Mena Revolution and Counter-Revolution
EDITORIAL, 18 April 2011
by Johan Galtung, 18 Apr 2011 - TRANSCEND Media Service
Chandra Muzaffar, in his superb JUST Commentary for March 2011, argues for Gaddafi to step down, and adds that if he so does he may be remembered “for some of his outstanding accomplishments in the first decades of his rule – accomplishments such as the closure of the huge American air base in Libya in 1970; his nationalization of oil; the pivotal role he played in the reorganization of OPEC which enabled it to emerge as a powerful cartel challenging Western dominance over the oil industry; his massive man-made river project to irrigate desert land; his housing schemes for the low-income segment of society; and other infra-structure programmes.” All absent from mainstream media.
Add to this his role on shaping the Arab League, thwarted by the US-backed Trojan horse–sticking to Greek history like NATO does with its operation “Odysseus Dawn”, very long-lasting as Paul Scott points out–of the Gulf king-, sheikh-, emir-doms (like Nasser he got rid of one of those). Add his role in progressing from African Unity to African Union when he turned south rather than east. And you have why the West, not only the USA, hated him from the very beginning. But then he became a victim of his own success; a despot, a dictator, seeing himself as indispensable.
The Arab revolt of this Arab spring has five characteristics: it is anti-autocratic, anti-cleptocratic, anti-imperialist, for youth, for women. Gaddafi’s profile is mixed; but not -5 like Mubarak or -4 like Ben Ali (Bourguiba had made Tunisia a forerunner in the Arab-Muslim world on gender). Not -5 like for the Saudi Royal House and the Bahraini and Yemeni leadership. Macro history moves slowly. Nasser and Gaddafi set the course; nobody would expect them to succeed immediately. They will both be remembered when the present Western dwarfs are forgotten.
Enters the counter-revolution, planned long ago. The CIA set up the “National Front for the Salvation of Libya”, NFSL, in 1981, followed by the “Libyan National Army”; today known as the Benghazi rebels. On November 2, 2010 the Anglo-French agreement to attack Libya no later than January 30, 2011 was signed; for the first time since the attack on Egypt in October 1956. In all likelihood the attack on Libya is equally ill-fated. We sense already that Obama is distancing himself from the French-led attack; gluing some of the imperial role on a France that exacted a high price for rejoining NATO. Is Sarkozy, le petit Napoléon, hoping to take over as USA gets increasingly bankrupt, already servicing debt with 41 cents of every federal dollar spent? Well, we’ll soon see – but NATO is still under US command and the EU is still unable to formulate a joint, independent policy.
The West sacrificed dispensable figures like Ben-Ali and Mubarak, and then used Libya to create a humanitarian emergency of their own making. Who kills more civilians, with cluster bombs or depleted uranium, or what not, remains to be seen. But in cities reconquered by Gaddafi no massacre has taken place so far, as Stephen M. Walt points out in Foreign Policy (“Is America Addicted to War? The Top 5 Reasons Why We Keep Getting Into Foolish Fights”). Not like US troops, boots and guns, from house to house.
The alliance mobilized by the deeply Christian-Zionist Hillary Clinton to fight Gaddafi got Yes from 10 out of 15 UNSC members while half of humanity-BRIC+Germany-opted for abstention, neither against saving civilians; nor for selective humanitarianism. In the Arab League only 11 of 22 members voted, 9 in favor and Syria-Algeria against (Syria may be the next US target). Only Qatar and UAE participate militarily; Qatar displaying its usual ambiguity, UAE its totally unambiguous pro-US attitude.
NATO. Its first African invasion, after several in Asia.
No attack, no common enemy, no discussion, no vote, no consensus. An example of democracy, transparency? Germany and Turkey are opposed and refuse any combat role; Turkey involved in complex mediation with the prime minister specializing in Gaddafi and the foreign minister in Benghazi. Gaddafi seems to have wanted to switch from Western oil companies to Russian, Indian and Chinese companies like Saddam Hussein moved from dollars to euros. Benghazi says that when they have won, oil contracts will be awarded to those who helped them. Little Norway, a state that once had an oil company, Stat-Oil and now has an oil company that has a state, or so it seems, eagerly persuading other countries to buy their formulas, not do develop their own like Norway once did; now at war with four Muslim countries, Obama with six, 51 to go.
Africa. The key to the whole exercise: in 1956 still mainly owned by Anglo-France, Libya becoming an Italian colony in 1911; posing threats of union, independence and ties to China. NATO wants to control it through AFRICOM and EUCOM–three different words for Pentagon–and this is where Libya enters; rejecting AFRICOM with Sudan, Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire (and Sahraoui). No US bases–hence countries to be subdued.
The Libya action may put Africa on fire. Listen to Turkey and Africans mediating: Libya democratizing and Gaddafi stepping down to an honorary position, staying in the country. Of course Benghazi has rejected that, like the islamophobic NATO secretary general wanting Gaddafi for the International Criminal Court.
There has been nonviolence, but not Gandhian nonviolence. Gandhi did not paint in black and white but searched for the positive, engaging in constructive action, dialogue, compromise. This nonviolence has a bad Pentagon “color revolution” taste.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 3.0 United States License.