Thursday, September 01, 2011

'The Aristocracy of Mercy' in Libya

‘The aristocracy of mercy’

Thursday, 01 September 2011 02:00
Zimbabwe Herald

All the time they were reporting on the turmoil in Egypt, they were careful not to vilify Mubarak but they do vilify Gaddafi. Why? That is significant." This was said by a writer who preferred to be identified as Correspondent. I highlighted some of what he said on this column when the Libyan crisis started in March.

Days after the so-called battle for Tripoli; after Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's compound in the Libyan capital was bombarded by National Transitional Council rebels; with reports that Gaddafi's whereabouts are unknown, and the NTC relocating its headquarters from Benghazi to Tripoli as a government in waiting, the following Reuters report on August 30 reveals the nature of the war for Libya's soul:

"Libya's largest oil terminal has been damaged during fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, oil workers and witnesses said.

"A Reuters witness saw flames and black smoke spurting from a tank at the Es-Sider oil terminal, which loaded an average of about 450 000 barrels of oil per day, before the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi began in February . . . A damaged tank at the Brega export terminal was also still spewing flames and black smoke on Monday."

It is one of many such reports, which reveal not only the complexities of the Libyan war, but that Africa in its failure to invest in information resources makes it rely on information created and disseminated by those with vested interests in its internal affairs. Even if it is massive misinformation and disinformation!

For the Libyan war is more than guns, bombs and bunkers. It is an information war that proves that those who cook up propaganda stuff that is appealing and that sells will have an upper hand. What former World Bank supremo Graham Hancock calls "the aristocracy of mercy"!

In the past six months, we have been bombarded left, right and centre with images, commentaries from all corners of the world to just prove that the NATO alliance was the most beautiful thing that Africa needed in order to deal with its internal problems.

Unfortunately, Africa is always found wanting in the information arena. Right now, we all think that Gaddafi is the man they are after, when it is clear that the approach is to create a new African Union with handpicked leaders - sellouts!

When it started in Tunisia, it was very difficult to predict how the uprisings in North Africa and other parts of the Arab world would turn out. Now Christened the Arab spring, it had its sexy accompaniments - social networks with Facebook and Twitter taking centre stage in uprisings that some in the media have called revolutions.

The irony is the "massive hand holding" the uprisings have had, and from none other than the West (the United States, Britain and France). This is very evident when analysing the footprints from Tunisia, then Egypt and finally Libya. Even the vocabulary mutates with such rapidity, and all you can say is that either globalisation (the Tower of Babel) is with us or that things have fallen apart and the centre cannot hold.

But it is Africa's situation that makes this whole scenario look so much like what former United States of America ambassador Christopher Dell said about MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai - he would need "massive hand holding" as head of state and government.

To begin with, it is all very well for the Western media and all of us now parroting claims about the dictatorships and undemocratic nature of governments in Arab Africa.

But, who made them who they are? Who made nationals of these countries virtual prisoners as their leaders dined with one Western leader after another, never batting their eyelids, never advising them to hold democratic elections as they do, until the Internet's social networks gave them that leeway?

It is baffling. Western governments poured billions of aid money in some of these countries. Egypt for example! This was also matched by the capital flight with the majority of that aid money finding its way back into Western banking institutions. As for Libya - the biggest oil producing country on the continent, reports have shown that Col Gaddafi invested billions of dollars of the black gold funds in different parts of the world - mostly in Western countries.

United Nations resolution 1970, the precursor to UNSC resolution 1973 dealt with sanctions against the Gaddafi administration. All Libyan assets were frozen, and they run into billions of dollars.

However, the economic crises in the United States of America and the Eurozone region are forcing them to look elsewhere for funding to create jobs for young people who can also rise up against their governments just like they have done in North Africa and other parts of the Middle East.

These benefactors who believe that they are saving us from our undemocratic leaders never realise that it is only a matter of time before the monsters they have created through ICTs boomerang back home.

The unfolding events in Libya since February also raise more questions than answers, although the West would want to make it look like a simplistic thing - Africans should show their unfettered willingness to comply with their demands when they want to effect illegal regime change, in order to access the vast natural resources on the continent.

The Benghazi residents were the first to rise up against the government of Col Gaddafi.

Initially, they were protesters, and then they became rebels. To others, as they started having an upper hand against Col Gaddafi's forces, they became revolutionaries. It was also an anti-government protest, which ended as a civil war or full scale war between NATO and the Libyan forces.

Interestingly, to the Western media, they have remained Libyan rebels or rebels of the National Transitional Council showing massive handholding, and that being fully recognised and institutionalised is a process, and will be on NATO and its allies' terms.

Today, when the Contact Group on Libya transforms to the Friends of Libya at a meeting in Paris it is envisaged that these "Friends of Libya" who do not have the decency of consulting Africa will officially recognise the National Transitional Council as Libya's new governing authority. It was French President Nicolas Sarkozy whose planes first implemented the "no fly zone" in Libya by carrying out a bombing campaign which has not relented, who is hosting the "Friends of Libya". A case of Africa being swallowed by the West! Under NATO, Africa saw rebels transformed from protesters to heavily armed "fighters".

Reports say that the UN will be represented at the Paris meeting where conflicting reports about the invitations to Russia, China and India abounded.

It is the same UN that has failed this continent in the past half century when it turned a blind eye as pioneers of pan-Africanism Patrice Lumumba was assassinated and the ousting of Ghana's founding father, Kwame Nkrumah.

However, it is Africa's conflict resolution mechanisms that are now under spotlight when Libya points to more scenarios: uprisings, national transitional councils and finally the friends of Africa moving in with humanitarian assistance while they parcel out contracts for rebuilding and reconstruction to each other. Aristocracy of mercy at its best!

And, Africa remains mum. They expect China and Russia, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to do the dirty job for them - veto the resolutions.

It is unthinkable that after the embarrassing failure on the no fly zone, Africa would not apply cautious pragmatism. But recently, they again allowed Western governments led by the United States, France and Britain to unfreeze US$1,5 billion dollars to go to "relevant authorities" in Libya and not the "National Transitional Council" as the clause initially implied. Africa, semantically challenged or what?

These "lords of poverty" and "masters of disaster" wanted to rescue the Libyan "people" from Gaddafi, and how did they do it? By dropping sorties and providing arms of war to all and sundry in Libya.

Surely, they could have dug deep into their pockets and started the rebuilding and reconstruction exercise, while waiting for a transparent and accountable system to be put in place.

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