By Ameen Izzadeen
(This article also appeared in Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)
As the United States, France, Britain and their capitalist allies in the so-called coalition intensify their efforts to bring about a regime change in Libya, it becomes more and more evident that the Libyan democracy protest was a drama scripted by the West.
Yet it is disheartening to note that a majority of the citizens of the coalition countries have no intention to protest against their governments’ disgraceful behaviour or profit-driven wars sold to them as humanitarian intervention. As the world marks April Fools’ Day today, a majority of the people in the West are unaware that their governments have made every day in the calendar an April Fools’ Day.
The conflict in Libya is not about democracy — it is about regime change, oil and diverting international attention from the crises that are besieging the pro-Western dictators in Bahrain and Yemen.
The regime-change project is as old as Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule. It did not get off the ground when Libya was enjoying the protection of the Soviet Union during the Cold War days. But in the post-cold war era, the project was revived and fine-tuned as Libya continued its anti-West policies by supporting the Palestinian cause, allying with Iran during the nine-year Iran-Iraq war, arming and financing the Northern Ireland’s rebellion against the British colonialists and supporting anti-imperialist causes in Africa.
Gaddafi’s revolutionary idealism turned towards political realism, however, when he, in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq, realized that his anti-West policies could become an invitation for oil-robbing Western colonialists to invade his country. He wooed the West by dismantling Libya’s weapons of mass destruction programme and offering business opportunities. Then how did things turn sour for Libya?
Although Gaddafi, driven by political realism, tried to become a friend of the West, he was not a servant of the West — like the Arabian Gulf rulers whom Gaddafi described as ‘women in robes’ because of their inability to stand up for the cause of the Palestinian people. The overthrow of Gaddafi was in the interest of not only the West, but also of Israel and the Saudi Arabian royal family which accuses the Libyan regime of financing a plot to assassinate King Abdullah.
Joel Bainerman, an Israel-based investigative journalist, in his book ‘Inside the Covert Operations of the CIA & Israel’s Mossad (New York: S.P.I. Books, 1994) says Israel and the US set up a number of bases in Chad and other neighboring countries to train 2000 Libyan soldiers who had defected to the Chad army. The funding for the Chad-based anti-Gaddafi group — the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) — came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Israel and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The NFSL is the main player of the Libyan opposition coalition today.
Reports said the leader of the group, Commander Khalifa Hifter, who was captured in Chad and transported to Virginia where he led a life of luxury for 20 years, had returned to Libya together with a host of CIA mercenaries to assume the leadership of the military operations of anti-Gaddafi rebels. In this CIA-manipulated war, even friends of al-Qaeda have become US allies. The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and the Americans in Iraq, is part and parcel of the opposition though it has reservations about the West’s real motives. This is because the self-styled opposition-led government in rebel-controlled Benghazi has already formed a company to negotiate oil deals with Western oil giants. If and when a regime change occurs and the opposition comes to power, the internal disagreements within the opposition coalition may erupt into a protracted civil war with the Islamists opposing the new pro-West regime.
Besides these issues, the Libyan crisis has offered a convenient excuse for the embedded media to shift attention away from Bahrain where people are disappearing overnight and Yemen where scores are killed daily. Yet the demonisation of Gaddafi is priority number one for the embedded media, including Al-Jazeera.
In reality, Libya is a good example of a welfare state. Gaddafi has not built huge palaces like the Gulf sheikhs have done with public money.
Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian doctors serving in Libya in a letter to Russian leaders reminded them that in Libya people are entitled to free treatment in hospitals that have the best of medical equipment. Education in Libya is free. The government also meets the expenses of those who pursue higher education abroad. When marrying, young couples receive 60,000 Libyan dinars (about 50,000 U.S. dollars) of financial assistance at zero interest. The government subsidizes the price of cars enabling everyone to own a vehicle. Petrol and bread cost a penny while no taxes are imposed on those who are engaged in agriculture.
“If such a regime were in Ukraine or Russia, we would not have been here — and worked and enjoyed the social comfort at home in our own countries and in every possible way such a regime would be maintained,” the doctors said in their letter.