Bad man killed, worse may win
Published in: Daily Mail
Britain’s astonishing naivety and credulity when it comes to the Arab and Muslim world have given way, with the killing of Col Gaddafy, to a tardy tremulousness as people wonder nervously: ‘Now what?’ Too late! Britain treated Gaddafy as a cartoon character – not just because of his caricature as a bizarre and unpredictable ‘mad dog’, but because British commentators and even politicians tend to depict armed conflict in cartoonish terms: ‘bad man killed, so goodies win’. Alas, in the Arab and Muslim world it’s very often ‘bad man killed, even worse men win’.
Gaddafy was undoubtedly a very bad man. But the Prime Minister’s self-congratulation yesterday for having helped bring about the fall of the Gaddafy regime and thus give Libyans the chance ‘of building for themselves a strong and democratic future’ was, although statesmanlike in its relative restraint, still distinctly premature.
For neither Mr Cameron nor anyone else has a clue what will happen now. The signs, however, are not promising. The Libyan National Transitional Council headed by Mustafa Jalil is regarded by the west as a government in waiting. But in fact, the NTC is unpopular in many quarters – and many other groups are now jostling for power. Such tensions and potential chaos could very easily lead to civil war.
Particularly alarming, there is a significant Islamist presence among the rebel forces. The commander of the Tripoli Military Council, Abdul al-Hakim al-Hasadi, was formerly head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a U.S.-designated terrorist organisation affiliated with al Qaeda. He claims to have disavowed his record of extremism -- but who can be reassured by that, especially as he has admitted that his forces have jihadist links?
And just get your head round this. Al-Hasadi has admitted that he previously fought against ‘the foreign invasion’ in Afghanistan before being captured in 2002 in Pakistan. He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.
So although al Hasadi was captured as a jihadi enemy trying to kill western forces in Afghanistan, the UK military has subsequently helped him win power in Libya. Indeed, Britain’s backing for the Libyan rebellion has been echoed by al Qaeda. Just how crazy is this??
Even more alarmingly it has also been reported that, on the quiet, Iran has been backing the Libyan rebels with humanitarian aid. Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said:
‘The head of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, sent a letter of thanks to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for having been on their side and helping’.
Then consider the reason the UK went into Libya in the first place – to stop the atrocities against the Libyan people. Yet the UK and French-backed rebels have reportedly committed terrible racist atrocities. In Tawergha, Libya’s coastal town populated mostly by black people, rebels torched and vandalised homes and scrawled on walls the words ‘slaves’ and ‘negroes.’
Every house, shop, school and public building was ransacked and hundreds of families were forced to flee. Although these were purportedly revenge attacks against pro-Gaddafy forces in Tawergha, the rebels did not treat Gaddafy loyalists so harshly in predominantly lighter-skinned towns like Bani Walid and Zlitin. So British forces on a mission to end violent oppression appear to have been aiding racist ethnic cleansing. Just how coherent is this?
The fact is that the UK, backed by France, has been bombing the hell out of Libya without having the faintest idea of who it was actually fighting for, and what political outcome in Libya it would thus help bring about. The only aim was to kill Gaddafy and end his brutal regime. For the British and the French Prime Ministers, it would appear therefore ‘bad man killed so goodies win’ is how they see the world.
Pretty much the same thing is true of Egypt, where the US and UK helped force out western ally President Mubarak – merely to position themselves opportunistically as promoters of the ‘Arab Spring’. Yet now the army is cracking down on human rights – and it looks very likely that in due course some kind of Islamist regime will come to power in Egypt hostile to the US, Israel and the west.
War is only ever justified to protect a country against the likelihood of attack, or to prevent actual genocide (not the same thing as civil war or even mass killing). That’s why (and despite serial popular misapprehensions) I believe the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were justified (although their inept prosecution turned them into disasters, but that’s another story).
Although Gaddafy was at best only a tamed enemy, the fact that the UK went to war against his regime not in self-defence but on vague ‘humanitarian’ grounds -- while all the time sitting on its hands as Iran, the truly mortal enemy of the free world, proceeds to built its nuclear weapons in order to win the war it has been waging against the west for more than three decades -- is a misjudgement of near-criminal frivolity.
The true legacy of David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama could be that in Libya and Egypt they will have helped secure the removal of tyrants who enslaved their own people but were at least in part useful to the west by tyrants who will enslave their own people and be devoted to waging war against the west.
Oh – and according to ABC news, officials at a recent secret White House meeting reported that thousands of portable surface-to-air missiles, the kind that can bring down a commercial jetliner, have now gone missing in Libya, raising the nightmare possibility that they could have fallen into the hands of al Qaeda or other groups hostile to the west.
Thanks to the opportunistic blundering of Messrs Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy, the ‘Arab Spring’ in Libya and Egypt could well turn into a nightmarish winter.