Thursday, August 25, 2011

Libya's imperial hijacking is a threat to the Arab revolution

Only when those who fought Gaddafi force Nato to leave will Libyans be able to take control of their country

Seumas Milne, Wednesday 24 August 2011

"They don't give up. For the third time in a decade, British and US forces have played the decisive role in the overthrow of an Arab or Muslim regime. As rebel forces pressed home their advantage across Libya under continuing Nato air support , politicians in London and Paris preened themselves on their role as the midwives of a "new Libya".

It's all supposed to be different this time, of course. The lessons of the west's blood-drenched occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are said to have been learned: no boots on the ground, UN backing, proper planning and Libyans in the lead. But the echoes of Baghdad and, even more, Kabul have been eerie – and not only in the made-for-TV images of the sacking of compounds and smashing of statues, or the street banners hailing Nato leaders.....

Since the Arab revolution despatched two western-backed dictators in quick succession at the start of the year, there has been a three-pronged drive by the west to bring it under control. In Egypt, US and Saudi money has been poured in to suborn it. In Bahrain, conservative Gulf states have been given support to crush the uprising by force. And in Libya, the western powers have attempted to hijack it, while channelling covert support to the brutally repressed opposition in Syria.

There are many in the region who now hope the fall of Gaddafi will give new momentum to the stalled Arab awakening, bringing down another autocrat, perhaps in Yemen. But the risk could instead be that it sends a message that regimes can only now be despatched with the armed support of Washington, London and Paris – available in the most select circumstances.

Nato's intervention in Libya is a threat to the Arab revolution, but the forces that have been unleashed in the region won't be turned back so easily. Many of those who have fought for power in Libya, including Islamists, clearly won't accept the dispensation that's been prepared for them. But only when Nato and its bagmen are forced to leave Libya can Libyans truly take control of their own country."

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