Before the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, calling for a “no fly zone” to be imposed over Libyan airspace, I was starting to feel the same as I did at the start of the military action against Iraq. A feeling of unease, of thinking that I had missed something.
Along with the rest of the world I had watched events unfold in Tunisia and Egypt with the feeling that there had to be consequences for other North African and Middle East countries that would change this region forever. It could be argued that change needed to happen and that violent protest was fully justified pursuant to realising such change.
Throughout the flow of human history exists a plethora of precedents to support the case for the use of violence in pursuit of peace and justice. Nonetheless I believe that all other avenues need to be fully explored and exhausted before violent uprising becomes the weapon of choice. However the morality of this is not what has been occupying my mind.
The feeling that I was missing something really took root when it became known that there were violent protests taking place in Yemen and Bahrain. Saudi Arabia had sent troops to Bahrain, as had Kuwait and the Emirates. Noises emerged from Jordan and Syrian armed forces were busy trying to contain a revolt of their own. It has been said the hand of Iran could be felt fanning the flames and, for once, Israel had been uncharacteristically silent. Until today, that is, when missiles rained down on Gaza in response to alleged aggression by the Palestinians against the Israelis. All of this while Iraq remains a war zone and the futility of our involvement in Afghanistan becomes increasingly apparent.
So here it is, where joining the dots reveals the outline or image of a very dangerous and unpredictable beast. A wounded beast becomes even more dangerous and we can’t tweak it’s tail without provoking a gouging pair of horns. We can’t kick one end without avoiding a retaliatory lashing out from the other.
Are we taking military action in support of liberating Libya or had the West already joined the dots and glimpsed the nature of the beast before the attack began? Have we become involved in Libya as a prelude to much wider action and if so where does it end.
The forces and weapons amassed against Libya seem to be disproportionate to the task at hand, a sledgehammer to swat a fly, unless there are other fishes to fry! I don’t believe that UNSC resolution 1973 would have been adopted had the demand for a “no fly zone” not been underwritten by the Arab League, the African Union and individual states throughout North Africa and the Gulf. When then are the Arab states going to step up to the plate with actions that might lend credence to their words?
Why are we interfering in Libya all the while ignoring the other injustices throughout the region? The hypocrisy is far more obvious than it is easy to understand. The tribal system that has coloured the complection of the region for centuries is complex and central to the way business is done, how political policy is formed and how old scores are settled. These ways are not our ways yet they are they no less valid than the way in which Western democracies conduct their own affairs. They are just different. The lessons learned from the “River Wars” of the late 1800’s seem to have been forgotten or overlooked. The cultural divide is, of itself, enough reason for suspicion and mistrust to thrive.
I am not trying to build a case for some kind of conspiracy theory but I am saying that there is much more at stake than currently meets the eye. I want to know what that is.
Our insatiable demand for oil is the motive of choice throughout the Middle East yet Libyan oil output can be easily replaced by the Saudi’s. We know little about the new successors of the oil wells, we know little of the political reality that will emerge if the dust ever settles. I don’t think that this is about oil at all, I don’t think it’s about supporting the uprising. The picture is far larger and more complex than this and the truth will take some time to emerge. Waiting for it to emerge and, while pondering over the dynamics of the current situation, I’m going to allow some room to examine far more basic motivations, anger and retribution.
Could the flames of war be fanned by the dark deeds of Colonial Gaddafi and a certain Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi? Gaddafi thumbed his nose at both the United States and the United Kingdom when Megrahi was reprieved and returned to Libia on humanitarian grounds. Upon his arrival he skipped down the gangway and pranced across the red carpet with the boundless energy of a new-born lamb! A hero’s welcome awaited him, his disabilities had been overcome and he was drawn to the warm embrace of his sponsor.
It would be helpful to acknowledge that, in this part of the world, the enemy of my enemy is my friend!