Libya and Bahrain - Iftekhar A Khan - Monday, April 04, 2011

Eight years after the Iraq invasion of March 2003, the armed forces of the US, Britain and France launched an attack on Libya. As usual, US-led military aggression against the oil-rich Muslim state is as humanitarian as the ones intended to free the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein and to emancipate Afghan women from Taliban oppression. Before the invasion of Libya, the envoys of five Arab countries, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and the UAE, attended a meeting in Paris to approve the use of military force in Libya. Qatar did one better, by sending its air force jets to be part of the invasion. Regime-change through military aggression is nothing new; we’ve been there before.

What’s new is that the first black president in the White House has invaded Africa, the continent to which he traces his lineage. After Saddam Hussein was sent to the gallows and replaced with Maliki in Iraq, after the Taliban government was thrown out and one under Karzai was installed in Afghanistan, Moammar Qaddafi is the candidate for change. And Mahmoud Jebril is the likely new man to head the interim transitional government in Libya. He has been in the US for many years and all that he now needs is a Karzai-style green cloak to be in business.

It’s believed that French intelligence initially fomented the uprising in Libya followed by agents of Britain’s MI6 who, according to the Daily Mail, phoned Libyan generals to defect or face targeted assassinations. And imagine the celerity with which 90 percent of 544 British MPs have voted in favour of invading Libya when 53 percent of the British people surveyed have opposed the intervention. Not to mention that demonstration by two million Britons in 2003 against the imminent Iraq invasion, a protest which failed to have any impact on official British policy. It speaks of a disconnect between what Western people want and how their governments act, and in their name. Some democracy there!

Nato has taken over control of the war in Libya. An alliance of 28 countries now, Nato was established in 1949 when its first secretary general, Lord Ismay, stated that the organisation’s aim was to “keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” The organisation was to serve as a means of mutual defence against outside threats. Not long after that, Nato’s posture not only changed from one of defence to offence, but the organisation was also placed on call for the top Western superpower. It’s now commanded by US Admiral James Stavrids.

And the UN is nothing more than a handy tool that Western powers manipulate to acquire resolutions to suit their global interests. As the imperialist powers have made it a habit to invade sovereign states in the name of human rights or some such pretence, the UN is never found wanting in the provision of timely sanction to them. Doesn’t the United Nations’ approval of a no-fly zone over Libya amount to its declaration of war on a member-country?

Nevertheless, Muslim leaders understand that behind the altruism of the West is the scramble for oil and other energy resources in their countries. And they rather not get ideas. In an allusion to them, French president Nicholas Sarkozy has warned: “Every ruler should understand, especially Arab rulers, that the reaction of the international community and Europe from this moment on [following the attack on Libya] will be the same each time.”

But aren’t US-Nato double standards starkly evident when we compare Western positions on Libya and Bahrain? While the imperialist powers support the uprising in Libya, they oppose the protests in the Persian Gulf emirate of Bahrain. Bahrain, where Sunni emirs have ruled for more than two centuries, faces an uprising mostly by the Shiites, who are 70 percent of the population. The hostility of the protesters against the ruling elite is not directed so much against the emir, however, as it is against his slimy uncle, Khalifa ibn Salman al-Khalifa, who has ruled the city-state as prime minister ever since it became independent in 1971.

Saudi Arabia has troops stationed in Bahrain, because it believes that the uprising there is instigated by Iran, which is the only Muslim country in the turbulent region where people are living with honour and dignity under their selfless leadership.

It appears that Muslim blood, cheap as it is, will continue to be spilled, whether the population of the country in question is Shiite or Sunnis, or even if the victims are liberal or agnostic, for that matter.

The writer is a freelance contributor based in Lahore. Email:

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