People, not foreign invasion, can free Libya

This September 2017 video is called Deteriorated Health Conditions in Libya.

Washington is now spearheading contingency plans for an international intervention against the Gaddafi regime, aimed at securing the imperialist powers’ control over Libyan oil reserves: here.

Libyan revolutionaries speak out: ‘The West’s war machine won’t help us win’: here.

Blair and Gadaffi

Tony Blair used his final foreign trip as prime minister to sign a confidential deal with Muammar Gaddafi to train Libyan special forces and supply him with Nato secrets: here.

US Moves Ships, Aircraft as Libya Fighting Rages: here.

3 thoughts on “People, not foreign invasion, can free Libya

  1. 28 February 2011

    EU Migration Control: Made by Gaddafi?

    ISN ETH Zurich

    For over three years now, we have relied on Gaddafi and his state apparatus to keep asylum seekers and other migrants away from our European doors.

    By Gregor Noll and Mariagiulia Giuffré for openDemocracy

    Amongst observers to the unravelling of the authoritarian government in Libya, there is a far-reaching consensus that a government that uses indiscriminate lethal force to retain power is, as the diplomatic phrasebook has it, “unacceptable”. Yet, over the past six years, it has been perfectly acceptable for EU governments to outsource its border protection to an authoritarian leader with a dismal human rights record. Today, we should not only recall the fact that it is EU member states that are importing some 80% of Libya’s total oil production. We, the citizens of the EU, should also be reminded that for over three years now, we have relied on Gaddafi and his state apparatus to keep asylum seekers and other migrants away from our doors.

    The Gaddafi Government’s treatment of migrants has been known to undercut human rights for a long time. In the past week, matters have escalated further. Human rights groups have reported atrocious racist violence against Sub-Saharan Africans in Libya, including those removed there by Italy on the basis of bilateral agreements with Libya designed to combat illegal immigration to Europe. Eritrean, Somali, and Sudanese refugees, accused of being mercenaries on the payroll of the government are summarily executed with knives and machetes. Prisons have been randomly bombed, including a facility in Misratah, where a large proportion of the immigrants and asylum seekers intercepted in the attempt to reach European soil are currently being detained.

    In the light of both the patent brutality of the Gaddafi government against its own citizens and such heinous violations of the fundamental human rights of migrants and refugees in the country, to what extent can Italy and the EU as a whole legitimately keep on justifying their bilateral cooperation on illegal immigration with Libya?

    Background to murder

    In June 2010, the EU Commission and Libya signed a Memorandum of Understanding undertaking to provide EU technical assistance and cooperation for the period from 2011 to 2013. The Migration Cooperation Agenda agreed in October with Libya aims to jointly address the challenge of managing migration and protecting refugees by offering 50 million Euros in aid to stop migrants and would-be refugees transiting through Libya on their way to Europe. Meanwhile, with the full support of the EU, Italy boasts a well-established relationship with Libya consecrated by two Protocols of technical and police cooperation dating back to December 2007 and aimed at combatting criminal organizations involved in the trafficking of human beings. A Partnership Treaty to strengthen mutual cooperation in various fields, signed on August 2008, and providing for a $5 billion compensation package putting an end to the dispute on claims arising from Italian colonialism, was made conditional upon a reinforcement of Libya’s commitment to the containment of illegal immigration by sea.

    Bearing in mind that the costs of Libyan land borders and territorial waters’ patrols are jointly financed by Italy and the European Union, in the last two years hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers intercepted at sea have been driven back to Libya without any chance of setting foot on European soil to claim asylum. But in Libya, migrants and refugee are victims of discriminatory treatment of all kinds. They live in constant fear of being arrested, in which case they will be indefinitely confined in overcrowded detention centres where they are exploited, beaten, raped, and abused. Refugees who have no possibility of applying for asylum or accessing any other effective remedy, thereby run the risk of being forcibly returned to countries of origin where they may face persecution or torture. The inadequacy of Libya’s response to the flow of migrants and refugees is so infamous and well documented that it simply cannot be the case that the EU member states are only now starting to gain an insight into Libya’s doubtful track record in human rights, rule of law, and democracy.

    Surely the Italian government is the real culprit in this story, as it has taken the lead role in pushing back asylum-seekers and other migrants to Libya? Isn’t this the case? Not so. European law requires member states to control the Union’s external border. If a state fails to do so, it is forced by law to take back asylum seekers and other immigrants that have migrated onwards to other EU countries. What Italy has done was only trying to pass the buck. So the reprehensible pact trading in migrants’ lives between Berlusconi’s and Gaddafi’s governments is but a logical consequence of reprehensible EU legislation in the form of the Dublin Regulation.

    A few days ago, Gaddafi warned the EU that he would halt cooperation on illegal immigration if European governments took the side of protesters. What is to be done now?

    First, suspend the Treaty

    First, Gaddafi’s threat is a timely reminder that the EU and all its member states should no longer entrust border control to Gaddafi’s atrocious government. The Partnership Treaty between Italy and Libya expressly contains a human rights clause. On this basis, the Italian government must immediately suspend the Treaty.

    Second, the Dublin Regulation establishes that the EU member state a person first arrived in is ultimately responsible for examining an asylum application. This puts excessive pressure on border countries, who prefer to pass the buck to unsafe non-European third countries through bilateral readmission agreements. Instead of indirectly pushing single member states to muster human rights violators in Northern Africa as their border control agents, the Dublin Regulation must be revised so that asylum seekers are no longer sent back to the country where they first entered the EU. This has been discussed in European fora for more than a decade, but to no avail. Gaddafi’s Libya is as good a reminder as any of the urgency to act on this matter, as EU cooperation with Algeria and Morocco on migration interception is still ongoing.

    Third, no future migration control cooperation should be entered into with regimes that are likely to violate human rights. Existing agreements with other Northern African states should be suspended until they have been revised and reinforced with human rights conditionality clauses and impartial monitoring.

    The EU as a project has engendered much talk of European values. Our cooperation with Libya, directly or by our Italian proxy, exposes this talk as hypocritical. If we want to be seen as serious about human rights, here is our chance to show our ability to learn from past mistakes.

    Dr Gregor Noll is Professor of international law, Faculty of Law, Lund University.

    Mariagiulia Giuffré is a doctoral candidate at the School of International Studies, University of Trento.


  2. Libya: “Europe has no claim to moral leadership”

    Fellesrådet for Afrika

    Av Richard Pithouse / Mandag 28. februar 2011

    [We cannot know the trajectories of the uprisings that have swept North Africa and the Middle East. But one thing is for sure. Whatever pompous claims to the contrary come out of Washington and Brussels, these are not revolts for American or European values. On the contrary they are a direct challenge to those values. They are revolts against a global power structure that is formed by an international alliance of elites with one of its key principles being the idea, the racist idea, that Arabs are ‘not yet ready’ for democracy, writes Richard Pithouse of the Rhodes University (SA) and The South African Civil Society Information Service (SACSIS).]

    As the first unconfirmed reports of airborne attacks on protestors in Tripoli and Benghazi reached Al Jazeera the station crossed to a spokesperson for the European Union. There was talk of the need to affirm ‘European values’. Moments later the programme cut away to the story of the two Libyan fighter pilots who had landed in Malta and sought political asylum rather than obey orders to attack protestors in Benghazi.

    Those pilots are not the first people to have arrived in Malta after crossing the Mediterranean from Libya. But most people who make that journey don’t arrive in Mirage F1s. Migrants take many routes into Europe. Some people cross into Greece from Turkey, others from Algeria into Spain. For many, the way into Europe is through the Sahara into Libya, across the ocean and into Malta and Italy. The migrants come from Somalia, from Chad, from Senegal, from Nigeria and from all over North and West Africa.

    The journey across the Mediterranean in small and usually over crowded boats is perilous and many have sunk. If they are intercepted by the Italian navy the migrants are forced off the boats, often with clubs and batons that dispense electric shocks, and taken to prisons in Tripoli. In crass violation of international law no attempt is made to ascertain whether or not the migrants are political refugees or to enquire into their health or where the parents of children may be.

    From Tripoli they are taken to European funded migrant detention centres in places like the tiny village of Al Qatran out in the dessert near the border with Chad and Niger. Al Qatran is a thousand kilometres from Tripoli and it may take three days for captured migrants to be moved across that distance in trucks. In the detention centres there may be more than fifty people in a room. They sleep on the floor. The routine sadism that always occurs in any situation in which some people are given absolute power over others is endemic. There are beatings, rapes and extortion. Suicides are a common response as are mass jailbreaks in which many migrants have been killed by the Libyan police. But some have escaped out into the vastness of the Sahara to make what they can of sudden freedom without papers or money in a desert.

    It was in the early days of the 2003 Iraq war that Tony Blair first proposed the idea that migrants trying to enter Europe should be sent to ‘transit processing centres’ outside of Europe. There is a similar logic here to the way in which the United States has outsourced torture to countries like Egypt.

    Muammar Gaddafi’s early attempts to show that he would be able to take on the policing of Europe’s borders were not a huge success. In August 2004 a plane was chartered to deport 75 captured Eritrean migrants from Tripoli but the passengers seized control of the plane in mid flight and diverted it to Khartoum where the UNHCR recognised 60 of them as legitimate political refugees.

    But on the same day that the European union lifted its economic sanctions and arms embargo on Libya in October 2004 it was agreed to engage with Libya on ‘immigration matters’ and a technical team was sent to Libya the following month. The United Kingdom and France both moved quickly to sell weapons to Libya and in 2008 Italy and Libya signed The Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation between the Italian Republic and Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in which Italy agreed to invest five billion dollars in Libya in exchange for, amongst other things, a Libyan agreement to undertake to police migration into Europe via Libya. Silvio Berlusconi declared that closer relations with Libya are about “fewer illegal immigrants and more oil.” Since then Berlusconi and Gaddafi have, through the investment arms of their respective family trusts, become co-owners of a major communications company.

    This sort of personal connection between an elected politician in the West and a despot elsewhere is hardly unique. The French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie spent her Christmas holiday in Tunisia as a guest of a businessman with close ties to Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali as the protests against Ben Ali were gathering strength. The first response of the French state to the protests in Tunisia was to send arms to Ben Ali. The French Prime Minister Francois Fillon spent his Christmas holiday on the Nile as a guest of the Egyptian state. In March 2009 US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, commented, in a discussion about severe and routine human rights violations by the Mubarak regime, that “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.”

    In recent years all sorts of European institutions beyond oil companies and security agencies made their own deals with the dictatorship in Tripoli. The London School of Economics accepted a £1.5m grant from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation for a ‘virtual democracy centre’. The Foundation is headed by the same Saif al-Islam Gaddafi who recently went on to Libyan television to tell protestors that his father’s government would ‘fight to the last minute, until the last bullet’.

    The Europe of colonialism, slavery and genocide has no claim to moral leadership in this world. The Europe that backed the Mubarak dictatorship for thirty years and the Ben Ali dictatorship for twenty-three years has no claim to moral leadership in this world. The Europe that helped to smash Iraq in the invasion of 2003 has no claim to moral leadership in this world. The Europe that refused to allow the Haitian people to elect a leadership of its choosing by supporting a coup against that leadership in 2004 has no claim to moral leadership in this world. The Europe that has been directly responsible for the documented deaths of almost 14,000 migrants since 1993 has no claim to moral leadership in this world.

    It is true enough that the modern form of democracy began in Europe with the French Revolution of 1789. But when African slaves in Haiti took the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity seriously and won their own revolution in 1804 it immediately became clear that the French did not intend democracy to be for everyone. That has been the European position ever since.

    To choose democracy is not to choose Europe and it is certainly not to choose the United States of America, which has overthrown democratically elected governments around the world when electorates have had the temerity to elect the ‘wrong’ leaders. In fact, any serious commitment to democracy has to reject the moral and political authority of Europe and the United States of America. Any commitment to democracy has to assert, very clearly, that all people everywhere have the right to govern themselves according to their own will.

    We cannot know the trajectories of the uprisings that have swept North Africa and the Middle East. But one thing is for sure. Whatever pompous claims to the contrary come out of Washington and Brussels, these are not revolts for American or European values. On the contrary they are a direct challenge to those values. They are revolts against a global power structure that is formed by an international alliance of elites with one of its key principles being the idea, the racist idea, that Arabs are ‘not yet ready’ for democracy. This, of course, is an echo of one of the common justifications for apartheid. But the plain fact of the matter is that anyone who says that anyone else isn’t yet ready for democracy is no democrat.

    Ben Ali and Mubarak were little more than co-opted Bantustan leaders in a system of global apartheid. Gadaffi’s oil funded cruelty, megalomania and opportunism have taken him in many directions in his 42-year reign but have, in recent years, been leading him in the same direction. Democratising a Bantustan is progress. But democratising a Bantustan is not enough. The whole global system needs to be democratised.

    Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University.


  3. Pingback: ‘President Macron, stop your dangerous nuclear policy’ | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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