THERE was the usual Western arrogance when British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the removal of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 as a ‘tragedy so far’ for the people of Libya during his visit to the once thriving North African country a fortnight ago.
Johnson forgot to tell the media that the troubles now afflicting Libya were caused by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)’s senseless annihilation of that country, primarily for oil and looting of money from the huge reserves that Col Gaddafi had built for his country.
Britain was one of the countries that fiercely pushed for the brutal murder of Col Gaddafi who was slain on October 20 2011.
Since the demise of the much loved Libyan leader, Libya has been in one crisis after another as the North African nation struggles to emerge from NATO destruction.
The West, in particular Europe, has also been feeling the effects of their ill-informed actions with millions of migrants breaking the buffer zone that Col Gaddafi provided for them via the Mediterranean Sea.
The Mediterranean Sea is now a free passage to Europe for many migrants.
Johnson told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Radio 4’s Today programme after his two-day visit that ‘we were way over-optimistic’ about Libya’s future when they made the decision to kill Gaddafi.
“A secure and stable Libya, better able to deal with the threat from terrorism and the challenge of migration, is firmly in the UK interests,” Johnson said.
Having led his country through 40 years of unprecedented prosperity that saw Libya growing into one of the world’s biggest economies, trouble began in early 2011 when Western countries put in motion a plan to oust Gaddafi from power.
The principle movers behind regime change in Libya were France, which was still under the shamed Nicolas Sarkozy, and Britain, with the usual partner in crime the US in tow.
As was the case with Iraq in 2001, the global powerhouses successfully accosted the UN Security Council into adopting a resolution to enforce a No Fly Zone (NFZ) over Libya.
They lied that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction only to make an about turn after they had murdered the Iraq leader and looted his country dry.
In Libya, they lied that Gaddafi’s forces were on the brink of committing a massacre of Libyans in Benghazi.
On September 12 2016, the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee issued a report which revealed the real reasons for the West’s intervention in Libya.
The Committee’s chairman said:
“The UK’s actions in Libya were part of an ill-conceived intervention, the results of which are still playing out today. Other political options were available.”
A Centre for Middle East Policy 2016 report highlights the extent to which the NATO bombs have caused untold suffering to the once thriving Libya.
“Today, Libya is a patchwork of city-states and regions controlled by armed militias, warlords, city councils and tribal networks. Crime is rampant as law and order in the country has broken down. Libya’s oil exports have declined by around 90 percent, and the economy is in ruins, leading to widespread destitution. More than 5 000 people have been killed in clashes between various militias and almost half a million people have been made homeless.”
According to an April 16 2016 report by the Canadian Dimension, the real reasons France was actively involved in the Gaddafi onslaught was because of the oil in Libya.
There were five reasons for France’s illegal war with NATO against Libya. Sarkozy sought, according to Blumenthal:
l A desire to gain a greater share of Libyan oil production,
l Increase French influence in North Africa,
l Improve his internal situation in France,
l Provide the French military with an opportunity to assert its position in the world,
l Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long-term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.”
Leaked e-mails belonging to losing US presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, also reveal that the Americans were interested in Libyan oil.
Today the once thriving oil industry in Libya is virtually non-existent with rival militia groups, fronting for Western powers, looting the commodity dry .
“The e-mail to Clinton is confirmed by the results of studies that began to appear after the invasion of Libya, organised by France with US support. Major oil reserves of the country were the main reason for intervention. Dictators lead many African countries, but the West is in no hurry to intervene in each of them. The Obama administration, from the beginning, was guided by rather naive misconceptions on the actions that needed to be taken to resolve the situation in Libya after the war,” said Russian Television (RT) political analyst Ariel Ben Solomon last year.
The report goes on, highlighting the economic and humanitarian crises affecting that country:
“One-third of the population of Libya has fled to Tunisia. Libya’s cumulative GDP losses since 2011 are estimated at US$200 billion. In June 2016 a UN official told the Security Council that around 435 000 civilians had taken shelter in schools and other public buildings. The humanitarian situation in the country is alarming. Libya has become a haven for human trafficking, with thousands of refugees being smuggled to Italy in rickety boats. Several thousands of them have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to escape from the country. Large quantities of weapons from Gaddafi’s arsenal have found their way to Mali, Niger and the Central African Republic, creating instability in those countries. Libyan arms and fighters have also flowed to Syria, through Turkey, in large numbers.
Neighbouring countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria have closed their borders with Libya. Most countries, including India, have closed their embassies in the country and evacuated their nationals due to safety concerns.”
At the time of his ousting, Gaddafi was helping Africa to become a more independent continent, free from the influence of imperialism.
He was pushing for the establishment of a united Africa under what he called the United States of Africa.
In the eyes of the West, the pursuit of that project was an assault on their aspirations as that would bring to a halt their looting of the continent and their divisive politics.
In fact, in August 2011, when NATO bombs were raining on Libya, former US President Barack Obama confiscated US$30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of the African International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Central Bank (ACB).
A March 9 2016 report by The African Exponent brings some insights into Gaddafi’s proposed programme:
“Colonel Gaddafi pushed for the creation of the United States of Africa at the 2000 African Union Summit in Lome, Togo. He went on to provide financial incentives to encourage agreement with his ideas. In another world, this would be bribery but in Gaddafi’s world, it was flawless politicking. The Wall Street Journal reports that the strongman at one point bankrolled African Union expenses by providing at least 15% of the African Union membership fees and helping nations in arrears like Malawi clear their balances. He then presented the USA idea in June 2007 in Conakry, Guinea, and then again in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February 2009.”
Western politics has always revolved around obfuscating Africa’s developmental programme.
The US State Department last year published a series of e-mails that reveal the volume of Gaddafi’s gold reserves.
According to the documents, the reserves are so great that they could become the basis for creating a pan-African currency, which, in turn, could compete with the dollar in the region.
Today, Africa is struggling to finance its programmes with President Robert Mugabe having to donate US$1 million to the African Union in July this year.
President Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe have been targeted by the West over their Land Reform and Resettlement Programme and the ongoing Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment drive.
At one time, Britain, then under Tony Blair, contemplated invading Zimbabwe but was rebuffed by former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki and British top army generals.
“The problem was, we were speaking from different positions,” said President Mbeki, in an interview with Al Jazeera in November 2013.
“There were other people saying: ‘Yes indeed there are political problems, economic problems. The best way to solve them is regime change. So Mugabe must go’. This was the difference. So they said ‘Mugabe must go’. But we said ‘Mugabe is part of the solution to this problem’.”
President Mbeki recalled an interview given by Lord Guthrie, who was Chief of the Defence Staff and Britain’s most senior soldier throughout Blair’s first Government.
In 2007, Lord Guthrie disclosed that ‘people were always trying to get me to look at toppling President Mugabe by force.
Said President Mbeki:
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“There is a retired chief of the British armed forces and [he] said that he had to withstand pressure from the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, who was saying to the chief of the British armed forces, ‘you must work out a military plan so we can physically remove Robert Mugabe’.
We knew that, because we had come under the same pressure and that we need to co-operate in some scheme — it was a regime change scheme — even to the point of using military force, and we said ‘no’.
You are coming from London. You don’t like Robert Mugabe for whatever reason — people in London don’t like him — and we are going to remove him and we are going to put someone else in his place? Why does it become British responsibility to decide who leads the people of Zimbabwe?”
What emerges from the President Mbeki interview is that the so-called change is not for the good of the people of Africa or Zimbabwe but is driven by the West whose desires are to loot resources.
The revelations of the damage caused to Libya are even more damning.
“It is clear to everyone what is now happening in Libya: total destruction, people fleeing their homes, mass hunger. Our country has descended into total darkness and our people are enduring suffering,” Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, the cousin to late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, told RT News in an exclusive interview in February this year.
“On this anniversary of the Arab Spring, we must demand an apology to all Libyans – those whose homes were destroyed, those who were humiliated. On their behalf, I demand that the UN Security Council and the leading world powers apologise for what happened in 2011.”
Even the biased British media could not hide the shame of the NATO damage.
On October 22 2015, The Guardian published a compelling report on the current state of affairs in Libya.
“You cannot simply launch an attack on a country without any knowledge of the mindset or character of its inhabitants. You can destroy every tank and combat aircraft in its arsenal, wipe out its entire strategic networks, but if you don’t know what kind of people you’re dealing with, you are merely opening a Pandora’s box and every idle peace operation embarked on later is doomed only to throw fuel on the fire.
After civil war, pillaging, settling of scores, mass rape and destruction on a massive scale, each ethnic group has withdrawn to its own territory and demands autonomy. The bastion Gaddafi built is crumbling. Libyan unity is now no more than an old story, a fairy-tale no one believes in.
Each militia, each religious community, each ethnic group rebels against the other, every region is a minefield. And into this advanced decomposition, other deathly winds are blowing: Islamic State the sirocco of the north; and al-Qaida, the southerly harmattan sweeping up from Niger and Mali.”
With Libya struggling to emerge from the doldrums, it is high time Africa revisits Gaddafi’s United States of Africa project.