‘Hannibal in Defeat’ – will UN end hopes of an Arab Awakening?

“Will Libya become like Iraq — a land of broken wings?”

Morroccan workers from Libya turned away from Lampedusa

I wish to make an important distinction about boat people described in the reports that have been circulated on refugee email lists.

The full reports are Italy Blocks a refugee boat from Libya and No welcome for refugees as Italy turns boat away

The people fleeing Libya are described in the reports as “refugees” (i.e. Italy Blocks a refugee boat’ and ‘One refugee said’)

As many will realise, this is incorrect.

Firstly, the people are not fleeing their homeland – Libya is their place of work, not their home.

Secondly, these workers are not seeking refuge in another country – they are trying to return home to Egypt, Morocco, Algeria etc.

“According to Italian authorities, the ship left the Libyan port of Misurata where deadly fighting between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces continues in order to repatriate a contingent of Moroccan workers.” — EU Observer

There has been serious fighting in Misurata and this is the basis for rebels overnight asking for NATO to act on its resolution. I have viewed film of the fighting there and notice that the Libyan army did fire a tank round at rebels In Misurata who were equipped with rocket propelled grenades and machine guns. This is a military conflict.  The crafted words of Obama’s speech declare

“That all attacks against civilians must stop.  Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas.”

But what I have observed on the film from Misurata was military conflict between ermy and rebel.

I do understand the point behind the commentary on the email list the parallel of the words of the Italian interior minister with those of the Liberals leader, Tony Abbott the Berlusconi government in Italy is as mad as Abbott especially when the Italian interior minister, Roberto Maroni, is reported to have claimed: “We can’t know if there are terrorists aboard”. The opposition leader is bad but is the the Federal Labor government any better?

Events on Christmas Island in recent days (17-19 March 2011) have shown the government authorise the firing of stun grenades, tear gas and bean bag bullets at asylum seekers protesting on being locked up (sometimes) for 2 years or more. An asylum seeker had just committed suicide at a detention centre in the gulf in Queensalnd  so you could understand the concern of the other asylum seekers.

Back to the reports In the Observer and the Independent, I can’t understand why Moroccan workers would want to stop in Italy?

Surely they would want to see their families after months or even years working in Libya.

My skepticism is supported by “later reports suggesting that it (the Moroccan boat) had only sought to refuel.”

From these articles, sadly, we can see that some foreign workers, in their desperation to flee Libya, have died at sea.

These workers are likely to have been hired and exploited by foreign multinationals involved in the oil industry in Libya.

The very oil cartels that wish to get back control of the Libyan oil fields that Qaddafi nationalised.

The reason I make this distinction about the refugees is that last night Obama claimed in his speech [Our Goal is Focused, Our Cause is Just, and Our Coalition is Strong] that:

“Humanitarian assistance was positioned on Libya’s borders, and those displaced by the violence received our help.”

Where was the help for the Moroccan workers? Right wing politicians like French Front National party, Marine Le Pen, who is leading opinion polls ahead of presidential elections next year, have been converging on Lampedusa on Monday to tell migrants not to come to Europe.

Tunisians looking for a better life in Lampedusa

Lampedusa is a small island off the coast of Tunisia, once the home of a Sicilian Prince, Giuseppe Tomasi, who was famously depicted a feudal lord in Il Gatopardo (The Leopard) as saying: “Unless we (the feudal princes) ourselves take a hand now, they’ll (Garibaldi) foist a republic on us. If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

But now the Princes of Europe and the United States want to exclude the descendants of the Berbers of North Africa from their economic miracle.

Yet Obama crafted the words ‘humanitarian crisis’ as a basis for threatening to bomb Libya in order to get rid of the modern Berber, Colonel Qaddafi, a descendant of the most famous of all Berbers, the Carthaginian General, Hannibal.

Under Obama’s scheme workers from North Africa can be shuffled here and there by the oil cartels but not allowed taste the riches of Empire. The fact that some die in the attempt worries the Princes not a jot.

It will be the Libyan people who will suffer under the Obama scenario.

We should be careful not to confuse others in the way our politicians in Australia have tried to confuse us over Kosovo, Iraq and now Libya.

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, foreign troops are shooting protestors in the streets of Manama. Where are the UN air cover for the Bahraini protestors, where is the prevention, sanctions and calls for ceasefire against their Saudi allies in what amounts to an invasion and occupation of Bahrain at the invitation of the American puppet king?

Regardless of their success or otherwise to deliver a crushing defeat of Qaddafi and his army, the UN security councillors that voted for foreign intervention in Libya are lying hypocrites – US, UK, France, Italy and so on…

Two Africans on the plain of battle, one lives in a white house, the other a bedouin’s tent. In the world of public opinion, the berber is mad. The smooth American prince has crafted his words and the media narrative dutifully follows.

Only the act of burning Carthage remains … and the hopes of a generation lie in the desert like a bird with broken wings.

Ian Curr
19 March 2011

8 thoughts on “‘Hannibal in Defeat’ – will UN end hopes of an Arab Awakening?

  1. Ray Bergmann says:

    UN resolution goes far beyond no-fly zone to allow “all necessary measures” against Qaddafi.

    March 18, 2011

    The Libyan opposition, or at least those speaking for it, asked for a no-fly zone, for protection from the Qaddafi regime’s air force, to allow them to take on and defeat their dictatorship on their own terms. Many of us opposed that idea, for a host of reasons including the dangers of escalation and the threat of a new U.S. war in the Middle East. But whatever one thinks about that demand, the Security Council resolution went far beyond a no-fly zone. Instead, the United Nations has essentially declared war on Libya.

    [Note: Friday morning EDT, Libyan Foreign Minister Mousa Kusa announced a ceasefire. Early reports have not shown any change on the ground, and the ceasefire claim focused on preventing the division of the country rather than protecting civilians. But serious or not, the ceasefire claim should be tested, and answered with an immediate halt in U.S.-European-NATO war preparations. New diplomatic efforts should be launched under the auspices of regional governments and organizations, aimed at ending the Qaddafi regime’s brutal control and establishing real democracy in Libya. Answering a ceasefire declaration, even if not yet implemented, with a military escalation is the opposite of what is needed. What we need is both negotiations and accountability – not greater militarization.]

    Protecting Civilians or Ousting Qaddafi?

    While the UN resolution was taken in the name of protecting civilians, it authorizes a level of direct U.S., British, French, NATO and other international military intervention far beyond the “no-fly zone but no foreign intervention” that the rebels wanted. Its real goal, evident in the speeches that followed the Security Council’s March 17th evening vote, is to ensure that “Qaddafi must go,” — as so many ambassadors described it. Resolution 1973 is about regime change, to be carried by the Pentagon and NATO with Arab League approval, instead of by home-grown Libyan opposition.

    The resolution calls for a no-fly zone, as well as taking “all necessary measures… to protect civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.” The phrase “all necessary measures” is understood to include air strikes, ground, and naval strikes to supplement the call for a no-fly zone designed to keep Qaddafi’s air force out of the skies. The U.S. took credit for the escalation in military authority, with Ambassador Susan Rice as well as other Obama administration officials claiming their earlier hesitation on supporting the UN resolution was based on an understanding of the limitations of a no-fly zone in providing real protection to [in this case Libyan] civilians. It’s widely understood that a no-fly zone is most often the first step towards broader military engagement, so adding the UN license for unlimited military escalation was crucial to getting the U.S. on board. The “all necessary measures” language also appears to be the primary reason five Security Council members abstained on the resolution. For Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil, that phrase meant giving the Pentagon and NATO a blank check backed by UN legitimacy. Unfortunately, their unease was not strong enough to result in opposition to the resolution; the collective abstention of the five still allowed the resolution to pass with a ten-zero vote in favor.

    Some supporters of the resolution (which sadly included South Africa) insisted on explicitly excluding a “foreign occupation force.” But in the real world, that prohibition means little. Any U.S., British, or French troops arriving in Libya could easily be disguised as an “assistance team” or “training mission” or any of a host of well-honed diplomatic pseudonyms for what would otherwise be easily identified as foreign occupation forces. The language was designed to assuage regional and international concerns that the UN resolution threatened to turn the Libyan opposition’s struggle into a third US-NATO war in the Middle East.

    But in fact the UN resolution threatens exactly that. The resolution’s focus on immediate military engagement on behalf of the rebels (exactly what led to a deafening celebration in opposition-held Benghazi when the vote was announced) threatens to sideline the referral of the Qaddafi regime’s crimes to the International Criminal Court and other potential pressure points, in favor of escalating the militarization of the entire region and internationalizing the military battle. Imposition of a no-fly zone will not have any impact on the regime’s tank and artillery assaults currently underway, but it is likely to be the first international engagement. That means the first U.S. (or French or British, both of which are rumored to be trying to out-run the Pentagon as first to engage in Libya) military action will likely be bombing Libyan air defenses. If one of those U.S. or British or French planes is shot down, leading to a NATO pilot or bomber team ending up in Qaddafi’s custody, it’s a pretty good bet that special forces or other ground troops would quickly be deployed to rescue the captured airmen. Under those circumstances, the claim so often heard that this resolution “allows everything except boots on the ground,” will be quickly proven untrue. U.S. or other NATO boots on the ground may yet be in store for Libya.

    Dangers: dividing Libya, military stalemate, or…?

    There is a significant danger that the engagement of international military forces in what is shaping up as a civil war in Libya could result in a longer-term stalemate, perhaps based on the division of the country between the regime-controlled western sector, and the rebel-held east. In fact, the text of the UN resolution seems to anticipate the likelihood that international military involvement will go on for a long time. It calls on governments participating in the military attacks in Libya to keep the UN secretary-general informed of their actions, and asks the SG to “report to the Council within 7 days and every month thereafter” on implementation of the resolution. That is not how you describe a short-term effort to help end an urgent crisis.

    There continues to be breathtaking hypocrisy from the U.S. and its allies in responding to the disparate Arab movements. The U.S. demanded not only that the Arab League endorse any authorization to use force in Libya, but also that Arab countries agree to actually participate in any UN-authorized or NATO-led military action. Apparently at least two governments from Arab Gulf states have agreed. Qatar is one of them. The other likely one is United Arab Emirates, who along with Saudi Arabia, just sent hundreds of troops into democracy-shaken Bahrain, to help the king there keep his monarchy’s hold on absolute power. The U.S., fearful of losing Bahrain’s strategic port as home for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has yet to condemn the foreign troops imported to Bahrain to suppress the democracy protesters. So far, the Obama administration’s only response to the soldiers pouring into Bahrain has been to urge the heavily armed foreign troops to support dialogue between the Bahraini people and their discredited king.

    Learning from history

    Thirty years ago the U.S. decision to arm and strengthen Saddam Hussein’s weaker Iraqi side against the stronger Iranian side kept the Iran-Iraq War going, U.S. war profiteers wealthy, and young Iranians and Iraqis dying, far longer than might otherwise have been the case. Soon after, the U.S. bribed and threatened Security Council members to get most of them to endorse a U.S. war against Iraq. Then in 1991 George Bush used a false humanitarian claim to justify imposing a “U.S.- UK only” no-fly zone in already war-ravaged Iraq, without even bothering going to the UN..

    Today is not quite 1991, and Libya is not quite Iraq. The decision made in the Security Council yesterday may not lead to a third U.S. war in the Middle East. It may not even lead to a long military stalemate or a permanent division of Libyan territory. But the new resolution brings all those dangers closer.

    The Libyan opposition, or at least much of it, has made a legitimate demand for international support; for all the right humanitarian reasons, many people in many parts of the world have supported their right to some kind of support. Governments, however, are not people, and do not make strategic decisions for humanitarian reasons. Governments do not use scarce resources and most especially do not deploy military force, to achieve humanitarian goals. So the cold strategic calculations of powerful governments cannot be viewed as a legitimate response to the humanitarian needs of Libya’s people or the humanitarian impulses of international civil society.

    The Libyan opposition faced – and faces – a brutal regime willing to risk international opprobrium to escalate military force against its population. One wishes that there was a global, civil society-based protection force, perhaps modeled on the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War, capable of responding and providing serious protection to civilians facing such an assault. But such a force does not yet exist. One might wish that regional neighbors such as Tunisia and especially Egypt, where new governments struggle to gain and keep the support of their newly empowered populations, were willing and able to provide sufficient military assistance to Libya’s democratic forces, putting their military power, now at least partly under popular control, at the disposal of the regional democratic movement rising across the Arab world.

    There may be new, not yet thought of ways of providing real solidarity to desperate movements, that do not threaten the authenticity and independence of the Libyan – and other – branches of these expanding Arab democratic revolutions. But yesterday’s UN resolution is not the way. The UN Charter calls for ending the scourge of war, not globalizing it.

    Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and author of “Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s UN”.

  2. Thanks Ray,

    There appears to be a group of intellectuals (including some Americans like Richard Falk and Phyllis Bennis) starting to speak out about US designs on Libya.

    Of course people like Robert Fisk who lives in Lebanon still have their finger on the pulse with articles like “America’s Secret Plan to Arm Libya’s Rebels – Obama asks Saudis to airlift weapons into Benghazi”

    I had a quick look at the book “Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s UN” by Phyllis Bennis.

    Her final caution about US control of the UN was:

    “Being the richest and most powerful nation in the world does not give the U.S. the right to trample international law, to run endgames around the UN, to use or discard the global organization at the whim of superpower arrogance or caprice of domestic politics.
    At the turn of the twenty-first century, the world has had enough of empires writing their own rules.”

    in solidarity

  3. Ray Bergmann says:

    And Take a look at http://www.votegeorgegalloway.com/
    George Galloway on Sky News on Libya
    More protesters have been gunned down in Yemen than in Libya. We’re standing by watching the dictators in Yemen and Bahrain gun down their people but for the Libyan dictator that we brought in from the cold we prepare to invade his country. Expend British lives to put one people in power over another? No thanks!

  4. Ray Bergmann says:

    More from Galloway at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/12/conversation-libya-intervention-george-galloway

    … there are circumstances in which the international community can and sometimes must intervene, and there must be very strict guidelines about that. First, it must be lawful. Second, the intervention should be regional – there is no case for Nato being involved on the north African coast. Thirdly, it must do more good than harm.

    … We have had in the past couple of days the ludicrous idea that Saudi Arabia might intervene in the Libyan revolution, having just announced that political activity of any kind is illegal in Saudi Arabia! Look, I’m not a dove in these matters, and never confuse me with a liberal. What I’m against is western countries with the mud of colonialism still on their boots becoming involved.

    … This is where we run into trouble! You can’t utilise the armed forces of dictatorships against another dictatorship in the name of democracy.

    … If Saudi Arabia fires on protesters there will not be many Tory MPs calling for a no-fly zone in Saudi Arabia. But if we begin we talk about Kashmir, where 100,000 people have died, or the Congo, there are no demands for foreign intervention in these places.

  5. Ray Bergmann says:

    Several people have been injured after police fired rubber bullets at anti-government protesters in Saudi Arabia’s eastern region of Qatif as Friday’s million-man-march looms.

    On Thursday, over 4,000 protesters thronged the streets in the eastern city of Qatif and clamoured for political reforms and the release of political prisoners, reports said.

    According to witness accounts, police forces fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse the crowd, leaving several people injured, while more rallies were held in solidarity with the people of Bahrain in the city.

    Demonstrators also called for an end to military incursion in Bahrain, after Riyadh dispatched at least 1,000 troops to the Persian Gulf country to help quell protests there.


  6. Yemeni regime disintegrating, protests in Syria and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Royal family weakened by its shooting of its own people.

    Demonstrations are growing in Syria against the al-Assad regime. There have been large demonstrations in Hauran and Daraa in southern Syria in the past few days.

    Sources (Ray Bergmann has given some below) confirm that demonstrations have broken out in Saudi Arabia – daily protests of a few hundred to a few thousand people occurred in and around Qatif from 15 to 18 March,calling for the release of prisoners and for the Peninsula Shield Force (Saudi invasion) to be withdrawn from Bahrain, where it was sent against the 2011 Bahraini protests.

    If opposition grows In Saudi Arabia then the deck of cards starts to fall and the US becomes isolated.

    The opposition in Sana’a (Yemen) has grown strong, overcoming the thugs sent to shoot them.

    As with the Egyptian demonstrations this has caused military defections from the regime to the protestors.

    The US and its coalition—UK, France…Australia(sic) have miscalculated – they have become stretched and by using client regimes like Saudi and Bahrain to shoot at unarmed demonstrators has stirred a greater revolt.

    Their savagery confronted has emboldened the people — as the revolt continues to spread, nothing can contain it.

    Ian Curr
    21 March 2011

    Sources: America’s Secret Plan To Arm Libya’s Rebels

  7. Ray Bergmann says:

    If the deck of cards does fall in the Arabian Gulf then NATO will secure their oil and gas supply needs from Libya instead. Eastern Libya alone has reserves to secure Western domination of the world for another quarter century at least.

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