Saturday, 3 September 2011

Britain's "Ethical Foreign Policy" In Libya.

More information about the Britain's dealings with Gaddafi under Tony Blair has emerged into the public domain today.

'Secret files have been unearthed by The Independent in Tripoli that reveal the astonishingly close links that existed between British and American governments and Muammar Gaddafi.

The documents chart how prisoners were offered to the Libyans for brutal interrogation by the Tripoli regime under the highly controversial "rendition" programme, and also how details of exiled opponents of the Libyan dictator in the UK were passed on to the regime by MI6'.

So there it is. Britain's ethical foreign policy under Tony Blair-supporting dictatorship when it's strong enough to survive, colluding with CIA rendition and torture, oil deals for BP, giving information to Gaddafi about Libyan dissidents in Britain to enhance the oil interests.

Despite British Foreign Secretary William Hague's attempts to distance himself from the machinations of the New Labour government's involvement, even though the opposition then did not challenge this collusion with Gaddafi, the fact is that there is obvious continuity. As The Independent reports,

The revelations by The Independent will lead to questions about whether Mr Koussa, who has long been accused of human rights abuses, was allowed to escape because he held a 'smoking gun'. The official is known to have copied and taken away dozens of files with him when he left Libya.

When Koussa defected to Britain in April 2 2011, Hague made statements that he could be put on trial as demanded by the NTC. However, Koussa then left Britain soon after he had 'defected' again to Qatar by April 15.

Obviously, Koussa had no reason to return as he had been conveniently removed from a European Union sanctions list, This gave someone involved in torture free access to financial assets held in European banks. Not wanting him to reveal the truth of Britain and other states collusion with Gaddafi could have been part of that.

As the Independent article implies, the reason could have been to avoid bad "public diplomacy" about Britain's collusion with Gaddafi in the "war on terror".

The Tripoli regime was a highly useful partner in the 'rendition' process under which prisoners were sent by the US for 'enhanced interrogation', a euphemism, say human rights groups, for torture.

One US administration document, marked secret, says "Our service is in a position to deliver Shaykh Musa to your physical custody similar to what we have done with other senior LIFG (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) members in the past. We respectfully request an expression of interest from your service regarding taking custody of Musa".
The British too were dealing with the Libyans about opposition activists, passing on information to the regime. This was taking place despite the fact that Colonel Gaddafi's agents had assassinated opponents in the campaign to eliminate so-called "stray dogs" abroad, including the streets of London. The murders had, at the time, led to protests and condemnation by the UK government.

The supposed pragmatism in now trying to remove Gaddafi is more akin to the schizoid realpolitik of the sort Orwell lampooned in 1984.

Consistently until 2009 when Milliband opined that the 'war on terror' was a name to be dropped, Afghanistan was put forth as part of that. Long after 2004 when Gaddafi thought that he might be next for 'regime change' after Iraq and moved towards the West by cancelling a non-existent WMD programme.

The notion that the Arab Spring in Libya means that there is a possibility of a liberal democratic alternative to either secular dictatorship or Islamist dictatorship remains dubious.

Indeed, the Islamist Abdel-Hakim Belhaj who two years before in 2009 was the leader of the enemy, associated with Al Qaida, and who had been tortured by the CIA, as part of the 'war on terror 'now pops back up in 2011 as an important part of the NTC. So the SAS armed jihadists to finish of Gaddafi when two years before they were aiding him to combat them.

With the potential for breakdown of authority and a humanitarian crisis can it be seriously suggested that the Islamists will not try to stage a power grab ? Or that they won't turn against the West, as their ideology is similar to that of the Taliban ? The idea of a liberal secular democracy emerging to order is a fantasy.

The idea that governments can just change tack overnight almost and install pliant or friendly pro-Western governments is simply not realistic. There is no history of democracy in Libya. Outside a small circle of academics and city based liberals, it is the Islamists and nationalists who dominate.

If the NATO intervention was so pragmatic and founded on "enlightened self interest" how is it going to "pragmatically" extricate itself from a descent into further civil war and conflict if a stable government cannot be formed ? The cliched soundbite about "no boots on the ground" has already proved false, as evidenced by the presence of the SAS from the outset of the conflict.

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