Nato’s shameless double talk
So after three months, Nato are still ‘protecting’ the poor, hapless, defenceless civilians in Libya? Is the protection of civilians Nato’s true objective, or are there some sinister motives that we are too naïve to suspect? Why are Nato so keen to effect a regime change in Libya? Why are they after Gaddafi’s head? These are some of the questions we need to ponder carefully as we witness the carnage taking place in that oil-rich country.
I am not a fan of Gaddafi’s. In fact, the man has few or no friends among his Middle East or African Union counterparts due to his outspokenness, maverick behaviour and fierce ambition to become the ‘King of Africa’. He is called a dictator, but let’s not be mistaken: he stands heads and shoulders above all the other dictators Africa has seen, for the right reasons. After overthrowing a corrupt monarchy in 1969, Gaddafi set about using revenue from the country’s oil resources (the largest in Africa) to modernise Libya, with the result that the country has the highest Human Development Index (HDI) in the whole of Africa.
Consider these facts: school enrolment rate is 98 per cent with a literacy rate of 82 per cent. Food is cheap and petrol is 15 cents a litre. Couples can take out an interest-free mortgage of $200,000. Forty six per cent of post-secondary students are female and scholarships are free. The country is solvent, has no national debt and has a state-owned central bank.
How many African dictators can match this achievement? The government planned to issue its own supported currency and fund a continental central bank. Plans for a United States of Africa were underway and agreement was reached with most of the countries to use the gold-backed dinar as the exchange currency for African oil.
We must not forget that the Tunisian uprising, from which other Arab nations have taken a cue, was triggered by a corrupt, insensitive government that had neglected the needs of its people. The same cannot be said of Libya. So apart from Gaddafi being in power for 42 years (far too long, I believe), and threatening to annihilate the insurgents, what other reason does Nato have wanting to effect regime change in Libya, and how many civilians has each side killed so far?
The UN Resolution 1973 that gave legal backing to the Nato intervention did not include regime change. Neither did it sanction Gaddafi’s elimination. Curiously, if Nato countries are so concerned with protecting civilians why are they turning a blind eye to the killings of defenceless protesters in Syria? Did they declare a no-fly zone over Bahrain, much more send their war-planes to bomb the Bahrain royal family into extinction? ‘So long as Gaddafi remains in power, Nato must maintain its operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds,’ Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy said in a recent article in the New York Times.
Therefore, to all intents and purposes, it appears Nato is seeking to effect a regime change to gain control of Libya’s oil. After destroying the country’s infrastructure and installing a puppet government the award of contracts to re-build the shattered infrastructure will follow. And who will get those contracts? Yes, companies from the Nato countries. With the contracts come supplies for equipment and services from those countries, that will translate into jobs for their people. Don’t forget most of the Nato nations are still coming out of recession.
It is sad that nobody can stop Nato even if they oppose their campaign in Libya. After acknowledging for the first time in the campaign that it may have caused multiple civilian casualties, cracks are opening inside the Nato alliance with Italy calling for suspension of hostilities against Gaddafi, but other members of the alliance have vowed to see it through.
It is clear that Nato is abusing Resolution 1973 to achieve their sole objective of regime change. South African President Jacob Zuma, who has visited Tripoli twice on behalf of the African Union (AU) since hostilities began in a bid to seek a solution to the conflict, says Nato has overstepped the resolution. ‘We have spoken out against the misuse of the good intentions in Resolution 1973 [and] strongly believe that the resolution is being abused for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation,’ he said after his last visit in May.
Even the outgoing head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, who played a central role in securing Arab support for the Nato campaign, has called for a ceasefire and talks about a political settlement while Gaddafi remains in office. Similarly, an African expert at the United States Naval War College, Jonathan Stevenson, has called on the US government to ‘embrace [AU’s] effort to resolve the Libyan conflict on African terms as a salutary attempt to take ownership of an African problem.’
All this has fallen on deaf ears because the Nato countries see the uprising as a golden opportunity to seize control the buoyant Libyan economy. But it is going to be a bridge too far.