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Libya: Who’s Right And Who’s Wrong? – OpEd


Things are getting more complex in war-trodden Libya as the devastating, erosive clashes between the revolutionary forces and the mercenaries of Muammar Gaddafi continue.


The massive military intervention of foreign countries including the NATO coalition forces, Jordan, Qatar, UAE and Sweden has added to the complicatedness of the situation in the North African country.

The most important developments concerning the Libyan civil war include the imposition of an arms embargo by the United Nations on Libya and the issuance of an arrest warrant for Gaddafi by the International Criminal Court. The UN Security Council also passed a resolution and froze the assets of Gaddafi and 10 members of his inner circle including his four sons who are among the most influential and affluent figures of Libya and the most prominent aides of their father.

However, journalists, academicians, political scientists and public intellectuals have so far failed to reach a consensus over the crisis in Libya and several conflicting ideas have been proposed with regards to the unsolved dilemma of the country.

Different interpretations of the Libyan crisis have been put forward since the beginning of the popular uprising in the country which was primarily seen as a continuation of the Arab Spring that put an end to the decades-long dictatorship of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and brought to the brink of dissolution the dictatorial governments of Yemen and Bahrain. In the other words, it was believed at the outset that the upheaval in Libya was inspired by the revolutions of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain; however, now six months after the beginning of protests against the dictatorship of Gaddafi, the country is engulfed in a destructive war which doesn’t seem to be ending in near future and has become dramatically different from what took place in the rest of Arab countries.

There are a group of Western thinkers such as Gordon Duff, Stephen Lendman and Francis Boyle who believe that the US-led war in Libya against the forces loyal to Gaddafi is a war for oil, exactly like what happened in Iraq in 2003. They say that the United States, through its propaganda machinery, convinced the American public that it was necessary to launch a military campaign against Iraq because Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. The US mainstream media intentionally concealed the fact that it was the United States and its European allies who equipped Saddam Hussein with such weapons during the 8-year war with Iran and thus respectfully fooled their own citizens about the reality behind the war which was aimed at dominating the immense oil resources of Iraq. Now, the United States and NATO forces are doing the same about Libya and have launched their military campaign to take over the invaluable oil resources of Libya. It is said that Libya owns the world’s ninth largest proven oil reserves, constituting 3.38 percent of the world’s total proven oil reserves. These thinkers say that what Gaddafi forces are doing is an act of self-defense against the rebels who have taken over a great deal of military equipments and weapons with the assistance of the West.


However, there are others who believe that the NATO-directed forces that have established and enacted a no-fly zone over Libya’s airspace in conformity with the UNSC resolution 1973 are not genuinely intended to depose Gaddafi and even have had clandestine and furtive affairs with him. Actually, these thinkers believe that Gaddafi is not an all-out anti-Western ruler who opposes relations and transactions with the West. They say that Gaddafi’s hard-hitting and stringent anti-Western rhetoric was drastically softened over the past years and he moved toward a policy of détente and reconciliation with the United States and European countries. One of the most remarkable elements in furthering this policy of rapprochement is Gaddafi’s second son, Saif al-Islam, who has close relations with the Western media and appears on BBC, CNN, Le Figaro, Boston Globe and other Western mainstream media outlets on a regular basis.

Saif al-Islam has held several meetings with Western leaders and politicians over the past years, indicating the dramatic transformation of Libya’s foreign policy with regards to the US and its European allies. Now, Muammar Gaddafi is not that fervent and ardent anti-Western leader who wants to become the king of kings of Africa and lead an international coalition against the US and European states.

Despite the sanctions which the US has unilaterally imposed against Libya and given the UNSC sanctions which prevented the UN member states from selling weaponry to Libya, Saif al-Islam, in 2007, met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Tripoli with whom it is alleged he helped broker an arms deal, including missiles.

In November 2008, Saif made a high-profile visit to the United States where he met with then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. During the meeting, the two sides discussed various issues and Rice raised the case of Libya’s jailed political dissident and democracy activist, Fathi El-Jahmi.

According to some political analysts, as soon as Libya started to renormalize its ties with the Western world, it began to derive benefits from its relations with the United States and EU. In 2005, the United States Department of State removed Libya’s name from its list of State Sponsors of Terrorism which is designed to show the intensity of hostility between the United States and independent nations such as Cuba, Sudan and Syria.

In 2009, the UK-based branch of Hizb-ut-Tahrir issued a press release, condemning the Western countries including Britain, the US and Italy for supporting Gaddafi and his despotic government. In one part of their statement, they intelligently pointed out to the fact that Western governments are keen to embrace Gaddafi and develop close ties with him, “Despite this track record of despotic rule, Western leaders like Brown, Obama and Berlusconi are only too keen to embrace the Libyan dictator in his tent with open arms and provide him with political legitimacy. Many in Western capitals see Libya as a country rich in resources, a country that has three percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, a country which Western politicians and Western multinationals like British Petroleum, Shell and ExxonMobil are queuing to access.”

“The West’s embrace of dictators like Gaddafi exposes the real face of capitalist foreign policy – supporting dictators and despots in the Muslim world whose sole policy is to oppress, torture and kill political opponents, whilst ranting on about democracy at home,” the statement added.

Now, everything seems to be in a great mess. On the one hand, the US, France and Italy have sent representatives to hold talks with the men of Gaddafi to ensure him that he will not be prosecuted or forced out of country should he hand over power to the transitional council peacefully. On the other hand, the NATO-led forces are continuing their air-strikes on the unarmed civilians of Libya on a daily basis, killing innocent people with brutality while troops loyal to Gaddafi are doing the same and killing the innocent civilians and revolutionary forces. Also, we are witnessing the double standards of the West regarding Libya’s crisis.

Who is really taking the side of the truth and honesty in this turmoil? Who is really right and who is wrong? This is something which only history can tell.

Kourosh Ziabari

Kourosh Ziabari is an award-winning Iranian journalist, writer and media correspondent.

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