The flying of the Palestinian flag signals Aberdeen’s solidarity with the Palestinian people who remain steadfast in the face of the denial of their national and human rights.
Dame Anne Begg MP is highly supportive of the Council’s plans, stating that:
“I am proud that Aberdeen City Council are flying the Palestinian flag from the Town House on November 29th to commemorate the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
“This day serves as an important reminder of continual hardships Palestinians face on a daily basis and the need for a just and lasting peaceful resolution to the conflict. I am happy to see Aberdeen stand side by side with the Palestinians at this time”
To celebrate this important event Aberdeen Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the University and College Union are hosting a public reception at the University of Aberdeen’s Macrobert Lecture Theatre on the evening of the 29th November.
A number of excellent speakers will be talking on the night, with the theme of the evening focused on how best to build and strengthen links and solidarity between Aberdeen and Palestine.
There will be an opportunity to hear directly from Gaza, as Rafat Abushaban, a Gazan activist, will speak live through video –link, giving an update on the situation in Gaza. Frank Doran, MP for Aberdeen North, will reflect on his own visit last year to Palestine as part of a Labour delegation.
Poetry of the Palestinian struggle will be provided by Hilda Meers from Scottish Jews for a Just Peace. Mike Arnott, from Dundee Trades Union Council, who was part of the effort which led to Dundee’s twinning with Nablus, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, will tell of this success.
We will also be joined by Aberdeen TUC’s Tommy Campbell who will discuss Aberdeen’s history of solidarity struggle, particularly against South African Apartheid.
Karolin Hijazi, a Palestinian activist, working with Aberdeen UCU and SPSC will then talk about the potential and importance of taking forward Palestine Solidarity in Aberdeen.
It is hoped that as well as marking a historic date for Aberdeen’s solidarity with the people of Palestine, this event will build on and strengthen the struggle for Palestinian rights in Aberdeen. If you would like further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Flying the Flag for Palestine in Aberdeen
6pm on 29th November,
Macrobert Lecture Theatre,
University of Aberdeen,
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Something for the weekend, sir? Duncan Harley comments on the newspapers you might like to read if you had the time, the money and the inclination. This week he looks at The Times Saturday.
At a cool £1.50 a pop, The Times Saturday Scotland Edition is quite a heavyweight. My bathroom scales are a bit creaky but I reckon this week’s 70960th edition weighs in at just over 0.62kg, including inserts. That’s a fair weight indeed. If US figures are to be believed, then around 500,000 trees are required just to make the paper to print the Sunday papers in the USA.
The UK weekend papers probably consume proportionally as much timber. However, digital may well be the way to go with offerings from DC Thompson, The Sun and Aberdeen Voice pioneering a tree-free eco-press.
On the moon of course, this week’s Times Saturday would weigh a mere 0.1kg due to reduced gravity, but when I last checked there were no trees on this side of the moon. This might make printing somewhat difficult.
This week’s newspaper leads on two stories. The first is an extended piece about Robert Mugabe’s secret deal to sell uranium to Iran. It seems this ‘secret’ deal may lead to ‘retaliatory action by the international community’, according to correspondent Michael Evans. More sanctions against the ordinary folk of Zimbabwe are on the horizon it seems.
Alongside this front page leader, runs a story about some cute pandas. Apparently Tian Tian, who is one of only a thousand pandas left in the world, may be pregnant.
Edinburgh Zoo spent £250,000 constructing a state-of-the-art panda enclosure and currently pays China fees of £650,000 per year, a fact not many people will know since The Times has not chosen to incorporate this information in the cute panda article.
Times cartoonist Morten Morland has drawn on the affair with a parody on page 23, two adult pandas are pictured lying slumped after a meal of bamboo shoots with a speech bubble reading, ‘Alex Salmond says the birth will be announced on an easel outside the Scottish Parliament’. Not very original perhaps, but certainly very revealing of the editorial stance of the newspaper.
On page 27, Pickles features again
All is not doom and gloom, however. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government makes the news in two articles.
On page 13, Eric Pickles is slated for suggesting that UK birth certificates will soon be replaced by an EEC compulsory registration document. It seems this may be complete rubbish, and Karl Turner, Labour MP for Hull East is quoted, ‘This looks very embarrassing for Eric Pickles. He’s been caught red-handed, scaremongering in the desperate search for a headline’.
On page 27, Pickles features again. In a somewhat scathing piece, the paper’s Chief Political Correspondent Michael Savage lives up to his name quoting a peer’s take on the so-called Go Home adverts currently being funded by the Home Office. These have led to more than 60 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, and are ‘nasty’ according to Lord Ouseley.
The paper’s France correspondent Adam Sage reports from Paris on Pyrenees farmers threatening to shoot the local population of brown bears after a spate of attacks on sheep. It seems there are around 22 of the rare creatures surviving in the wild. President Holland is seemingly under pressure to ‘bring in another bearbut‘, whatever that may mean.
Not one to disappoint those of a masturbatory disposition, The Times does of course have a Page 3 girl. In this weekend’s edition she is on page 41 hidden in the somewhat discreet World section of the paper. With a headline The Carnival is over, the lovely Luma de Oliveira bares her body for all to view!
the Edinburgh Festival has a new Eric and Ernie act
The Scotland Edition sports section covers cricket. With some quite breathtaking images and comment on cricket in England, the Sport pages headline with England slain by Lyon King. Hollywood perhaps or just the Aussies?
In other parts of the paper we read that Richard Wilson is gay and will only say I don’t believe it for charity, the Edinburgh Festival has a new Eric and Ernie act, and Roger Bushell was working for British Military Intelligence in Prague during 1942.
If you’ve ever seen The Great Escape you will, of course, know that Roger, AKA Big X, was shot dead by the Gestapo following a mass break out from Stalag Luft III during the Second World War. The Times, perhaps in a re-run of the Hitler Diaries fiasco, will be serialising a new book by Simon Pearson about the role Roger Bushell might just have played in the assassination of the acting Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia almost 70 years ago.
Damian Whitworth has penned the helpful lines, ‘Pearson writes that it is not possible to say that Bushell was involved in the plot, but establishing that he was among Prague’s resistance fighters at the time places him tantalisingly close’.
The Times Saturday Scotland Edition is a good read. On a scale of one to ten stars I think a score of six might be appropriate. Of course I am, as always, open to suggestions.
Next week in Something for the Weekend Sir? I will be taking a look at one of Scotland’s oldest family newspapers, The Sunday Post, the paper we prefer to send to friends around the globe rather than read.
‘Something for the weekend sir?’ is, of course, what local barbers used to ask customers in the days before discrete prophylactic services became available via the internet.
The Aberdeen Voice has received a letter from a Mr I. Aymin, a retired ostrich baron from the small town of Aberdeen in the Cambedoo Mountains in South Africa. As it is our stated policy to represent the people of Aberdeen regardless of race, creed, colour, religion or apparently, geography, we have decided (albeit with some misgivings) to publish his message as requested.
Hello, My fellow Aberdeensians!
Since retiring from the large poultry business following a severe head-kicking from a rogue bird, I have been taking a keen interest in the many ‘Aberdeens’ around the world (32 at last count).
As a form of remedial neurological therapy, I can heartily recommend it.
Thanks to our wonderful new internet service (admittedly intermittent), coupled with it’s (let us be truthful) unreliable translation software, I have become aware of your city’s gallant attempt to be named ‘City of Couture 2017’ and feel I should show my whole-hearted support for our sister city.
I have to admire this brave move on the part of your tribal elders since, having looked at street scenes of your Aberdeen, the majority of citizens seem to be dressed by Primark or JLM Sports. This, however, only serves to reinforce the respect I have for the people of Scotland.
Before my family moved here from Uganda my great-uncle President Idi often spoke of the time he spent in your beautiful land while receiving the military training he later put to such good use.
Indeed he so admired the pluck of a small country seeking independence that he offered himself to be crowned King of Scotland. (You missed a trick there, you Scotties, instead of resenting the English for all these years; you could have been eating them!).
I must apologise for that digression – my mind wanders, my head aches and I often find that I have been ‘napping’ unknowingly. That damned bird!
On refreshing my internet link I find that your fair city is hoping to be named ‘City of Cutlery 2017’.
I fear you will face stiff opposition from Sheffield! (I see the ostrich hoof coming at me in my dreams!)
Looking again at pictures of all the new and planned architecture of your city – the office buildings, hotels and shopping malls – I have little doubt that you will be successful and you shall indeed be named ‘City of Clutter 2017’.
- Best Wishes, I Aymin (rtd.)
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With thanks to Stuart Maltman, Secretary, Aberdeen SPSC.
Mahmoud Sarsak is to speak at a meeting of Aberdeen Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) At the Quaker Meeting House on Friday
Mahmoud Sarsak was a member of the Palestinian national football team who was seized by Israeli troops, held without charge and tortured over many weeks in Israel’s notorious prison system.
After three years, i.e. six ‘democratic and lawful’ periods of six months imprisonment without trial or charge, Mahmoud went on hunger strike to demand that he be given prisoner-of-war status since he was being detained under Israel’s Unlawful Combatants Law.
He refused to accept exile to Norway as a condition for his release and, near death at half his usual body weight, Israel released him unconditionally.
Aberdeen SPSC will be hosting Mahmoud at the Quaker Meeting House where he will be raising awareness of Israeli’s war against Palestinian football, the torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s gulag, and the role of multi-national G4S in running parts of Israel’s illegal programme.
He will also be raising the cases of two players of the Palestinian national football team, Omar Abu Rouis and Mohammed Nemer who have been imprisoned for over a year now in Israel’s dungeons without any trial or charges being levelled against them.
This is my third article on Libya over the seven month period of the ‘revolution’.
The reason that I have written these articles is the general silence and passive acceptance that has taken place on developments in Libya as they have unfolded, and my wish to raise awareness.
I am also greatly concerned in a period when we should have learnt from world wars and numerous conflicts across the world that war is not the solution and leads to untold misery.
Yet war has become our most favoured form of foreign intervention. My intention had been to leave writing a further article until a new government was formed however the atrocities that have taken place at the end revolution have led me to writing the present article. I realise much of what I report goes against what many people have come to believe, but feel it essential to report on what I have read.
My previous arguments have been that rather than relying solely on military intervention, negotiations should have taken place with the prerequisite that elections were held under the auspices of the United Nations. Everyone could have had a say regarding the future of Libya: including those who supported Qaddafi’s green movement who have been effectively disenfranchised.
The African Union and Venezuela offered to broker negotiations and Qaddafi and the then Libyan government on frequent occasions wanted to have a cease fire and negotiations. I also argued that all those responsible for torture and war crimes whether Qaddafi’s regime, NATO or the revolutionary militias should be put before an international court for their crimes.
On the 4th February following International pressure the International Criminal Court have stated that they will be investigating war crimes perpetuated by Qaddafi Loyalists, the National Transitional Government and NATO. Interestingly this has not been reported in the British media but is whatever a significant step forward in terms of justice
If you do nothing else please watch the following video.
Journalist Lizzie Phelan was in Tripoli before during and after its fall. She explains the support for Qaddafi including a 1.7 million demonstration in Tripoli in support of Qaddafi in July, of an entire population of around five million in Libya.
She also reports on how the media was falsely reporting, the democratic nature of Qaddafi’s regime, how many women took up arms and of mass murder by NATO. Have a look on You Tube and compare footage of the numbers demonstrating for Qaddafi and those for the revolutionary fighters.
Seamus Milne in the Guardian has argued that intervention by the West rather than saving public lives has in fact increased deaths at least tenfold. Off course we can never know what might have happened if the then Libyan Government tanks had reached Benghazi. What we do know is that in towns that Qaddafi’s troops did retake, reprisals if any were minimal.
We also know that that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that there have been considerable reprisals by the Revolutionary militias as well as the deaths inflicted by NATO bombing. Estimates of those killed range from 10,000 to 50,00 with many more injured in a population of around five million.
Amnesty International has evidence of mass abduction and detention, beating and routine torture, killings and atrocities carried out by the revolutionary militias. Human rights watch have identified a number of mass graves and discovered 53 bodies with hands tied of Qaddafi fighter’s, some who had clearly been in hospital, near to the hotel used by Qaddafi loyalists just before he was he was murdered. In Sirte over 500 fighters and civilians were killed in the last ten days
There was knowledge by the revolutionary militia and NATO, as evidenced by militia fighters speaking on the BBC that Qaddafi was in Sirte in the last few days of fighting.
Two weeks after the death of Qaddafi the British Government is already planning to send a delegation to Libya to sell arms.
The statement by NATO that they did not now that Gaddafi was in the 80 strong convoy that was bombed while trying to escape Sirte was almost certainly untrue, as was the assertion that the bombings and drone attacks was done to protect civilians as they were fleeing not attacking anyone.
A reporter on the BBC said the carnage was horrific.
What I believe has happened has been a concerted attempt by the revolutionary militias and NATO to destroy Qaddafi’s Green movement supporters in Libya so that they cannot become a force in a future Libya. Mustafa Abdel Jalil the National Transitional Council Chairman and previously Qaddafi’s Justice Minister tried to put the blame of Qaddafi’s death onto Qaddafi’s own snipers despite the horrendous mobile footage that was published on the net all over the world.
Peter Boukaret the head of Human Rights Watch in Libya has seen revolutionary militias burning homes in Tawerga where the majority of people were black Libyans who were seen as supporters of the Qaddafi regime, so that they can never return to their home town.
Under International law combatants should be released at the end of a civil war but the Washington Post has reported that 1,000 Qaddafi loyalists are packed in dingy jails and have faced abuse and even torture. Amnesty International have criticised the EU for leaving 5,000 Sub-Saharan refugees camped in appalling conditions on Libya’s border
Will Self on the BBC has pointed out that arms are still being sold to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco who have equally poor human rights records. He also pointed out that arms on both sides of the Libyan conflict were supplied by Britain. Two weeks after the death of Qaddafi the British Government is already planning to send a delegation to Libya to sell arms.
It could be suggested that it was in the interests of Western Leaders for Qaddafi not to live as at any court hearing he could have informed the world of the arms and human rights deals brokered with the likes of Sarkozy and Blair.
The future of Libya is most certainly in the balance. Abel Hakim Belhaj kidnapped by MI6 and tortured in Libya is threatening legal action against the UK Government, and who is the leader of the militias in Tripoli, has already warned that they will not be taking orders from the National Transitional Council.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil Chairperson of the National Transitional council’s attempts to mollify the Islamic militias is to say that a future state will be based in Shariah law and that polygamy not allowed previously in Libya would be allowed.
The intervention in Libya was never about saving civilians.
This in itself would suggest that women’s role in Libya will take a considerable backward step. Kevin Rudd the Australian Foreign minister has warned that Libya could become another Iraq. There could well be further conflict before any elections take place.
What I would conjecture is that though there will be on-going violence, it is more likely that what will happen is that elections will eventually take place and the winners will be those that are sympathetic to the west. However as corruption increases as in Afghanistan and many people’s living standards fall, that within ten years the Islamic parties as the only alternative will gain electoral or even military victory.
One factor not reported in our media is that Qaddafi through the African Union and with other Middle Eastern states had been pushing for a new currency – the Gold Dinar. This would have been a threat to the Euro and the Dollar. This would have soon come into effect and would have enriched African countries and had a negative effect on western countries. This in itself was a major reason as to why they wanted to get rid of Qaddafi as he had large stocks of gold.
Britain’s new defence secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC:
”I would expect British Companies to be packing their suitcases for Libya”
UK trade and Investment a British Government body has estimated that oil, gas and reconstruction works will be worth over 320 billion dollars over the next ten years.
Daniel Kaczynski a conservative MP and Chair of the parliamentary Libyan committee who has written extensively on Qaddafi and who has been a major influence on British Policy on Libya has suggested that Libya pay back the costs of British military intervention. Previous to the revolution the majority of contracts were going to Russia and China.
There are already significant land and property claims being made by Libyans who lost their property under Qaddafi this will have a significant knock on effect pushing those who have lived in the property and land into poverty
The intervention in Libya was never about saving civilians. It has been about regime change and a grab for lucrative resources and ending Qaddafi’s nearly met aim of creating a Gold Dinar as an alternative currency to threaten the Euro and the Dollar.
In carrying out this policy the revolutionary militias aided extensively by NATO have carried out and continue to carry out genocide of ideological nature against those many Libyans who continued to support Qaddafi.
In June of this year I wrote an article on the situation in Libya called ‘Libya another Brutal Conflict’.
In it I suggested a way forward would have been via negotiations, which would include the expectation for fair elections run by the United Nations, the withdrawal of NATO and the use of UN peacekeepers.
Qaddafi would have been forced to face his opposition but in a non-bloody way. Only if such negotiations failed would military action be considered.
The mantra regarding the war on Iraq was ‘weapons of mass destruction’; this proved to be a lie. The mantra in relation t oLibya has been ‘the defence of innocent civilians’. This, as the conflict has escalated, has proved clearly not to be the real objective. Investigations by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and a UN commission headed by the legal scholar Cheri Bassioni found there was no evidence of the atrocity stories which were given as the reasons for NATO action.
Yet this was not listened to by our politicians and was not widely reported by the media. What has clearly happened is a mission of regime change which went far beyond the UN mandate. Such developments were opposed by the US Congress and never properly debated in our own Parliament.
Rather than protecting civilians, NATO weapons have inevitably killed them.
Their targets increasingly widened from attacking tanks that were moving towards Benghazi, to attacking all Libyan Military installations, to attacking any building that was seen as supporting the Gaddafi administration.
Inevitably there were civilian casualties. On the day of the rebel attack on Tripoli, more bombs were dropped than on any other day in NATO’s history. The rebels were also being supported and trained by troops from NATO countries, and as evidenced by the Sunday Times, some were Libyan exiles living in the UK. This has led to an even more bitter war between the ‘rebels and Kaddafi loyalists with disastrous human consequences.
The hospitals are not coping and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are reporting human rights violations on all sides. Human Rights Watch consider that the evidence suggests that the old governments Khamis Brigade killed 45 detainees. The horrors of what happened to Kaddafi troops and the disappearance of all the medical staff at Abu- Salim hospital is just unfolding as are other atrocities, but these are only the most heavily reported incidents.
We never seem to learn the lesson of the horrors that war can bring.
Richard Seymour in the Guardian reported on Peter Bouckaert from Human Rights Watch findings that he had not identified one mercenary among scores of men being arrested and falsely labelled as such by journalists. Many Libyans are black but have been labelled as black mercenaries from Africa and led to racist incidents.
Qaddafi’s regime became increasingly oppressive over time
On top of this, much of the country’s infra-structure has been destroyed. The Libyan Transitional Council estimate it will take ten years to repair the damage done to the country’s infrastructure.
So what is the future for Libya? It is almost certain that Qaddafi will be eventually defeated, but how long that takes and at what continuing human cost is still to be seen. Worryingly, anyone supporting Qaddafi will not be seen as a civilian but as a supporter of a mad and dangerous dictator. The rebels are not a united force. The National Transitional Council has been recognised by over 40 foreign states; however, has it been recognised by the militias on the ground?
Abul Fatah Younes, the leader of the Rebel army, was murdered by one of the Islamic militias and this in turn led to the sacking of the whole cabinet by Musta Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Government.
Will this Government be able to rule or will fighting continue between the various factions, in particular those aligned to a more Islamic agenda and those not? These groupings are now highly armed and as our policies did in Afghanistan, they could easily come back to bite western interests. Atiyha Abdl al Rahman, the deputy leader of Al-Qaida who was killed by US drones in Pakistan, was Libyan.
Qaddafi’s regime became increasingly oppressive over time. In his early years as a revolutionary leader, he was involved in pulling down prisons. Being active himself over the years led to the atrocities that more recently took place of Islamists in Libyan prisons. Hopefully human rights will improve, but that has yet to be seen, and Libya was far from being the only country which has tortured and killed the more extreme Islamists.
Any new government will still have to find ways of dealing with Islamic groups and could end up being equally oppressive.
The Qaddafi regime was oppressive to its enemies, they did however have the highest social indicators in the Third World with better housing, health care and standards of living than in other Middle East and third world countries. As with Iraq these social strengths and the resulting effects on the countries well-being are sure to decline particularly if conflict continues.
Libya was not a country in debt, but it is now, and like us it will have to become beholden to the banks for money borrowed to rebuild the country. Who will own the huge reserves held in foreign banks which were there in part to deal with Libya’s future when the oil stocks have gone?
This has caused considerable indignation on the African continent.
Libya has historically produced 1.5 to 2 million barrels of oil a day. Qaddafi was hated by the west for nationalising Libyan oil and though he has more recently been co-operating with Western firms he has still been directing considerable investment into the economy and saving for its future.
Any new government will, unless clearly Islamic, be beholden to the West, and as such oil is almost certain to be obtained by the West more cheaply; the cost of oil on the markets has already gone down. Libya will also likely have military NATO bases for any future developments in the Middle East.
The poorer Libyans will, I suspect, be those who will be the most badly affected but others will gain and disparities in wealth will increase to the overall detriment of the country. Hopefully human rights will improve, but that has yet to be seen. Qaddafi was supportive of women’s involvement in society and was one of the reasons that he opposed so strongly the more extreme tenants of Islam and its supporters in Libya.
The future for women could go either way, but is certain to cause tension in the new Libya.
Qaddafi was instrumental in setting up the African Union and financially supported African infrastructure projects. The West, unless replaced by Chinese interests, will now have greater control over the African continent. However despite for instance South Africa supporting Resolution 1973 which led to intervention in Libya, their and other African countries attempts through the African Union to set up peace talks were knocked back. This has caused considerable indignation on the African continent.
overall spending on wars leads to fewer resources to be spent on other areas
Due to the way that NATO overstepped the UN resolution, there is now reluctance by many countries to do anything in Syria or the other Middle East countries. Damage has been done to International relations and the workings of the United Nations due to NATO’s actions.
Why have we, and why are we continuing to arm dictatorships in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, etc. which are oppressive to their people? In fact, why are we arming any country? All armaments have the potential for use both between warring countries and on countries own citizens. Yet selling more arms is a key target of the present UK Government.
The selling of arms does lead to profit and work for those involved and money for Government. However overall spending on wars leads to fewer resources to be spent on other areas and in the United Kingdom, France and the United States it will lead to increased cuts in public services which will affect us all, but in particular the more vulnerable people in our society.
The United Nations was set up to try and stop wars between countries. Libya had not invaded another country.
The intervention was, however, based around the doctrine of ‘the responsibility to protect’ following The Rwandan genocide. The way NATO has acted by clearly taking sides in Libya has brought this doctrine into disrespect. The press in the UK have in the main been heralding the success of the Libyan intervention, but if you dig deeper this can only be questioned.
The United Nations needs itself to have increased power to stop the manipulation that has clearly taken place around the Libyan conflict.
So what can we do?
We can protest.Stop the War and CND are holding an anti-war rally on October 8th to mark 10 years of military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya. The demonstrations against the Iraq war may not have stopped the war but they did shake the establishment and led in part to the downfall of Tony Blair
We can support the United Nations associations to help make this a stronger organisation that gets back to its original basis for existing
We can protest against our pension funds being invested in the arms trade as is in the case of Aberdeen City Councils pension fund.
Campaign Against the Arms Trade ( CAAT ) will be holding their yearly demonstration on September 13th in London. ‘ Cut the Arms Trade not public services’. Please see: Stop the War or CAAT website.
The situation in Libya is complex and an understanding requires a historical perspective and the realisation that Libya is a tribal society which has many tribal and political interests. Gaddafi when he took power in Libya in 1969, in a bloodless coup, nationalised the oil and took it away from Western Control.
He used the money gained to invest in the social structure, i.e. health, education and social housing in Libya.
Gaddafi became involved in supporting’ Liberation’ wars in Africa and Ireland and this along with the Lockerbie tragedy led to sanctions and to initial bombings by the US in 1986. Sanctions led to a decline in the wealth of Libya and In the late 90’s Gaddafi changed his policy to the West due to the effects of these sanctions and to his even greater dislike of fundamentalist Islam in the form of Al Qaida and the Taliban. Libya was returned into the international fold and welcomed warmly by our own Prime Minister at the time Tony Blair.
Gaddafi admits that he has carried out human rights violations and torture on his opposition in particular to those linked to Al Qaida, to whom he is strongly opposed and for this he should, like any other abuser of human rights, be prosecuted. Al Qaida has had a strong following in Libya and Libyans were the largest grouping of fighters within Al Qaida in Iraq.
Gaddafi says he got his lead on the use of torture from the United States and if he is to be tried for human rights and war crimes so should lots of other national leaders and all those affiliated to NATO.
Gaddafi was instrumental in setting up the African Union and has helped in the development of infrastructure projects in Africa. According to the United Nations, Libya until the present conflict had the best social indicators in the Third World. Gaddafi has promoted the equality of women and is opposed to the backward attitude of most of the Arab world in relation to their attitudes towards women. Gaddafi did instigate his own form of democracy very similar to Soviet Style Workers committees and had no formal position as head of state. In reality he has been at the head of the country and has increasingly been concerned about hanging on to power.
Gaddafi is a complex man who has done both good and bad but the media portrayal of an evil dictator is to say the least over simplistic This does not mean that his desire to hold onto power has not led to an over controlling and oppressive state but it does mean that our response to him should be more balanced particularly when you compare Libya to other regimes in the Middle East which are equally repressive but also have greater disparities in wealth. There have been reports of Gaddafi’s troops having been involved with rape in Misrata a common occurrence in war which is barbaric and unacceptable.
The United Nations staff, on the ground in Libya say there is no hard evidence of this. However a spokesperson from the International Court on war crimes say they have evidence that systematic rape is being used by the Gaddaffi regime. This clearly needs further investigation before any firm conclusion can be reached.
Libya is a tribal society and the West of the country has benefited more than the East.
The bombings were aimed at stopping a humanitarian disaster yet where has the outcry been about those supporters of Gaddafi tortured and killed
Gaddafi clearly has his opponents but these are a mixture of Western sympathisers including those who want more democracy and those who follow Al Qaida. The majority of leadership of the Rebels in Banghazi is presently made up of ex Libyan Government ministers who previously had no interest in Western Democracy but are defecting as they see the imminent collapse of the regime.
A significant number of the more experienced of those fighting for the revolution gained their military skills fighting for Al Qaida in Iraq and are to be feared by many of those who support Gaddafi. Getting rid of Gaddafi is not likely to lead to a peaceful democratic Libya but is much more likely to lead to greater internal division and continued violence.
The oil is to be found in the East of the country.
The eastern leaders have already agreed to give oil contracts to the West. The bombings were aimed at stopping a humanitarian disaster yet where has the outcry been about those supporters of Gaddafi tortured and killed, the killings and general plight of African Workers and to the casualties of NATO bombings? Why has Libya been selected for this type of intervention when the evidence is that equally bad oppression is taking place in other Middle Eastern countries.
Libya compared with most countries had only a small army and arms sales to Saudi Arabia – an equally oppressive state – are far greater. From 2008 until the last quarter of 2010 arms sales to Saudi Arabia from the UK were three times less than those to Libya.
War is always brutal and people always suffer on all sides, yet it appears to have become the norm to intervene in this way rather than to find ways forward via negotiation. This policy of military intervention has been used to disastrous effect in Iraq, Afghanistan Pakistan and Palestine.
The only beneficiaries of these conflicts are the arms companies burgeoning profits. Ordinary people on the ground pay for war by the murder or mutilation of their loved ones. Why were the attempts by the African Union and Venezuela to act as an intermediary for negotiations in the Libyan conflict so easily turned down? Nor any other attempts to broker negotiations put in place? Surely all forms of negotiation should have tried before the policy of protecting civilians turned into a military intervention aimed at regime change at any cost.
The cost of this action and the resulting likely cries for more military spending will lead to even greater cuts in our own social spending
NATO has moved from a position of ‘protecting civilians’ to regime change and is in effect putting many civilian lives in jeopardy.
This policy has never been sanctioned by our own Parliament and does not fit with the United Nations own charter as Libya has not invaded another country.
Our own Prime Minister, who was caught promoting the sale of arms to Middle East dictators at the beginning of the Middle East uprisings, has with his ally President Sarkozy of France been the main instigators of this military Intervention in Libya and have in many ways replaced Bush and Blair as the main instigators of military intervention in other states. President Obama initially hesitated but – as has sadly become his style – eventually taken a hawkish position in Foreign policy.
The results of these actions have lead to more civilian casualties and to the destruction of buildings and infrastructure and to the loss of social gains. The cost of this action and the resulting likely cries for more military spending will lead to even greater cuts in our own social spending. The United States spent over £750 million on the conflict in its first few weeks. In the UK the corresponding figure currently stands at around £300 million and it is forecasted that this will rise to one billion by September.
One factor that has got lost is that when Libya’s Foreign Secretary Moussa Koussa was interviewed by the Scottish police in relation to the Lockerbie bombings, yet we have heard nothing of these interviews.
Surely if he had evidence of Libya’s involvement this would have been given huge publicity and given as a justification for military action. Dr Jim Swire has warned against any evidence from defectors being taken seriously as they have interests of self-preservation. There is still significant concern about the correctness of the present verdict regarding the Lockerbie bombing
We appear to have become numb to the use of brutal military action by our own Government and have fallen for the media’s over-simplistic justification of getting rid of a mad and brutal dictator. NATO has extended it’s timescale for operations and calls from South Africa are going unheeded. Al Jazeera has shown footage of Western troops West of Misrata yet one of the main points of the UN Security Council was to exclude foreign involvement on the ground.
I believe that a negotiated settlement should be sought with the clear aim of setting up elections. It would then be up to all the Libyan people to decide on their future. All bombings by NATO should stop while negotiations take place. One of the main demands of the UN Security council resolution was for a cease fire. Given any ceasefire it should be United Nations Peacekeeping forces that should be put on the ground not NATO troops that are on the ground.
All those responsible for war crimes and torture should be tried at the International War Crimes court.