Category Archives: Libya

No Compassion For Refugees Please, We’re British

“Charity begins at home” at least this is what Britain’s “no refugees here” types have been saying on comments threads on The Guardian and Independent websites. Ironically (or perhaps not), these are the very same people who would not only claim that “people are receiving to much in social security payments”, they would also tell you that the existence of foodbanks proves there is a “food shortage” in this country. Logic? It was never there in the first place.

Many people like to think of The Guardian and The Independent as liberal newspapers with socially liberal readerships. In the case of The Indy, this notion was blown out of the water by the paper’s support for the Tories at the last election and in the case of The Graun, there has been a steady rightward drift in its editorial orientation for years. Sadly, however, the change in direction for these papers has also attracted legions of right-wing racists and keyboard warriors, all of whom have been drawn to the stories of what is now being called the “Refugee Crisis” (formerly the “Migrant Crisis”), a crisis that was entirely created by the actions of the so-called West.

Yet the idea that there is a cause behind the Refugee Crisis is barely mentioned by the tabloid hacks and their pals in Parliament. Instead, in the mind of the knuckledragger, these people are coming here variously for “economic reasons” or the “presence of McDonalds and KFC”, or some such nonsense, and not because they are fleeing the conflicts and tyrannies that the West has created and sustained for decades. Causality, as far as these people are concerned, is a hospital drama on BBC1.

Readers, I have been disgusted by the lack of compassion shown by these keyboard warriors and slackwits but I have been even more disgusted by The Indy’s and The Graun’s tolerance of the vile hatred that’s being openly expressed on its comments threads. If I want to read that kind of shite, I can always go to St*rmfr*nt. Dig?

I always remember reading about this country’s hostile reaction towards the thousands of Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s. This article by Anne Karpf from 2002 – in The Guardian – recalls that those years.

The parallels between past and present are striking. Just as the majority of Jewish refugees were admitted less for compassionate reasons than to meet the shortage of domestic servants, so today’s refugees tend to do the low-paid catering and cleaning jobs spurned by the native British. And just as in spring 1940, when German Jews were interned on the Isle of Man, British newspapers blurred the distinctions between refugee, alien and enemy, so today, according to Alasdair Mackenzie, coordinator of Asylum Aid, “There’s general confusion in many newspapers between an asylum seeker and someone from abroad – everyone gets tarred with the same brush.”

Hostility towards the refugees was stirred up by the virulently anti-immigration rag The Daily (Hate) Mail. Many people internalised its xenophobic and anti-Semitic messages and demanded the government refuse to land any refugees. Déjà Vu? Malheureusement, oui.

The comment below appeared on this Guardian article by the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas. Her name, alone, is enough the get hordes of slavering knuckledraggers thumping their chests and declaring themselves the defenders of “common sense”.

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Britons would probably be far more receptive to the idea of allowing many more refugees into Britain had the country not experience almost two decades of mass immigration in which over five million people had entered Britain.

Here, we have a comment in which the views expressed are little different to those expressed by UKIP’ Nigel Farage (or that Nuttall wanker) on a weekly basis. Although it avoids offensive language and isn’t obvious in its racism, its premise is based on the notion that there has been an “invasion”. Yet, this commenter offers no proof for the numbers they’re using; they are seemingly axiomatic.

On the other hand, this commenter doesn’t disguise his hatred. This is what passes for wit.

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So it turns out now that the guy who recklessly ended up drowning his wife and children had turned down asylum.

Oh.

Sickening.

The government’s response to the crisis has been characteristically Tory: blame “people smugglers” and keep repeating the word “criminals”. It’s as if the refugees themselves have become secondary to the need to punish “those responsible for the trafficking”. In April, in response to refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, Michael ‘Polly’ Portillo, the son of a Spanish republican refugee who fled Franco’s dictatorship, said they should be “sent back where they came from” – and should be “dumped on a Libyan beach”. And you thought he’d been rehabilitated? No way, he’s the same as he ever was.

This nation has been governed by bullies for centuries and people have internalised the bullying to such an extent that they, themselves, have become bullies. This is evident from the lack of compassion shown to refugees. The idea that “charity begins at home” is noble one but one which is now being used dishonestly to bolster the fash’s absurd claim that this country is “full up”.

A few days ago, Cameron appeared on television to give an account of his sluggish response to the crisis. He told the reporter with a straight face that the solution is to “bring peace in Middle East”. But that’s after he’s bombed it back to the Stone Age first.

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Mali: we’ve seen this movie before (reprise)

Map of Mali showing the Azawad region

Already the Mali adventure looks like the opener for something nasty. Today, the Independent reports that “alleged Islamists” (described as “Jihadists” by the BBC’s Frank Gardner) have taken 41 people, all of them foreign workers, hostage at a remote gas plant on the Algerian-Libyan border. 2 people have been killed, one of them a Briton, the other a Frenchman.

This caught my eye,

Reports suggested that the raiders spoke Arabic with “strong Libyan  accents”. A group called the Katibat Moulathamine, or “Masked Brigade”, told Mauritanian radio the attack was a “punishment” for Algeria’s decision to permit French warplanes to use its airspace to attack Malian rebels.

In neighbouring Mauritania there have been ongoing protests, none of them have been reported in Western mainstream media, while Syria, Egypt and Tunisia receive more than ample coverage. Mauritania has seen a massive influx of refugees from Mali.

In the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring” similar things were predicted for “sub-Saharan” (a term I absolutely detest) Africa. From al-Arabiya,

There was eventually no “African Spring”. But Sub-Saharan Africa is not impervious to change. Sporadic protest movements there still could turn into clamoring for radical overhaul of current systems, if living conditions do not improve. Recent events have also shown that the Sahara is not an impenetrable wall. It could not prevent the destabilization of Mali after Tuareg fighters flocked back home following the collapse of the Gadhafi regime.

But this article should be approached with caution, because it was written by Oussama Romdhani, a former Tunisian Communications Minister and “Fulbright scholar”.

It was reported in most of the mainstream media that French troops would engage in direct combat with the insurgents.

Last April, The Christian Science Monitor reported,

This year, Mali‘s restive Tuareg minority has erupted into rebellion after four years of relative quiet, the army has mutinied and seized control of the capital city of Bamako, and today Tuareg separatists declared an independent republic in the country’s vast north.

And asked,

Is this all NATO‘s fault?

Not exactly. But the law of unintended consequences is (as usual) rearing its head. In this case, the successful popular uprising against Muammar Qaddafi‘s regime inLibya, which was substantially aided by the air power of NATO members, has sent Mali tumbling back into chaos, something that neither France nor the US (two of the major backers of the war to oust Qaddafi) are happy about. Far from it.

They call it blowback.

I found this interesting article from The Guardian. It’s dated 28 December, 2010. It poses the question, “Mali: whose land is it anyway”?

Mali is one of the countries most affected by the scramble for land, and Ségou, the country’s rice basket, is at the eye of the storm, with buyers from Senegal, South Africa, China, as well as domestic companies snapping up leases on thousands of hectares. This is land already intensively used in a country with one of the highest population growth rates in the world and where 80% of the people depend on farming for their livelihood.

People are being forced off their land by foreign investors. If this doesn’t sound like a new scramble for Africa, I don’t know what does.

French troops were apparently invited into Mali by that country’s government. But we need to remember that France still pulls many strings in its former colonies. To view this as a war against Islamist insurgents is a massive oversimplification of a complicated situation. It also ignores the ongoing global food crisis, which was partly responsible, along with neoliberalism, for the so-called “Arab Spring”.

The Tuareg people, who inhabit  Northern Mali have been neglected by the government and it is this region that has been singled out for French bombardment. Coincidence?

The pale-skinned Tuaregs, who inhabit northern Mali, have long complained of neglect and disrimination by the government dominated by southerns in far-off Bamako.

In February, Mr Kader says attacks increased against Tuareg in Bamako and the nearby garrison town of Kati.

“People started attacking anything Tuareg: They burnt houses, cars and attacked anyone with white skin – even Arabs,” he says.

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad or MNLA is made up of Taureg, many of whom fought for the Libyan Army during the 2011 Civil War. It is they who are being linked to al-Qaeda by the Malian government. The MNLA declared independence from the rest of Mali.  That gets left out of the current narrative in order to advance the spurious argument that this is an “Islamist insurgency”. Al-Qaeda is often used as a handy catch-all term for any Arab or Muslim who demands rights or autonomy – especially if their demands don’t intersect with the free market dogma of the neoliberal West. There probably once was an al-Qaeda, but these days it sounds more like a brand name that almost anyone can use.

Oil, gold and uranium. There’s a lot of it in the region, as Globalresearch.ca points out (I urge you to read the article),

Whatever is reported by the mainstream media, the goal of this new war is no other than stripping yet another country of its natural resources by securing the access of international corporations to do it.  What is being done now in Mali through bombs and bullets is being done to Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain by means of debt enslavement.

Finally, I found this rather hilarious blog by Paul Cotterill on Liberal Conspiracy. It’s classic left-baiting stuff.

But if the anti-war left is going to get serious about anti-imperialism/promoting the long-term advisability of stopping these continued interventions – we can be sure enough there’ll be another one along in the non-too-distant future – it had better start by getting serious about its analysis.

I bet he believes in “liberal intervention”.

POSTSCRIPT

I found this interesting article on Huffington Post, dated 27/9/11.

In the mid 1990s Gaddafi moved to quell the very Tuareg insurgencies he had once promised to support. A decade later he awarded Libyan citizenship to diehard Tuareg rebels who rejected the negotiated peace settlement in Niger and enlisted many of them in the Libyan army. It is among the Tuareg, according to Frederic Deycard and Yvan Guichaoua, that Gaddafi is likely to have secured troops to defend his crumbling regime.

Deycard and Guichaoua estimate that pro-Gaddafi elements recruited roughly 1,500 Tuaregs from Mali and Niger, most of who were already resident in Libya, over the course of the six-month conflict. In short they comprise a tiny fraction of the Libyan armed forces. To put this number in perspective, at the beginning of the conflict Gaddafi’s army was estimated to be 76,000 strong. Defection and death have greatly reduced this number, but attrition has also been high among foreign combatants, both African and non-African.

 

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Libya. Confused? So am I

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. Still free.

They say that the first casualty of war is the truth. The war in Libya is no exception. Since the bombing began in February, we have been treated to all sorts of rumour, speculation and innuendo. First, we were told that the no-fly zone imposed by NATO was to prevent Gaddafi from launching air strikes against his own people. We heard the same thing in the 1990’s in the days of the Iraq no-fly zone. Civilians were killed and tanks, which can’t fly, were destroyed. Civilians have been killed in this war too. But as long as we get our hands on the oil, who cares? You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Right?

Then, some members of the SAS or SBS or whoever they were, were captured by the rebels after we had been told that there were no “British boots on the ground”. Later we were told by the MOD that there were British ‘mentors’ and ‘advisors’ in Libya. In pre-1965 Vietnam, the US stuffed the country with ‘advisors’. But they weren’t advisors at all; they were actively involved in combat operations and also helped to facilitate the coup that ousted Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963.

Then, about a month ago, were informed that top rebel general, Abdel Fatah Younis, had been assassinated. The finger of blame was immediately pointed in the direction of Daddy Gaddafi. It turned out that the general had been killed by gunmen on his ‘own side’ and that the National Transitional Council and all the rebel forces are far from united in their efforts to topple Gaddafi.

In the last couple of days, Tripoli was reported to be moments away from collapse and that rebel forces had entered the Libyan capital. Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam and Mohammed had apparently been captured with the former being in the custody of the International Criminal Court. Last night, Saif al-Islam appeared on television to urge his supporters to fight on. The two South African air force planes on the tarmac of Tripoli airport weren’t there to fly Daddy Gaddafi to Zimbabwe or Angola as the commentators had speculated. In fact, no one really knew why they were there but the ‘experts’ still offered an ill-informed expert opinion nonetheless. Daddy Gaddafi remains in charge and doesn’t look as though he’s going anywhere in a hurry. Some of the rebels who apparently entered Tripoli withdrew overnight. Why? Well, not even Chatham House knows the answer to that question.

The war is over? It doesn’t look like it.

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Hague – there won’t be any boots on the ground…

…except for the ones that are being worn by the ‘military advisors’.  The dispatching of ‘advisors’ is often a prelude to a full-scale war. In the late 1950’s, the US sent advisors to what was then Saigon before the escalation of the Vietnam War in 1965. Truth be told, the US provided more than just “advisors”, there was a sizeable military presence in Vietnam before 1965. Indeed my father was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in 1963.  So when people tell me that the Vietnam War started in 1965, I know better.

This conflict began with so-called “no fly zones”, which are also precursors to a full-blown war. I do find it odd, that within this “no fly zone”,  Libyan ground forces are being attacked.  I mean, when was the last time you saw a flying tank or a flying howitzer?

We were told that “regime change” was not part of plan in Libya but it seems as though this has been the intention all along. The UN Security Council resolution that authorized the “no fly zones” did not call for regime change but you can bet your bottom dollar that that’s the plan. Scameron wants it.  Sokrazy wants it. Even Obomba wants it.  Although the public has been told that this “isn’t about oil”, the fact of the matter is that it is about oil. The last time anyone said “this isn’t about oil” was in the run up to the Iraq invasion and guess what? It was about oil. Blair and Bush lied.

So when William Hague tells us that there aren’t any boots on the ground. He’s a liar. There are  boots on the ground and there will be more of them.

UPDATE: 2/2/12 @1942

Well, it seems that there were special forces boots on Libya soil as well as those of the very special advisors. I wonder, could there have been more of them? Boots, I mean. Possibly. Anything’s possible.

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Humanitarian interventionism? Geniune or sham?

Another timely blog from Adam Curtis. Like Iraq, the military intervention in and over Libya is portrayed as a “good conflict” that is taking place under the aegis of “humanitarian intervention”. The truth is much more nuanced. I understand Curtis’s latest series is due to go on air either later this month or sometime next month.

GOODIES AND BADDIES

The idea of “humanitarian intervention” which is behind the decision to attack in Libya is one of the central beliefs of our age.

It divides people. Some see it as a noble, disinterested use of Western power. Others see it as a smokescreen for a latter-day liberal imperialism.

I want to tell the story of how this idea originated and how it has grown up to possess the minds of a generation of liberal men and women in Europe and America.

It is the story of a generation who became disenchanted with traditional power politics. They thought they could leap over the old corrupt structures of power and connect directly with the innocent victims of war around the world.

It was a grand utopian project that began in the mid-60s in Africa and flourished and spread across the world. But in the 1990s it became corrupted by the very thing it was supposed to have transcended – western power politics.

And the idea seemed to have died in horror in a bombing of a hotel in Baghdad in 2003.

What we now see is the return of that dream in a ghostly, half-hearted form – where the confidence and hopes have been replaced by a nervous anxiety.

Read on

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It’ll be over by Christmas…

One question remains: where did all these Senoussi flags come from?

…is what they said when the First World War started in August 1914. The war lasted 4 years and cost millions of lives. It was also a boom time for arms manufacturers, who made money from both sides of the conflict. This was also the war that saw the birth of the public relations industry. Air power was also in its infancy. There weren’t any “No Fly Zones” or anything like them.

Fast forward to the present day and similar themes emerge. Many of the right-leaning newspapers in this country have printed headlines that have read “Over in weeks”. The same happened in the case of the Iraq invasion. The truth of the matter is that the so-called coalition of nations that are presently involved in the bombing of Libya have entered into a conflict that has no end in sight nor is there a coherent end strategy. And this is always the problem when nations embark on military action: the nations involved are fond of portraying this variously as having the potential for being a short conflict or ushering in a new era of ‘democracy’. They will conduct the war as though it was a remote control c0nflict (110 cruise missiles were launched on Day 1 alone). We should be in no doubt that the No Fly Zone that has been declared is the precursor to something nastier. The No Fly Zones over Iraq were merely the opening shots for the full-scale invasion that took place on a false premise. It was a ‘phony war’. The current Libyan NFZ can arguably be read in similar terms.

The US, UK and all of the NATO countries that have been involved in Afghanistan, entered into that war with one eye shut. Not being great students of history, they wilfully ignored the writing on the wall. The war is now 10 years old and there seems to be no end in sight. It is only the arms industry and the defence contractors (mercenaries) who have really gained anything from the conflict.

Libya presents a similar problem. The Gaddafi regime is intractable and will not give in without a bloody fight. The coalition of the short-sighted has clearly bitten off more than it can chew.

The ever astute Robert Fisk warns us about the West’s support for Arab dictators and the mess we could get ourselves into.

Whatever you think of George Galloway, he pretty much nails it in this interview on Sky. The interviewer is a Grade A plank.

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Libya – here we go again

While protesters were being shot at by Bahrain’s security forces, the West ignored this in a rush to enforce what it described a “no fly zone” in Libya. When I saw the news footage from BBC News (to my shame), I was struck with a sense of deja vu.

In 2002, we were told by our political leaders that Saddam was a “tyrant” and that he “killed his own people”. Fast forward to 2011 and we see the same things and hear the same half-truths, only this time, the names have changed. This time Gaddafi is a “Mad Dog” who “kills his own people”.

Unlike Yemen and Djibouti, Libya has oil. Bahrain has oil too, but the pro-Western dictatorship remains intact, so the oppression can carry on. There has been much talk about the “rule of law” and how we must “protect innocent civilians”. It seems to me that the UK, US, France and the other warmongering nations are somewhat selective in their use of military assistance to ‘protect’ people from tyranny.

The situation in Libya began with a rebellion, which then morphed into a civil war, now the West has taken it upon itself to take sides in the conflict. There have also been rebellions and uprising throughout Africa and the Middle East yet, there was no talk of military intervention – even when civilians were being killed. The West has been watching events nervously since the first protesters took to the streets in Tunis and then Cairo. There had been much hand-wringing and mealy-mouthed words of support for the protesters but little else.

There is a very good blog from Socialist Unity here

Al Jazeera has a good article about Western overzealousness here.

In yesterday’s Telegraph, warmongering Moonie, Nile Gardiner, whose headline screams “David Cameron’s War: the Empire Strikes back at ‘Mad Dog Gaddafi” said,

There is no doubt that David Cameron’s stock as a world leader has soared since the start of the Libya crisis, in marked contrast to that of the American president. But his decision to invest military resources in a Libyan campaign carries with it significant risks, and must only be undertaken as part of a broader strategy to rebuild British military power. The British lion has roared, but must also be strong enough to go in for the kill.

Notice how he manages to praise Cameron and have a pop at Obama at the same time. Cheap stuff. So this is Cameron’s ‘good war’? There is no such thing as a good war. Like Blair, Cameron is looking for his place in history but if, like Iraq, this goes badly for him, he will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

I saw Hon Gideon on the Andrew Marr Show this morning and while he is cutting public services, he talked how he was going to spend more on Britain’s military. So they can find the money for killing people abroad but not on things that improve people’s lives in this country? Typical topsy turvy neoliberal nonsense.

Last month, Cameron was hawking weapons around Egypt and the Middle East. Those weapons, like those supplied to Libya, will be used to kill protesters. Oh, the irony.

Meanwhile in Bahrain

Meanwhile in Yemen

Meanwhile in Senegal

Good article by Robert Fisk here

I am not a fan of the Colonel but I know hypocrisy and double standards when I see them.

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