Sunday, February 18, 2018

Arab 'fig leaf' for regime change


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THAT which started as a claimed humanitarian mission to save civilian lives in Libya has quickly escalated into the more precise objective of the intervening military powers US, Britain and France regime change in Tripoli.

As a journalist I have no tears to shed for President Moammar Gadaffi who has been ruling that oil-rich Arab nation with an iron fist for some four decades.

Nor do I have any illusion that the intervening military powers have much time for the thinking of the people and governments of the Caribbean a region that bridges the two Americas when it comes to attaining their objectives in any part of the world much less the personal views of an ordinary West Indian journalist.

As Gadaffi was facing a militant armed rebellion against "undemocratic governance'', in the wake of earlier similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen where governments have long mocked democratic governance a Washington-Paris-London leadership troika was engaged in quietly lobbying for an Arab endorsement to provide regional cover via the United Nations Security Council.

That endorsement, or "fig leaf'' covering came from the Arab League and was to result in the UN Security Council's resolution of March 17.

It gave authority, by a ten-to-five majority for a "no-fly zone'' in Libya and approval for use of all necessary measures to protect civilians in the conflict that was raging between Gadaffi's forces and an armed rebellion against his government.

Not without significance, a primary mover behind the Arab League's endorsement of the UN resolution was the organisation's secretary general, Amir Moussa.

He had previously been fingered by American journalist Seymour Hersh, as Washington's "Plan B'' to succeed the US much loved Hosni Mubarak, who was forced out of the presidency last month after some three decades of dictatorial rule, including like Gadaffi, torture and murder.

It is no longer a secret that the Arab League's Moussa is a potential presidential candidate for Egypt's new general election under a new constitution.

But as the military might of the intervening powers was being unleashed against Gadaffi's forces, the Arab League felt compelled to issue a statement complaining against violations of the terms of the "no-fly zone'' UN resolution with the bombings of specific infrastructures, including a sprawling headquarter compound of Gadaffi where civilians were killed.

As some of the enforcers of the UN resolution went on the defensive to claim that the Libyan president was not targeted, others were holding private discussions with the armed rebels and France made known its readiness to recognise the legitimacy of anti-Gadaffi national council located in Bengazi.

However, the double-speak and lingering doubts about the real objective of the intervening military powers in Libya came to an end by Monday with a public warning from US President Barack Obama who is, quite surprisingly, proving to be a politician for all seasons.

He was firm in declaring while in Brazil one of the five countries to have abstained from the "no-fly zone'' resolution (others were China, India, Russia and Germany)- that the time had come for "Gadaffi to go''.

In other words, as George Bush had done differently in Iraq with Saddam Hussein and subsequently, in collaboration with France's Nicolas sarkozy in relation to Haiti's Bertrand Aristide "regime change'' in Tripoli is very much on the agenda of President Obama, who had already signalled his U-turn against closing down Guantanamo as a notorious detention centre for alleged terrorists as earlier firmly pledged.

I conclude with a brief excerpt of what Caricom Heads of Government had to say on developments in the Middle East and North Africa when they held their first half-yearly meeting for 2011 in Grenada last month:

"...The Caribbean community promotes and encourages adherence to democratic principles, good governance, the rule of law and the protection of human rights. The community reiterates its endorsement of the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and, therefore, condemn the use of violence against people who are protesting peacefully....''

That was on February 27. Since then the political conflagration in the Middle East and North Africa has considerably worsened, with Saudi Arabia sending troops to forcefully put down an anti-government rebellion in Bahrain.

Secondly, the US, UK and France using as a "fig leaf'' the Arab League's flattering endorsement of a "no-fly zone'' in Libya to unleash enormous military power and now the warning from President Obama that "Gadaffi must go'', President George W Bush must be smiling.

Let us get ready for regime change in Tripoli compliments of even a coalition of intervening powers with conflicting messages and priorities.