turi referred to reportedly included his email exchange with Chris Stevens, America’s envoy to the Libyan opposition, in 2011. Turi was offering the government to supply Libyan rebels with conventional weapons through Qatar and UAE, to bypass the UN’s ban on direct sales. He called it “a zero footprint scheme.”

However, he told Fox News that he neither ever “shipped anything,” nor “even received the contract.”

“So all I received was an approval for $534 million to support our interests overseas. And it would have been the United States government that facilitated that operation from Qatar and UAE by way of allowing those countries to land their planes and land their ships in Libya,” he said.

Shortly after Turi’s exchange with Stevens, Hillary Clinton wrote in response to her aide Jake Sullivan’s memo, “fyi. the idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered.”

Turi believes it was not a coincidence that Clinton sent her email that day.

“When you look at this timeline, none of it was a coincidence. It was all strategically managed and it had to come from her own internal circle,” he said.

However, as he also told Fox News, he thinks those emails that contained any information about the weapons programs were deleted by Hillary Clinton and her team.

“It would have gone to an organization within the Bureau of Political Military affairs within the State Department known as PM/RSAT (Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers.) That’s where you would find Jake Sullivan, Andrew Shapiro and a number of political operatives that would have been intimately involved with this foreign policy,” Turi said.

The email that Clinton sent to Sullivan, dated April, 8, 2011, was declassified and released on May 22, 2015, but that line about “private security experts” was redacted. The Select Committee on Benghazi, however, said it was one of the emails that highlighted “significant investigative questions.”

Nearly two years later, Clinton testified in front of the Senate about the 2012 Benghazi consulate attack, telling Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) that she did not know whether the US was involved in any weapons deals and arms transfers.

“With all the resources that they were throwing at me, I knew there would have to be some type of explanation of the operation that was going terribly wrong in Libya,” Turi said. “It is completely un-American … I was a contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Turi claims it was Clinton and the State Department that had the lead and people dealing with weapons flowing to Libya and Syria. What’s even more concerning is that, as Turi says, some arms might have ended in the hands of terrorists.

“Some [weapons] may have … [gone]out under control that we had with our personnel over there and the others went to these militia. That’s how they lost control over it,” Turi said. “I can assure you that these operations did take place and those weapons did go in different directions.”

He then did not rule out a possibility that terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda or Ansar al-Sharia and even Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) could have acquired those weapons.

“All of them, all of them, all of them,” he responded to Fox News.

However, with charges against Turi dropped, it is most likely that emails that could have exposed Clinton’s support for his “zero footprint” plan will remain secret.

“Documents that would have come out would be very embarrassing to the administration,” Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, told RT. “What happened in Libya is that the US was pretending to send weapons to moderates and it ended up that they are all jihadists, all extremists.”

Conn M. Hallinan, a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus, also said that if Turi’s case ever made it to trial, Clinton’s campaign would be ruined.

“Of course the United States was supplying weapons to the Libyan rebels. It’s very common for the US to use private contractors,” he told RT. “Libya was Hillary Clinton’s operation, she designed the entire Libya operation. That would have been a complete catastrophe and so she has backed herself away from it.”

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The Forgotten Libyan Lessons and the Syrian War

NOVANEWS

Exclusive: Western leaders are plotting to bomb another Mideast nation, this time Syria, citing “humanitarianism.” But similar claims in Iraq and Libya were deceptive and ended up killing far more people than were “saved,” says Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Most intelligent Americans – Republicans as well as Democrats – now accept that they were duped into the Iraq War with disastrous consequences, but there is more uncertainty about the war on Libya in 2011 as well as the ongoing proxy war on Syria and the New Cold War showdown with Russia over Ukraine.

Today, many Democrats don’t want to admit that they have been manipulated into supporting new imperial adventures against Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Russia by the Obama administration as it pulls some of the same propaganda strings that George W. Bush’s administration did in 2002-2003.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013, about the fatal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. 2012. (Photo from C-SPAN coverage)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013, about the fatal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. 2012. (Photo from C-SPAN coverage)

Yet, as happened with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, we have seen a similar hysteria about the evil doings of the newly demonized foreign leaders with the predictable Hitler allusions and vague explanations about how some terrible misdeeds halfway around the world threaten U.S. interests.

Though people mostly remember the false WMD claims about Iraq, much of the case for the invasion was based on protecting “human rights,” spreading “democracy,” and eliminating a supporter of Palestinians who were violently resisting Israeli rule.

The justification for aggression against Iraq was not only to save Americans from the supposed risk of Iraq somehow unleashing poison gas on U.S. cities but to free the Iraqis from a brutal dictator, the argument which explained why Bush’s neocon advisers predicted that Iraqis would shower American troops with rose petals and candies.

Those same “humanitarian” arguments were out in force to justify the U.S.-European “regime change” in Libya eight years later. As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted – even this year – Muammar Gaddafi was a “genocidal” dictator bent on slaughtering the people of eastern Libya (though Gaddafi insisted that he was only interested in killing the “terrorists”).

After a frenzied media reaction to Gaddafi’s supposedly genocidal plans, Western nations argued that the world had a “responsibility to protect” Libyan civilians, a concept known as “R2P.” In haste, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution to protect civilians by imposing a “no-fly zone” over eastern Libya.

But the subsequent invasion involved U.S.-coordinated air strikes on Gaddafi’s forces and European Special Forces on the ground working with anti-Gaddafi rebels. Before long, the “no-fly zone” had expanded into a full-scale “regime change” operation, ending in the slaughter of many young Libyan soldiers and the sodomy-with-a-knife-then-murder of Gaddafi.

As Western leaders celebrated — Secretary Clinton exulted  “We came, we saw, he died” — Libyans began the hard work of trying to restructure their political system amid roaming bands of heavily armed jihadist rebels. Soon, it became clear that restoring order would not be easy and that Gaddafi was right about the presence of terrorists in Benghazi (when some overran the U.S. consulate killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.)

Libya, which once had an enviable standard of living based on its oil riches, slid into the status of failed state, now with three governments competing for control and with jihadist militias, including some associated with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, disrupting the nation. The result has been a far worse humanitarian crisis than existed before the West invaded.

Lessons from Libya

So, there should be lessons learned from Libya, just as there should have been lessons learned from Iraq. But the U.S. political/media establishment has refused to perform a serious autopsy of these monumental failures (U.S. inquiries only looked narrowly at the WMD falsehoods about Iraq and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi for Libya). So, it has fallen to the British to take a broader view.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the four victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Sept. 14, 2012. [State Department photo)

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the four victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Sept. 14, 2012. [State Department photo)

The British inquiries have had their own limitations, but the Chilcot report on Iraq catalogued many of the flawed decisions that led Prime Minister Tony Blair to sign up for President George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” — and a recent parliamentary report revealed how Prime Minister David Cameron fell into a similar pattern regarding Libya and President Obama.Of course, it’s always easier to detect the manipulations and deceptions in hindsight. In real time, the career pressures on politicians, bureaucrats and journalists can overwhelm any normal sense of skepticism. As the propaganda and disinformation swirl around them, all the “smart” people agree that “something must be done” and that usually means bombing someone.

We are seeing the same pattern play out today with the “group think” in support of a major U.S. military intervention in Syria (supposedly to impose the sweet-sounding goal of a “no-fly zone,” the same rhetorical gateway used to start the “regime change” wars in Iraq and Libya).

We are experiencing the same demonization of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin that we witnessed before those other two wars on Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. Every possible allegation is made against them, often based on dubious and deceitful “evidence,” but it goes unchallenged because to question the propaganda opens a person to charges of being an “apologist” or a “stooge.”

Past Is Prologue

But looking back on how the disasters in Iraq and Libya unfolded is not just about the past; it’s about the present and future.

Hundreds of refugees from Libya line up for food at a transit camp near the Tunisia-Libya border. March 5, 2016. (Photo from the United Nations)

Hundreds of refugees from Libya line up for food at a transit camp near the Tunisia-Libya border. March 5, 2016. (Photo from the United Nations)

In that sense, the findings by the U.K. parliament’s foreign affairs committee regarding Libya deserved more attention than they received because they demonstrated that the Iraq case was not a one-off anomaly but rather part of a new way to rationalize imperial wars.

And the findings showed that these tactics are bipartisan, used by all four major parties in the U.S. and U.K.: Bush was a Republican; Blair was Labour; Obama a Democrat; and Cameron a Conservative. Though the nuances may differ slightly, the outcomes have been the same.

The U.K. report also stripped away many of the humanitarian arguments used to sell the Libyan war and revealed the crass self-interest beneath. For instance, the French, who helped spearhead the Libyan conflict, publicly lamented the suffering of civilians but privately were eager to grab a bigger oil stake in Libya and to block Gaddafi’s plans to supplant the French currency in ex-French colonies of Africa.

The report cited an April 2, 2011 email to Secretary of State Clinton from her unofficial adviser Sidney Blumenthal explaining what French intelligence officers were saying privately about French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s real motives for pushing for the military intervention in Libya:

“a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production, b. Increase French influence in North Africa, c. Improve his internal political situation in France, d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world, e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.”

Regarding France’s “humanitarian” public rationale, the U.K. report quoted then-French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé as warning the U.N. about the imminence of Gaddafi engaging in a mass slaughter of civilians: “We have very little time left — perhaps only a matter of hours.”

But the report added, “Subsequent analysis suggested that the immediate threat to civilians was being publicly overstated and that [Gaddafi’s] reconquest of cities had not resulted in mass civilian casualties.”

The report also found that “Intelligence on the extent to which extremist militant Islamist elements were involved in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was inadequate,” including the participation of Abdelhakim Belhadj and other members of Al Qaeda’s affiliate, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. A senior defense official said the jihadist danger was played down during the conflict but “with the benefit of hindsight, that was wishful thinking at best.”

The report stated: “The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight. Libyan connections with transnational militant extremist groups were known before 2011, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda.”

(This year, Belhadj and his jihadist militia were enlisted by U.S. officials to protect the U.S.-U.N.-backed “Government of National Accord,” which has failed to win over the support of rival factions, in part, because more secular Libyan leaders distrust Belhadj and resent outsiders deciding who should run Libya.)

Hyperbolic Claims

The U.K. committee criticized the West’s hyperbolic claims about Gaddafi’s intent to slaughter civilians in eastern Libya when his actions were making clear that wasn’t happening.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

The report said:  “Muammar Gaddafi’s actions in February and March 2011 demonstrated an appreciation of the delicate tribal and regional nature of Libya that was absent in UK policymaking. In particular, his forces did not take violent retribution against civilians in towns and cities on the road to Benghazi. [North Africa analyst] Alison Pargeter told us that any such reprisals would have ‘alienated a lot of the tribes in the east of Libya’ on which the Gaddafi regime relied. …

“Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence. The Gaddafi regime had retaken towns from the rebels without attacking civilians in early February 2011. …

“During fighting in Misrata, the hospital recorded 257 people killed and 949 people wounded in February and March 2011. Those casualties included 22 women and eight children. Libyan doctors told United Nations investigators that Tripoli’s morgues contained more than 200 corpses following fighting in late February 2011, of whom two were female. The disparity between male and female casualties suggested that Gaddafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians.”

The report added: “On 17 March 2011, Muammar Gaddafi announced to the rebels in Benghazi, ‘Throw away your weapons, exactly like your brothers in Ajdabiya and other places did. They laid down their arms and they are safe. We never pursued them at all.’ Subsequent investigation revealed that when Gaddafi regime forces retook Ajdabiya in February 2011, they did not attack civilians. Muammar Gaddafi also attempted to appease protesters in Benghazi with an offer of development aid before finally deploying troops.”

In another reprise from the Iraq War run-up, the U.K. inquiry determined that Libyan exiles played key roles in exaggerating the dangers from Gaddafi, much like the Iraqi National Congress did in fabricating supposed “evidence” of Saddam Hussein’s WMD. The report said:

“We were told that émigrés opposed to Muammar Gaddafi exploited unrest in Libya by overstating the threat to civilians and encouraging Western powers to intervene. In the course of his 40-year dictatorship Muammar Gaddafi had acquired many enemies in the Middle East and North Africa, who were similarly prepared to exaggerate the threat to civilians.”

Qatar’s Al-Jazeera satellite channel, which currently is hyping horror stories in Syria, was doing the same in Libya, the U.K. committee learned.

“Alison Pargeter told us that the issue of mercenaries was amplified [with her saying]: ‘I also think the Arab media played a very important role here. Al-Jazeera in particular, but also al-Arabiya, were reporting that Gaddafi was using air strikes against people in Benghazi and, I think, were really hamming everything up, and it turned out not to be true.’”

Allegations Debunked

The report continued: “An Amnesty International investigation in June 2011 could not corroborate allegations of mass human rights violations by Gaddafi regime troops. However, it uncovered evidence that rebels in Benghazi made false claims and manufactured evidence.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron talk at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, June 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron talk at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, June 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“The investigation concluded that much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge. …

“In short, the scale of the threat to civilians was presented with unjustified certainty. US intelligence officials reportedly described the intervention as ‘an intelligence-light decision’. We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya. …

“It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime; it selectively took elements of Muammar Gaddafi’s rhetoric at face value; and it failed to identify the militant Islamist extremist element in the rebellion. UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.”

If any of this sounds familiar – echoing the pre-coup reporting from Ukraine in 2013-2014 or the current coverage in Syria – it should. In all those cases, Western diplomats and journalists put white hats on one side and black hats on the other, presenting a simplistic, imbalanced account of the complicated religious, ethnic and political aspects of these crises.

The U.K. report also exposed how the original goal of protecting civilians merged seamlessly into a “regime change” war. The report said:

“The combination of coalition airpower with the supply of arms, intelligence and personnel to the rebels guaranteed the military defeat of the Gaddafi regime. On 20 March 2011, for example, Muammar Gaddafi’s forces retreated some 40 miles from Benghazi following attacks by French aircraft. If the primary object of the coalition intervention was the urgent need to protect civilians in Benghazi, then this objective was achieved in less than 24 hours.

“The basis for intervention: did it change? We questioned why NATO conducted air operations across Libya between April and October 2011 when it had secured the protection of civilians in Benghazi in March 2011. … We asked [former chief of defense staff] Lord Richards whether the object of British policy in Libya was civilian protection or regime change. He told us that ‘one thing morphed almost ineluctably into the other’ as the campaign developed its own momentum. … The UK’s intervention in Libya was reactive and did not comprise action in pursuit of a strategic objective. This meant that a limited intervention to protect civilians drifted into a policy of regime change by military means.”

Less destructive options were also ignored, the report found: “Saif Gaddafi is the second son of Muammar Gaddafi. He was a member of his father’s inner circle and exercised influence in Libya. … Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who knew the Gaddafi regime better than most Western politicians, confirmed that Saif Gaddafi was ‘the best, if not the only prospect’ of effecting political change in Libya.” But that opportunity was rebuffed as was the possibility of arranging Gaddafi’s surrender of power and exile, the report said, adding:

“It was therefore important to keep the lines of communication open. However, we saw no evidence that the then Prime Minister David Cameron attempted to exploit Mr Blair’s contacts. Mr Blair explained that both Mr Cameron and former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were aware that he was communicating with Muammar Gaddafi. We asked Mr Blair to describe Mr Cameron’s reaction to his conversations with Muammar Gaddafi. He told us that Mr Cameron ‘was merely listening’.

“Political options were available if the UK Government had adhered to the spirit of [U.N.] Resolution 1973, implemented its original campaign plan [to protect civilians] and influenced its coalition allies to pause military action when Benghazi was secured in March 2011. Political engagement might have delivered civilian protection, regime change and reform at lesser cost to the UK and to Libya.”

Spreading Disorder

There was also the consequence of the Libyan conflict, spreading disorder around the region because Libyan military stockpiles were plundered. The report said: “Libya purchased some £30 billion [or about $38 billion] of weapons and ammunition between 1969 and 2010. Many of those munitions were not issued to the Libyan Army and were instead stored in warehouses. After the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, some weapons and ammunition remained in Libya, where they fell into the hands of the militias. Other Libyan weapons and ammunition were trafficked across North and West Africa and the Middle East.

Boko Haram leader

Boko Haram leader

“The United Nations Panel of Experts appointed to examine the impact of Resolution 1973 identified the presence of ex-Libyan weapons in Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Gaza, Mali, Niger, Tunisia and Syria. The panel concluded that ‘arms originating from Libya have significantly reinforced the military capacity of terrorist groups operating in Algeria, Egypt, Mali and Tunisia.’ …

“The international community’s inability to secure weapons abandoned by the Gaddafi regime fuelled instability in Libya and enabled and increased terrorism across North and West Africa and the Middle East. The UK Government correctly identified the need to secure weapons immediately after the 2011 Libyan civil war, but it and its international partners took insufficient action to achieve that objective. However, it is probable that none of the states that intervened in Libya would have been prepared to commit the necessary military and political resources to secure stocks of weapons and ammunition. That consideration should have informed their calculation to intervene.”

Despite these findings, the Obama administration and its allies are considering an escalation of their military intervention in Syria, which already has involved arming and training jihadists who include Al Qaeda militants as well as supposedly “moderate” fighters, who have aligned themselves with Al Qaeda and handed over sophisticated American weaponry.

The U.S. military has spearheaded a bombing campaign against Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State, inside Syria. But the Obama administration sometimes has put its desire to oust Assad ahead of its supposed priority of fighting the Islamic State, such as when U.S. air power pulled back from bombing Islamic State militants in 2015 as they were overrunning Syrian army positions at the historic city of Palmyra.

Now, with Syria and its Russian ally resorting to intense bombing to root Al Qaeda and its allies, including some of those U.S.-armed “moderates,” from their strongholds in eastern Aleppo, there is a full-throated demand from the West, including virtually all major media outlets, to impose a “no-fly zone,” like the one that preceded the “regime change” in Libya.

While such interventions may “feel good” – and perhaps there’s a hunger to see Assad murdered like Gaddafi – there is little or no careful analysis about what is likely to follow.

The most likely outcome from a Syrian “regime change” is a victory by Al Qaeda and/or its erstwhile friends in the Islamic State. How that would make the lives of Syrians better is hard to fathom. More likely, the victorious jihadists would inflict a mass bloodletting on Christians, Alawites, Shiites, secular Sunnis and other “heretics,” with millions more fleeing as refugees.

Among the Western elites – in politics and media – no lessons apparently have been learned from the disaster in Iraq, nor from the new British report on the Libyan fiasco.

Posted in Libya0 Comments

Humanitarians for War: Language and the New Orientalists

NOVANEWS

Image result for GADDAFI PHOTO

By Alex Ray 

A UK House of Commons inquiry into the 2011 attack on Libya and the country’s subsequent collapse has found what many suspected: NATO and its Gulf Arab allies used their ‘Responsibility To Protect’ to launch their attack even though:

“… the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”

Though the MPs’ damning report blames Libya’s political and economic collapse on former Prime Minister David Cameron, the manipulation of public opinion to lay the basis for war is built upon longstanding – but now sharpened – processes and semantic structures that prepare populations to accept punitive action against a targeted ‘other’.

In an earlier example, on October 10 1990, a young Kuwaiti woman known as ‘Nayirah’ testified before the United States’ Congressional Human Rights Caucus that invading Iraqi soldiers had gone into hospitals and thrown babies from their incubators.

Nayirah turned out to be the daughter of the then Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington. Her testimony was false and prepared by a PR company. But it was solid gold for the US campaign to intervene militarily. Amnesty International provided influential support for Nayirah’s story. The ‘depravity’ of Saddam Hussein’s government was proffered by governments and mainstream media as a key reason for military intervention.

In March, 2011, Libyan opposition fighters and a Libyan psychologist, Dr Seham Sergewa told foreign media that pro-Qaddhafi fighters were being ordered to carry out viagra-fuelled mass rapes. The claim – spread by Al-Jazeera – was this time picked up by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Although Amnesty International questioned some of the claims this time, the rape story was one of many myths that contributed to the NATO bombardment of Libya – the beginning of the end of the Libyan state.

The ‘humanitarian’ battle cry of 2011 was another manifestation of neo-Orientalist rhetoric directed towards out-of-favour leaders or groups.

Edward Said’s “Orientalism” referred to Western stereotyping of Arabs and Arab culture through a colonial lens. Currently, Neo-Orientalism is typically based on sensational claims that target ‘others’ (leaders or groups) by depicting them as intrinsically alien, evil and irrational, in order to justify aggression against them.

Qaddhafi’s relationship with the West was full of moments that prepared us to unquestionably accept claims of his barbarity – to the extent that Hillary Clinton could mock his torture and murder by rebels.

Regardless of his positive and negative attributes, the language used to describe Qaddhafi – a son of peasant goat herders – was often insulting and unprofessional. Journalist and historian Gwynne Dyer for example: “

… resplendent in the gold brocade robes that he probably made from his mother’s curtains and wearing his usual bug-eye sunglasses… The world’s oldest teenager…”

The New York Times treated Qaddhafi’s international visits featuring his bedouin tent as a circus fit for New York’s Coney Island rather than an important cultural symbol of Libya’s or Qaddhafi’s heritage. One wonders whether anyone would dare attempt similar treatment of Australia’s Aboriginal Tent Embassy which has been a feature of the capital Canberra since 1972.

There were numerous stories of the ‘chauvinistic’ displays of Qaddhafi’s ‘Amazonian’ republican guard. However ‘Amazonian’ legends of powerful female bodyguards have a long history in North Africa and especially Libya. Greek mythology – the source of Amazonian legends – speaks of Queen Myrina the Amazonian queen who led military victories in Libya. Under Islam there was the wealthy and powerful King Musa I of Mali, who was protected by such an Amazonian troop while undertaking the Hajj in 1332. It seems not a single commentator bothered to note the antecedents of such symbolism before resorting to ridicule.

It is not only the media and politicians who join the neo-Orientalist derision of disagreeable leaders. Descriptions of Qaddhafi in Harvard professor and historian Roger Owen’s recent work The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life, exhibit shades of cultural superiority. After indulging in psychological speculation about Arab leaders, Owen (p.199) criticises Qaddhafi’s relationship with the African Union particularly his “bringing African heads of state to Libya and posturing before them in ‘African’ costumes of his own design with absurd-looking little round caps”.

Aside from Owen’s dismissal of the African Union, he sees no irony in ridiculing Qaddafi for doing exactly what the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries do at APEC and G20 meetings – put on ‘absurd’ cultural uniforms like the imagined Australian stockmen’s outfits worn by APEC leaders in Sydney in 2007:

John Howard and George W. Bush at APEC in Sydney 2007, Source: The Guardian

John Howard and George W. Bush at APEC in Sydney 2007, Source: The Guardian

Owen depicts Arab governments as wholly subject to the whims of a strongman leader. While the West – and sometimes Arab leaders themselves – like to portray authoritarian governments as ruled by maniacal and all-powerful men individually, this is rarely the case – especially in Libya as demonstrated by this Wikileaks cable showing disagreements amongst the Libyan leadership.

Such systems are far too complex to be overseen by one person. As Oxford Professor Richard Bosworth argues, in addition to clouding other factors involved in the operation of such states, judgemental and presumptive treatments such as Owen’s tend to dismiss leaders as mad and evil which prevents comprehensive understanding.

The terminology of ‘regimes’ and ‘governments’ is another rhetorical tool aimed at demonising chosen targets. ‘Regimes’ sound all controlling, mechanical and despotic while ‘governments’ sound rational, responsive and civil. But as academic Lisa Anderson has pointed out the term ‘regime’ is widely misused. A regime is the: “set of rules, or cultural or social norms that regulate the relations between ruled and rulers. Including how laws are made and administered and how the rulers are themselves selected”. As such regimes come in types, Totalitarian, Authoritarian, Democratic etc.

A ‘government’ on the other hand “comprises those incumbents and the policies associated with them”. Referring to the ‘Qaddhafi Regime’ or ‘Mubarak Regime’ is a problematic conflation of regime type, government and the actors involved in it. Applying the same conflation to Western governments would result in labels like ‘Obama regime’.

‘Orientals’ or just the non-compliant?

Neo-Orientalist language cannot be explained away as a reaction to brutality. If a leader’s brutality was the benchmark for engaging in this form of vitriol, it could be just as easily applied to every US President.

Rather the point of this type of language is to de-legitimise and de-humanise or barbarise a targeted ‘other’. Neo-Orientalist language has (mostly) retreated from typecasting entire civilisations – as this has become less acceptable among western audiences – and has retreated to depictions of individual leaders, sub-groups or sub-ideologies.

Those selected, most commonly for their ‘uncooperative’ international behaviour, are not worthy of engagement or understanding, simply of fear and loathing. The use of violence against such ‘irrational’ forces becomes legitimate and ‘just’.

The language of neo-Orientalism takes many guises, from the ‘war on terror’ to ‘humanitarian intervention’ and has been so successful in cloaking itself in ‘liberal’ values that it attracts support from across the political spectrum.

As Robert Irwin pointed out in his 2006 critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism, the expression of ‘Orientalist’ language does not need to be limited in time (to the European colonial period) or place (the Arab world). By seeking to solely link Orientalism to the European and American imperial ages Said confused and understated the breadth of his argument. Orientalism was not limited to ‘the Orient’, but was and is directed at other groups – both ethnic and political.

For example, western media treatment of Russian President Vladimir Putin also involves ridicule of both cultural symbolism and psychological state.

According to Vox News and Angela Merkel, Putin’s machismo is a cover for “personal insecurity as a weak leader” and is responsible for his “invasion of Ukraine”. We are also told Putin’s ‘machismo’ and ‘aggression’ is the cumulative embodiment of Russian shame and weakness. Merkel was quoted as saying “Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this [machismo].”

Without delving into to the possible objections to this account, why is Putin’s ‘aggressive’ behaviour seen as a unique flaw in individual and national character? What about the destruction that the United States wrought following the ‘injury’ to the American ego that was September 11? What about the UK’s war of indignation in the Falkland Islands? With the same logic and tone one could posit that the entire British colonial age was a result of ego issues within the ‘lonely little island in the North Sea’.

What of Hillary Clinton’s psychological state or the culture she embodies? Sold as the ‘normal’ presidential candidate, this is the woman who mocked Qaddhafi’s death with “We came, we saw, he died…” and seems to carry no baggage from the destruction of a country on almost entirely false pretences.

One persuasive critic of neo-Orientalism, Alastair Crooke, identifies it as a manifestation of a Western mindset of dominance in the present era.

… this is the new racialism… a hierarchy of civilisations in which the West sees its civilisation as the most appropriate one for the future… superior and the template that should be imposed on others…”

Status quo powers deploy much effort and money to explain their transgressions but most are based on the simple assumption that equal standards do not apply; we are ‘rational’ and ‘just’, they are not.

Posted in USA, Europe, Libya0 Comments

The Great Libya War Fraud

NOVANEWS

Media Lens

National newspapers were ‘unimpressed by Jeremy Corbyn’s victory’ in the Labour leadership election, Roy Greenslade noted in theGuardian, surprising no-one. Corbyn secured almost 62% of the 506,000 votes cast, up from the 59% share he won in 2015, ‘with virtually no press backing whatsoever’.

In reality, of course, Corbyn did not just lack press backing. He won in the face of more than one year of relentless corporate media campaigning to politically, ethically, professionally, psychologically and even sartorially discredit him. That Corbyn survived is impressive. That he won again, increased his vote-share, and took Labour Party membership from 200,000 to more than 500,000, is astonishing.

None of this moves journalists like the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, who commented: ‘there’s been no big new idea or vision this week that Labour can suddenly rally round’.

Polly Toynbee explained: ‘I and many Guardian colleagues can’t just get behind Corbyn’. Why? ‘Because Corbyn and McDonnell, burdened by their history, will never ever earn the trust of enough voters to make any plans happen.’

Toynbee fails to recognise the nature and scale of the problem. In supporting Corbyn, the public is attempting to shape a genuinely democratic choice out of the sham choices of corporate-owned politics. This awesome task begins with the public waking up to the anti-democratic role of the corporate media in defending, of course, corporate-owned politics. So-called ‘mainstream media’ are primarily conduits for power rather than information; they are political enforcers, not political communicators. To the extent that the public understands this, change is possible.

Supported by non-corporate, web-based media activism, Corbyn has already smoked out these media to an extent that is without precedent. Many people can see that he is a reasonable, compassionate, decent individual generating immense grassroots support. And they can see that all ‘mainstream’ media oppose him. It could hardly be more obvious that the corporate media speak as a single biased, elitist voice.

The Benghazi Massacre – No Real Evidence

The smearing of Corbyn fits well with the similarly uniform propaganda campaign taking the ‘threat’ of Iraqi ‘WMD’ seriously in 2002 and 2003. Then, also, the entire corporate media system assailed the public with a long litany of fraudulent claims. And then there was Libya.

Coming so soon after the incomplete but still damning exposure of the Iraq deception – with the bloodbath still warm – the media’s deep conformity and wilful gullibility on the 2011 Libyan war left even jaundiced observers aghast. It was clear that we were faced with a pathological system of propaganda on Perpetual War autopilot.

The pathology has been starkly exposed by a September 9 report into the war from the foreign affairs committee of the House of Commons. As with Iraq, this was no mere common-or-garden disaster; we are again discussing the destruction of an entire country. The report summarised:

The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.

The rationale for ‘intervention’, of course, was the alleged threat of a massacre by Gaddafi’s forces in Benghazi. The report commented:

The evidence base: our assessment

Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghaziwas not supported by the available evidence… Gaddafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians. More widely, Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year record of appalling human rights abusesdid not include large-scale attacks on Libyan civilians. (Our emphasis)

And:

Professor Joffé [Visiting Professor at King’s College London] told us that:

the rhetoric that was used was quite blood-curdling, but again there were past examples of the way in which Gaddafi would actually behave… The evidence is that he was well aware of the insecurity of parts of the country and of the unlikelihood that he could control them through sheer violence. Therefore, he would have been very careful in the actual response… the fear of the massacre of civilians was vastly overstated.’

Analyst and author Alison Pargeter agreed with Professor Joffé, concluding that there was no ‘real evidence at that time that Gaddafi was preparing to launch a massacre against his own civilians’. Related claims, that Gaddafi used African mercenaries, launched air strikes on civilians in Benghazi, and employed Viagra-fuelled mass rape as a weapon of war, were also invented.

These are astonishing comments. But according to the Lexis-Nexis media database, neither Professor Joffé nor Pargeter has been quoted by name in the press, with only the Express and Independent reporting that ‘available evidence’ had shown Gaddafi had no record of massacres; a different, less damning, point.

As disturbingly, the report noted:

We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya… It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime….

In other words, the UK government’s relentless insistence on the need to support freedom-loving rebels against a genocidal tyranny were invented ‘facts’ fixed around policy.

That the war was a crime is hardly in doubt. Lord Richards (Baron Richards of Herstmonceux), chief of the defence staff at the time of the conflict, told the BBC that Cameron asked him ‘how long it might take to depose, regime change, get rid of Gaddafi’. British historian Mark Curtis describes the significance:

Three weeks after Cameron assured parliament in March 2011 that the object of the intervention was not regime change, he signed a joint letter with President Obama and French President Sarkozy committing to “a future without Gaddafi”.

That these were policies were illegal is confirmed by Cameron himself. He told Parliament on 21 March 2011 that the UN resolution “explicitly does not provide legal authority for action to bring about Gaddafi’s removal from power by military means”.

Cameron, then, like Blair, is a war criminal.

The ‘Moral Glow’ From a ‘Triumphant End’

The foreign affairs committee’s report is awesomely embarrassing for the disciplined murmuration of corporate journalists who promoted war.

At a crucial time in February and March 2011, the Guardian published a long list of news reports boosting government propaganda and opinion pieces advocating ‘intervention’ on the basis of the West’s supposed ‘responsibility to protect’, or ‘R2P’. Guardiancolumnist, later comment editor (2014-2016), Jonathan Freedland, wrote an article titled: ‘Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong.’

Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor, wrote: ‘the scale and nature of the Gaddafi regime’s actions have impelled the UN’s “responsibility to protect”.’

Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London, wrotein the Guardian: ‘International law does not require the world to stand by and do nothing as civilians are massacred on the orders of Colonel Gaddafi…’

An Observer leader agreed: ‘The west can’t let Gaddafi destroy his people.’ And thus: ‘this particular tyranny will not be allowed to stand’.

No doubt with tongue firmly in Wodehousian cheek, as usual, Boris Johnson wrote in the Telegraph :

The cause is noble and right, and we are surely bound by our common humanity to help the people of Benghazi.

David Aaronovitch, already haunted by his warmongering on Iraq, wrote an article for The Times titled: ‘Go for a no-fly zone over Libya or regret it.’ He commented:

If Colonel Gaddafi is permitted to murder hundreds or thousands of his citizens from the air, and we stand by and let it happen, then our inaction will return to haunt us… We have a side here, let’s be on it. (Aaronovitch, ‘Go for a no-fly zone or regret it,’ The Times, February 24, 2011)

Later, a Guardian leader quietly celebrated:

But it can now reasonably be said that in narrow military terms it worked, and that politically there was some retrospective justification for its advocates as the crowds poured into the streets of Tripoli to welcome the rebel convoys earlier this week.

Simon Tisdall commented in the same newspaper: ‘The risky western intervention had worked. And Libya was liberated at last.’

An Observer editorial declared: ‘An honourable intervention. A hopeful future.’

The BBC’s Nick Robinson observed that Downing Street ‘will see this, I’m sure, as a triumphant end’. (BBC, News at Six, October 20, 2011) Robinson appeared to channel Churchill:

Libya was David Cameron’s first war. Col. Gaddafi his first foe. Today, his first real taste of military victory.

The BBC’s chief political correspondent, Norman Smith, declared that Cameron ‘must surely feel vindicated’. (BBC News online, October 21, 2011) In Washington, the BBC’s Ian Pannell surmised that Obama ‘is feeling that his foreign policy strategy has been vindicated – that his critics have been proven wrong’. (BBC News online, October 21, 2011)

The BBC’s John Humphrys asked: ‘What apart from a sort of moral glow… have we got out of it?’ (BBC Radio 4 Today, October 21, 2011)

Andrew Grice, political editor of the Independent, declared that Cameron had ‘proved the doubters wrong.’ Bitterly ironic then, even more so now, Grice added: ‘By calling Libya right, Mr Cameron invites a neat contrast with Tony Blair.’

An editorial in the Telegraph argued that Gaddafi’s death ‘vindicates the swift action of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy in halting the attack on Benghazi’. Telegraph columnist Matthew d’Ancona (now writing for the Guardian) agreed: ‘It is surely a matter for quiet national pride that an Arab Srebrenica was prevented by a coalition in which Britain played an important part…’

An Independent leader observed:

Concern was real enough that a Srebrenica-style massacre could unfold in Benghazi, and the UK Government was right to insist that we would not allow this.

The Times, of course, joined the corporate herd in affirming that without ‘intervention’, there ‘would have been a massacre in Benghazi on the scale of Srebrenica’. (Leading article, ‘Death of a dictator,’ The Times, October 21, 2011)

But even voices to the left of the ‘mainstream’ got Libya badly wrong. Most cringe-makingly, Professor Juan Cole declared:

The Libya intervention is legal and was necessary to prevent further massacres… If NATO needs me, I’m there.

Robert Fisk commented in the Independent that, had ‘Messrs Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama stopped short after they saved Benghazi’, disaster could have been avoided.

Ironically, in an article ostensibly challenging the warmongers’ hysterical claims, Mehdi Hasan wrote in the New Statesman:

The innocent people of Benghazi deserve protection from Gaddafi’s murderous wrath.

Even Noam Chomsky observed:

The no-fly zone prevented a likely massacre… (Chomsky, ‘Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance,’ Hamish Hamilton e-book, 2012, p.372)

To his credit, then Guardian columnist Seumas Milne (now Corbyn’s director of communications and strategy) was more sceptical.He wrote in October 2011:

But there is in fact no evidence – including from other rebel-held towns Gaddafi re-captured – to suggest he had either the capability or even the intention to carry out such an atrocity against an armed city of 700,000.

We were labelled ‘useful idiots’ for challenging these and other atrocity claims in a June 2011 media alert here, here and here.

Media Reaction to the Report

The media reaction to the MPs’ demolition of their case for war made just five years earlier inevitably included some ugly evasions. AGuardian editorial commented of Libya:

It is easy in retrospect to lump it in with Iraq as a foreign folly…

It is indeed easy ‘to lump it in’, it is near-identical in key respects. But as a major war crime, not a ‘folly’.

… and there are important parallels – not least the failure to plan for stabilisation and reconstruction.

The preferred media focus being, as usual, so-called ‘mistakes’, lack of planning; rather than the fact that both wars were launched on outrageous lies, ended in the destruction of entire countries, and were driven by greed for resources. With impressive audacity, the Guardian preferred to cling to deceptions exposed by the very report under review:

But it is also important to note differences between a gratuitous, proactive invasion and a response to a direct threat to the citizens of Benghazi, triggered by the spontaneous uprising of the Libyan people. Memories of Srebrenica spurred on decision-makers. (Our emphasis)

In fact, propagandistic use of Srebrenica from sources like the Guardian ‘spurred on decision-makers’. The whole point of the MPs’ report is that it found no ‘real evidence‘ for a massacre in Benghazi. Similarly, the Guardian’s ‘spontaneous uprising’ is a debunked version of events peddled by government officials and media allies in 2011, despite the fact that there is ‘no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya’. In fact, the MPs’ report makes a nonsense of theGuardian’s claims for a humanitarian motive, noting:

On 2 April 2011, Sidney Blumenthal, adviser and unofficial intelligence analyst to the then United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reported this conversation with French intelligence officers to the Secretary of State:

According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues:

a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,
b. Increase French influence in North Africa,
c. Improve his internal political situation in France,
d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,
e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.

The Guardian apologetic continued:

Perhaps most critically, western intervention – fronted by France and the UK, but powered by the US – came under a United Nations security council resolution for the protection of civilians, after the Arab League called for a no-fly zone.’

But this, again, is absurd because the resolution, UNSCR 1973, ‘neither explicitly authorised the deployment of ground forces nor addressed the questions of regime change’, as the MPs’ report noted. NATO had no more right to overthrow the Libyan government than the American and British governments had the right to invade Iraq.

In 2011, it was deeply disturbing to us that the barrage of political and media propaganda on Libya received far less challenge even than the earlier propaganda on Iraq. With Guardian and BBC ‘humanitarian interventionists’ leading the way, many people were misled on the need for ‘action’. In a House of Commons vote on March 21, 2011, 557 MPs voted for war with just 13 opposing. Two names stand out among the 13 opponents: Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

Predictably, last month’s exposure of the great Libya war fraud has done nothing to prompt corporate journalists to rethink their case for war in Syria – arguments based on similar claims from similar sources promoting similar ‘humanitarian intervention’. Indeed, as this alert was being completed, the Guardian published an opinion piece by former Labour foreign secretary David Owen, calling for ‘a no-fly zone (NFZ), with protected land corridors for humanitarian aid’ in Syria, because: ‘The humanitarian imperative is for the region to act and the world to help.’

In February 2003, the Guardian published a piece by the same David Owen titled: ‘Wage war in Iraq for the sake of peace in the Middle East.’ In 2011, Owen published an article in the Telegraph, titled: ‘We have proved in Libya that intervention can still work.’ He had himself ‘called for… intervention’ that February.

The Perpetual War machine rolls on.

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