Good Tyrants and Bad – Western responses to the Jasmine Revolution

When the crowds in Tahrir Square Cairo toppled the pro-Washington dictator Mubarak it was perhaps the most important event in the Middle East in the last 200 years. An amalgamation of  different groups had taken to the streets demanding free and fair elections. In the west we were told that we could not have this as the “Muslim Brotherhood” would take over Egypt and turn the whole country in some kind of Sunni fanatic state. Turns out it was a lie, and the lack of support by the major western powers and self declared ‘defenders of democracy’ was telling. The US was not prepared to support democratic protesters in Egypt because an independent Egypt would demand a Palestinian state.

Since the overthrow of the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia copycat revolutions have taken place in Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Morocco, Jordan and Libya. The protesters in Bahrain were executed by a foreign mercenary army and received no support from the west. Protesters in Yemen were executed in their hundreds by government soldiers and again, not a single protest from a single western leader. Morocco barely even got a minute of news coverage here. During all these three revolutions our Foreign Minister and Prime Minister did not make a single announcement of support for the protesters.

When the crackpot regime of Ghaddafi started to implode the west first tried to ensure BP’s oil wells were going to be able to operate but when it became clear that this was not going to be the case. The US, using France and Britain as its minions went to the UN and created resolution 1973. Rudd and Gillard were both cheering to use force to support the protesters.

“The resolution demands “an immediate ceasefire” and authorizes the international community to establish a no-fly zone over Libya and to use all means necessary short of foreign occupation to protect civilians”

While anyone in their right mind understands that civilian casualties are abhorrent, how on earth are they to be achieved by the very means that killed one million Iraqi civilians over 10 years, a No-Fly-Zone? Now several months in to what has now become a protracted civil war it appears that resolution 1973 may have actual increased the level of civilian casualties. The rebels dig themselves in in civilian cities (Misrata) and fight out their battles with government forces in full knowledge that they are creating a blood bath. When this happens in Gaza, it is called using ‘Human Shields’ by our media.

So far in the Libyan civil war (yes thats what it is) we have seen NATO take an obvious partisan position where it will not force direct unconditional talks between the belligerents and instead actively arms people who fought against the US recently in Iraq. Is it creating another Somalia? Afghanistan? If it continues with its current strategy I cannot see any other outcome except a failed state on the shores of Europe.

Libya needs to be resolved, and to do that Ghaddafi has to rescind power. How that is done is the main thing. If NATO want him gone, the best way to do it is to violate their own resolution and send forces in to Tripoli and remove him. This will cost less civilian lives than taking sides in a war of attrition. So far the rebels have shown less inclination to negotiate than Ghaddafi, this is a serious problem and shows that we may have fanatics leading both sides.


2 responses to “Good Tyrants and Bad – Western responses to the Jasmine Revolution

  1. I think the emergence of a ‘failed state’ in Libya is actually very much in the interest of the US. Democracy in the arab world, mealy mouthed statements to the contrary, is most definitely NOT what the US wants. If given a voice, the arab world will very quickly tell the US to fuck off out of there. Which it’s obviously not prepared to do. In effect, we have the domino effect theory again with Libya as a fairly significant domino.

    Actually, two likely outcomes – ongoing conflict and anarchy, or emergence of a new bully state that will deal directly with the US in return for past favours – are preferrable from the US point of view than a true “democracy”, whatever that means. A capitalist kleptocracy, aka Western democracy, on the other hand, would be fine, but unfortunately in the arab world, this still needs to be imposed from above.

    Even though the likelihood of an ongoing conflict scenario would seem to deny the “US war for oil” thesis, this is probably not the case. Oil can be extracted and exported under conditions of instability, look at Nigeria. And it’s about CONTROL of the oil anyway, not so much extraction. Sure they can’t have it, but noone else can have it either.

    I’m not seeing too much about who the Libyan rebel forces are to be honest, although no doubt that there are all sorts of interests in there, currently united against the common enemy. If and when Gadaffi falls, there will no doubt be jockeying for position, with the US doing it’s darndest to pick and back a winner. As history has shown, this will no doubt add to the woes of the people it is “helping” and create a legacy of resentment, instability and violence. Here we go again.

  2. Agree with the oil extraction while in a state of war and this may have been the real reason for the NFZ. The main oil wells are in and around the Brega area and are now pretty much devoid of Ghaddafi’s forces. Securing them to a level that is sufficient to resume pumping will not require much force and is probably the main goal of the ‘military advisers’ already deployed to that region.

    From what I am reading the rebels are a wildly diverse bunch but the large majority belong to a one particular tribe that was fond of the former king. I am sure there are many pro-democracy advocates and progressives within the ranks. But the tribal theory would explain why a conscript army did not dissolve if the revolution was so widely supported, they simply didn’t belong to that tribe.

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