by rahnuma ahmed
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s forty one-year reign has witnessed phenomenal shifts, after coming to power through a military coup in 1969, his anti-imperialist position?expressed through lending political and material support to various national liberation movements around the world (the Palestinian cause, alleged connection to the killing of Israeli athletes in 1972 Munich Olympics)?gradually gave way to embracing neo-liberalism toward the end of the last century.
In other words, from being a “terrorist rogue state” Gaddafi’s Libya became a “neoliberal client.” (Peter Boyle, Libya: How Gaddafi became a Western-backed dictator, Mathaba, 26.2.2011). ?The first had led to economic sanctions, to bombing raids ordered by US president Ronald Reagan aimed at assassinating Gaddafi. He survived. Those who didn’t are: his 15-month old adopted daughter, 45 Libyan soldiers and government officials, 15 civilians.
The second led to the development of close and personal friendship with many western leaders. Tony Blair’s relationship with Gaddafi was described by the latter’s son Saif, as being “excellent.” He has come to Libya many, many times. He stays with my father (Daily Mail, June 2010). ?While Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s relationship was described by some as a “slavish courtship” (Flavia Krause-Jackson, Berlusconi’s `Slavish’ Courtship of Qaddafi Haunts Italy, Bloomberg, February 23, 2011). ?In June 2009, Berloscuni shut down Rome’s biggest park to allow Gaddafi and his entourage of all-female bodyguards to set up camp. Beside Libya’s investment in Italian companies (Fiat SpA, UniCredit SpA, Juventus soccer team), beside Italy’s reliance on Libya for a quarter of its crude oil, Italy, according to the European Union’s latest annual report on arms export (2009), tops the list in Libya’s military suppliers in Europe, worth 112 million euros. Britain ranks fifth with 25.5 million euros (Report exposes Italy and Malta as top EU arms exporters to Libya, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 23, 2011).
Was it this, Italy’s business ties with Libya, which led Berloscuni to not call Gaddafi after 4 days of protests? To say that he did not want to “disturb” Gaddafi?
David Cameron, British prime minister, however, was critical of his predecessor’s relationship with Gaddafi. It had been “too close.” It did not have “clear parameters.” These “should have been in place” when the relationship began (James Kirkup, Libya: Tony Blair ‘too close’ to Gaddafi regime, David Cameron claims, The Telegraph, 23 Feb 2011).
Continue reading “`The Opportunity of a Century.' Western Military Intervention in Libya?”