Silencing the Call of Democracy and
Hijacking the Arab Revolution:
Hidden Agenda and Secret Alliances Behind the Libyan Crisis
By Zaman Stanizai
When the Arab Spring was in the offing, the
view from the Western media's lens of cultural relativism was one of shock and
dismay at the Arabs' desire for democracy and their willingness to achieve this
lofty ideal by peaceful means. Our intelligence agencies were flabbergasted by
their inability to stymie these revolutions, notwithstanding the fact that they
had failed once more in predicting them like in critical junctures near the
turn of every decade: from the Prague Spring of 1968 to the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan in 1979, from the fall and dissolution of the Soviet Union ten
years later to the 9/11 tragedy in 2001, and now the Arab Spring in 2011.
Our leaders were equally taken aback by the groundswell of resistance to
dictatorships across the Arab world that sent Western policy makers back to the
drawing board to devise a new foreign policy towards the Muslim Middle
East. Early indications are that the new policy is neither a sincere
response to the crisis at hand, nor is it a fair and balanced foreign policy
that many have been calling for since 9/11. Instead, it is the same old policy
of using dictators as a wedge between the people and their resources undergone
a cosmetic surgery, a facelift that serves U.S. corporate interests instead of
American democratic ideals. This policy projects an attitude that harkens
back to the times when Europeans justified their continued colonization by
claiming that their non-European subjects were not capable of governing
themselves let alone doing so democratically.
While the resonance of Obama's call for
democracy still echoed in the streets of Cairo, he gave support to the
indispensable dictatorship of Mubarak who was promised sanctuary, safety and
incentives for a peaceful transition of power so that the baton could be passed
on to another ‘trusted' man. Obama's special envoy to Egypt, Frank Wisner,
stated that the Egyptian president "must stay in office" to guide his country through transitions. Perhaps he
meant to say transition to the status quo ante.
The rapid unraveling of the hypocritical
scheme of protecting dictatorship under the pretence of supporting democracy
called for a 180-degree role reversal to use provocation instead of
accommodation. When people were rising against Qaddafi, politicians and
diplomats defecting from his government, army units joining protestors and
Qaddafi fading away in the dust storm of a peaceful revolution, President Obama
declared that Mr. Qaddafi must be removed from power, Prime Minister Cameron
called for "the departure of Qaddafi from power as quickly as
possible," and the U.N. Security Council referred Mr. Qaddafi to the
International Criminal Court for prosecution.
With his back to the wall, the desperate
Qaddafi had no choice but to fight for his life. The French began a preemptive
attack on March 19th to enforce the no-fly zone. The U.S. joined the operation
citing the imminent danger of a bloodbath in Benghazi. The terms ‘preemptive
attack' and ‘immanent danger' along with March 19th as the date of attack all
seem to come from George Bush's playbook on Iraq.
The Muslim world looks at the American and
NATO military operations with profound skepticism. Not that many tears are
shed for Qaddafi, but because the concern to protect civilians in Libya stands
in stark contrast with the West's disregard for Muslim civilians from Bahrain
to Pakistan and from Yemen to Afghanistan where civilians' protests over the
persistent drone attacks are dismissed with denials and repeated apologies
that imply insincerity and indifference as shown in the recent Rolling Stone
If this legitimate revolution is turned
into a civil war, it will be a win-win situation for the West. If Qaddafi
survives, the Arab Spring will virtually have ended, as other ‘friendly'
dictators could apply his brutal model of suppression with impunity. If
the Libyan opposition wins, their government will be beholden to the West and
will have to pay the piper through oil concessions. A stalemate and
prolonged battles would virtually divide Libya into two parts each more
vulnerable to Western manipulation as they will use their oil for weapon
procurement from the West.
For the West Qaddafi is expendable as he
has outlived his usefulness. He scrapped his nuclear program in 2004; he took
responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paid $2.7 billion compensation.
After the lifting of the U.N. sanctions Qaddafi invested his capital in the
West. He visited Italy at the head of a delegation of Libyan businessmen keen
to increase their investments in Italian industry, making Libya Italy's most
important trading partner. During President Sarkozy's visit to Libya, in
July 2007 a multi-billion contract was signed for Rafael fighters and nuclear
The situation turned against Qaddafi when
his ex-chief of protocol, Nouri Massoud El-Mesmari, defected to France and
according to Thierry Meyssan of the Voltaire Network, "proposed to the
French to organize an uprising in Benghazi to overthrow Gaddafi."
Qaddafi who was rumored to have secretly financed Sarkozy's election campaign
felt betrayed and cancelled the $6.5 billion contract they signed four years
earlier. The French retaliated by asking the British to co-create a military
expeditionary force that lead to the military exercise Southern Mistral.
The French were itching for revenge and the
Arab Spring provided the opportunity. The occurrence of the first two
revolutions in two states adjacent to Libya conveniently provided the
opportunity to cloud the cause and effect of events. Libya's safe
distance from the strategic Persian Gulf probably got the U.S. on board, and
the vilified name of Qaddafi had the added advantage of turning Western public
opinion against him to justify a military operation.
This French Connection explains why the
aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle was deployed to the coast of Libya early in
March along with USS Enterprise as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn. This
also explains why the French aircraft initiated the attack on Libyan forces and
why a key meeting on Libya was held in Paris on March 21 to define the terms of
military engagement in Libya.
But none of that explains Obama's
double-talk that the U.S. was moving to a backseat role at the same time it was
stepping up the Tomahawk cruise missiles attacks and saying that Qaddafi's
removal was not a U.S. military objective when The New York Times leaks the
news of CIA operatives on the ground in Libya. Worse yet according to Asia
Times, "Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently
confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the
go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy
movement in their neighbor in exchange for a "yes" vote by the Arab
League for a no-fly zone over Libya." Thus only nine out of 22
members of the Arab League were "seduced" to vote for the no-fly zone
by the House of Saud, ‘the guardians of
the holy mosques'—a most unholy alliance.
At this juncture, the peaceful grassroots
revolution spearheaded by the February 17th Youth has been marginalized. The
current wave of protesters may be fighting at the behest of foreign powers.
Professor Vijay Prashad exposes two of these groups. "Khalifah Hifler, was
a general who led Libyan troops in Chad in the 1980s and was then taken up with
the Libyan National Salvation Front, went off to live in Vienna, Virginia, for
30 years, about a ten minute drive from Langley [where the CIA is
headquartered], and returned to Benghazi." In addition to NATO
members, it's fundamentally Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia that call for the
Libyan intervention and is the same force putting down the uprising in Bahrain.
When governments that claim legitimacy as
governments of the people, for the people, and by the people betray the trust
of the people, they will never regain the moral high ground to preach democracy
to others. Mubarak may have been in denial and Qaddafi may be deserted,
but it is our naked aggression that is subjected to indecent exposure on the
Mediterranean shore. Not until we've been reflected in the mirror of our
consciousness will we realize that the tragedy of Libya is by design and it is
as much our responsibility as it is theirs.
This article was also published in articlesbase.com on April 6, 2011.