22 August 2011
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The fall of the Gadaffi regime in Libya marks yet another turning point in what
has been a truly remarkable year in the Middle East. The victory of the rebels,
backed by Nato bombing in a six month campaign initiated by the British and
French governments, also heralds the rehabilitation of a discredited doctrine
-- that of 'humanitarian intervention' -- after the debacle of Iraq and

The defeat of Gadaffi is now being used to justify military action on the
grounds that it has helped the Arab revolutions. David Cameron declared outside
Downing Street 22 August 2011, 'This has not been our revolution, but we can be
proud that we have played our part.'

The hypocrisy of Cameron is staggering, given the role of British and other
western governments in backing up dictators and despots in the region -- only
halted in some places by the actions of the Arab people themselves. 

The Nato intervention has not been for idealistic values. It has been about
regime change, so that a leader more acceptable to western governments and
business could replace Gadaffi.

Right to the end, NATO was bent on a military victory and bringing the
Transitional National Council (TNC) -- the Benghazi administration -- to power
in Libya by force of arms. All proposals for talks to achieve a political
solution – whether from within Libya or outside - have been brushed aside.

While many Libyans may welcome the outcome, and will be glad to see the back of
Gadaffi, it has a number of negative aspects. 

From the international point of view, the most significant thing is that the
government of another Arab state has been changed by external force applied by
the big imperial powers. There is no real suggestion that the TNC could have
come to power unaided. The NATO military intervention, stretching beyond
breaking point the mandate given by the United Nations, has been decisive.

This will not be the end of the story. The experience of Iraq teaches that the
overthrow of a regime under such circumstances by no means signifies the end of
the war. Whether those who have supported Gadaffi will meekly accept the
authority of a new government imposed under such circumstances is open to

Whatever happens, the deep divisions within Libyan society remain. Likewise,
given that the TNC is an amalgam of forces, ranging from the democratic to the
Islamist to leaders who are the direct employees of western interests, it may
have neither the capacity to resolve existing differences nor the ability to
prevent the emergence of new ones, within its own ranks.

David Cameron spelt out the close role Britain and the other western powers
will expect to have in running Libya, and in how much detail they have been
planned, including ‘stabilisation experts who have been planning for this
moment…for months.’

Under these circumstances, the main demand must be an end to all forms of NATO
interference in Libya – not just the end of the bombing, but the withdrawal
of special forces and a halt to all forms of political interference. The only
solution to the crisis in Libya will have to be a Libyan solution. Recent
history, from Iraq to Afghanistan, teaches that too.

But beyond that, we must recognise the danger that even a passing 'success' in
Libya may embolden the US, British and French governments to believe that the
idea of 'liberal interventionism', discredited after Iraq, can be revived on a
broader scale. Of course, however it ends the Libyan conflict has not gone as
expected and none of the leaders of the aggression have dared introduce ground
troops into the war. Nevertheless, the danger of extending the intervention to
Syria as part of a programme to control and suppress the 'Arab Spring' is not
inconceivable and must be mobilised against.

The old rulers will not be missed if and when they depart. The decisive issues
– genuinely democratic and popular regimes across the Arab world, the
exclusion of great power interference in the region and justice for the
Palestinian people – remain in the balance and require our solidarity.

LINDSEY GERMAN, National Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
ANDREW MURRAY, National Chair, Stop the War Coalition-- 



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