by Waseem Shehzad (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 9, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1432)
The West has gotten rid of another pesky dictator with the execution-style killing of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi on 10-20-2011 in Sirte. There was much jubilation in Western capitals as news of Qaddafi’s killing spread.
The West has gotten rid of another pesky dictator with the execution-style killing of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi on 10-20-2011 in Sirte. There was much jubilation in Western capitals as news of Qaddafi’s killing spread. Despite claims by leaders of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and dutifully parroted by Western media outlets that there was “cross firing” during his capture that killed him, it is clear from video footage that he was captured alive even if he was wounded. He was seen walking after being dragged from a vehicle as heavily armed men repeatedly hit him. Then he was pulled to the ground, dragged and shot in the head. The autopsy report by Libyan doctors released on October 23 confirmed that he had died of gunshot wounds to the head. Pointedly, they failed to mention what kind of bullet(s) had killed him. This would have directly implicated the NTC fighters in a war crime.
A long-time dictator may be gone but what comes next may not be entirely what the Libyans bargained for. The NTC’s lack of control over the heavily armed groups that are pursuing their private agendas and vendettas was evident in the manner in which Qaddafi was killed. There are likely to be more such revenge killings of members of the old regime as well as of dark-skinned Libyans accused of being “mercenaries”. As Cynthia McKinney famously said during her visit to Tripoli in July as it was being bombed: “Where else would you find Africans if not in Africa?” Tribal rivalry leading to warfare is also a distinct possibility that would leave the country in chaos for decades while Western multinationals resume the plunder of Libyan oil and other resources. The country is awash in weapons and coupled with tribal divisions, it is a recipe for disaster. One of Qaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam managed to escape despite being wounded and he could potentially rally tribal loyalists to exact revenge.
NATO also cannot escape responsibility for the mayhem in Libya. Both in the attack on Qaddafi’s convoy as it tried to make a desperate attempt to escape from Sirte in the early morning of October 20 as well as the wanton destruction of Sirte, NATO has much to answer for. French planes and American Predator drones were involved in attacking the convoy killing at least 50 people among Qaddafi’s entourage before his capture. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Libya a day earlier and had publicly announced Qaddafi should be killed.
Sirte was besieged and bombarded for nearly a month. Even the BBC’s Wyre Davies was forced to admit before the city fell to anti-Qaddafi rebels: “This is almost a scorched earth policy. The pro-Gaddafi (sic) fighters defending this city won’t surrender, so Sirte is being systematically destroyed, block by block. Fighting is intense, incredibly destructive, and almost mind-numbing.” The British daily, The Telegraph described Sirte as a “squalid ruin” that is “reminiscent of the grimmest scenes from Grozny, towards the end of Russia’s bloody Chechen war.” Even hospitals were bombed and because of the blockade, food, water and medicines were prevented from entering the city to punish the civilians trapped there.
NATO launched its “humanitarian” war on Libya armed with a UN Security Council resolution that also had the backing of pro-Western Arabian dictators, supposedly to prevent the possibility of civilians being killed in one city, Benghazi. It resulted in the destruction of another — Sirte — with thousands of civilians likely killed and wounded.
French writer Bernard-Henri Lévy, who touts himself as a humanist-philosopher, has openly dismissed reports of Sirte’s destruction as “rumours of violent acts against civilians” and “inevitable blunders.” Lévy played a key role earlier this year in agitating for the war, in order, he insisted, “to protect the civilians of Misrata, Sirte, and Benghazi.” He personally organized the first meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and members of the NTC. France and Britain led the attacks on Libya. How many Libyan civilians have been killed in order to “save” them from Qaddafi is anybody guess.
Qaddafi’s real sin was not that he was a dictator or that he brutalized his people. Every tin pot dictator in the Muslim East has and continues to brutalize his people. Almost all of them are Western allies. What marked Qaddafi for the West’s “humanitarian” intervention were the policies he pursued at home as well as his role in the African continent. Qaddafi provided free education and medical care to his people as well as scholarships for Libyan students studying abroad. Also, he refused to join the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) in Switzerland that processes international transactions raking in billions (perhaps trillions) in fees. Thus, the Libyan Central Bank was outside Western control and Qaddafi refused to allow the West to dictate his monetary policies.
Qaddafi’s real sin was that he challenged Western hegemony on the African continent. As the Cameroonian writer, Jean-Paul Pougala has written, it was Qaddafi’s Libya that offered “all of Africa its first revolution in modern times: connecting the entire continent by telephone, television, radio broadcasting and several other technological applications such as telemedicine and distance teaching. And thanks to the WMAX radio bridge, a low cost connection was made available across the continent, including in rural areas.”
In 1992, 45 African countries established the Regional African Satellite Communication Organization (RASCOM) to reduce communication costs in the continent. The not-so-departing colonialists — France, Britain, Belgium, Holland et al — had established telephone systems in their colonies in such a way that phone calls to and from Africa were routed through the colonial master’s system making them the most expensive in the world. Europe charged an annual fee of $500 million for the use of its satellites like Intelsat for phone conversations, including those within the same country. Qaddafi put up $300 million toward the $400 million one-time cost of establishing Africa’s own satellite that was launched on 12-26-2007. China and Russia then helped with launching satellites for South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Algeria and a second African satellite was also launched in mid-2010.
This was Qaddafi’s first, albeit minor “sin” in challenging the West’s hegemony. His other sins were considered far too great and unforgivable. Qaddafi had earmarked $30 billion for three key projects in Africa: the African Investment Bank in Sirte; the now delayed creation and perhaps permanently sabotaged establishment of the African Monetary Fund to be based in Yaounde, capital of Cameroon with a US$42 billion capital fund; and the Abuja-based African Central Bank (ACB) in Nigeria. If the ACB were established and started printing money it would end the monopoly of CFA franc through which Paris has been able to maintain its hold on African countries for 50 years. Viewed against this backdrop, one can now begin to understand why Sarkozy would say that Qaddafi posed a threat to the global financial system. He had to be eliminated.
Sarkozy was not alone in this. US President Barack Obama froze $30 billion of the Libyan Central Bank’s assets deposited in US banks as Libyans staged protests across the country. Interestingly, no assets of the former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak or the Bahraini dictator Hamad bin Isa’s have been frozen. Qaddafi had earmarked the $30 billion as Libyan contribution to three key projects that would have added the finishing touches to the African federation. With the killing of Qaddafi, a clear message has been sent to other opponents of Western hegemony.
It has also once again opened Africa to Western penetration as well as to the establishment of USAFRICOM, a US force that African countries had resisted for so long. Even before Qaddafi’s killing, Obama had announced the dispatch of 100 US troops to Uganda to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). True, the LRA is made up of murderous thugs and rapists but they have been operating for 24 years. Why has Obama suddenly woken up to their crimes now? The US is on the verge of sending troops into Sudan and other African countries fulfilling the prophecy that an African-American president would launch wars in Africa without evoking the charge of racism. Africa is too important a continent to be left to the Africans.
Qaddafi’s execution-style killing has opened the way for the re-colonization not only of Libya but the entire African continent.