Nothing like a good war to revive flagging poll ratings, as French president Nicholas Sarkosy has found. Knocking out a tyrant’s tanks is good press, as long as people don’t remember that a few weeks ago the French president was cheering the Tunisian dictator, Ben Ali, as he shot down peaceful demonstrators. Embarrassingly for Sarkosy, Ben Ali soon fell.
You don’t have to be too cynical to think the French, British and American attacks on Gaddafi’s forces have more to do with oil than democracy. All three governments are happy to back dictators, as long as they are “stable” dictators, like the Saudi King Abdullah. As long as the oil keeps flowing there will be no criticism of the ruthless Saudi regime, which just ten days ago sent troops to Bahrain to help crush the democracy movement there.
Many people were conned into supporting the Western military involvement on the basis that it was just creating a “no-fly zone”. Now we find that it is a comprehensive air war against all of Gaddafi’s armed forces, and any government building that can be defined as a “command and control centre”. Western leaders specifically don’t rule out ground operations or the assassination of Gaddafi.
UN Resolution 1973 has been taken as a mandate for Western imposed regime change, which is why most of the world (including most Arab people) have pulled back from giving full endorsement. As I said in
my speech in Parliament’s General Debate yesterday
“The problem with foreign interventions bent on regime change is that the results are unpredictable, and can be very bad, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. More bloodshed followed when the United States brought about regime change in those two countries and installed compliant leaders.”
I said in
another speech to Parliament (on Tuesday)
: “It is also possible that the attacks by foreign forces could strengthen the dictator Gaddafi’s base of support as he pushes the message to Libyans that the attacks are coming from the Western powers which have traditionally been seen as hostile to Arab causes in Palestine and elsewhere.”
The Green Party is consistent in its support for all democratic struggles in the Middle East. We support the sanctions the international community has imposed on Gaddafi’s regime, and we are not against giving arms to the Libyan rebels. But it is much better if the process of change is owned by the people themselves, as is happening neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt. This is a better and more effective path to democracy than one brought about by planes or invading forces from Western nations.