The United States, Britain and France have launched a joint military assault on Libya, which came just days after a United Nations resolution imposing a ‘no-fly zone’ on the country.
The assault commenced on Saturday night [March 19] when over 100 cruise missiles were fired from US warships and submarines off the coast of Libya. According to reports, dozens of civilians have been killed as western powers move to impose regime change on a country that it held as a close ally until very recently.
US and British interference and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrates that the civilian population suffers most, as western powers, under the guise of protecting the civilian population seek to protect and advance their strategic and business interests in the region.
Declarations from western powers that the military strike against Libya is motivated solely by a desire to protect the civilian population cannot be taken seriously. Western imperialist powers have stood by as protestors in other countries in the region have been slaughtered. In Yemen, 40 protestors were shot dead by state forces, while the west’s closest ally in the region Saudi Arabia has swept into Bahrain, where martial law has been declared, in support of that country’s autocratic regime.
The brutal Saudi regime bans political parties, has declared protests ‘un-Islamic’ and continues to incarcerate almost 8,000 political prisoners. The Saudi’s so-called peace keeping force in Bahrain has besieged and machine gunned hospitals, where demonstrators are being treated for injuries sustained at the hands of state forces.
Yet, the continuing military offensive against the civilian population in Bahrain has met only with weasel words from US secretary of state Hilary Clinton who lamely stated, “We have made clear that security alone cannot resolve the challenges facing Bahrain.” The US also supported its Israeli ally, when its military bombarded Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, slaughtering over 1,400 Palestinians. There was no UN resolution imposing a ‘no fly zone’ to protect the civilian population of Palestine.
Just last October the Obama administration agreed an arms deal with the Saudi regime worth US$60 billion, which included the sale of 84 F-15 fighter jets; the upgrading of a further 70 older F-15s; and 200 new attack helicopters. At a press conference announcing details of the deal, Andrew Shapiro, US assistant secretary for political and military affairs, was clear about its purpose, which was to enhance the ability of the Saudis to “deter and defend threats to its oil structure, which is critical to our [US] economic interests”.
Under the deal, the US air force will train Saudi pilots to fly the F-15 jets and discussions are taking place to upgrade Saudi Arabia’s navy, worth an additional US$30bn. That attack helicopters are being used to machine gun hospitals treating pro-democracy protestors in Bahrain is unlikely to trouble the Obama regime. The Saudis, along with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, are also offering military support for the attack on Libya.
For the west, the blood of civilians is, after all, secondary to ensuring that the oil keeps flowing.
The British government is keen to ensure that BP maintains access to Libyan oil, while another major British oil corporation, Shell, reached a deal with the Libyan state oil company in 2005. This deal gave the oil giant access to explore for gas in five blocks covering 20,000 square kilometres in the Sirte Basin and would see it spending between US$105m and $450m on upgrading a Libyan gas plant and US$187m on exploration. While the British government expresses concern for the civilian population of Libya, it supplied missiles and air defence systems to the same regime under an agreement reached in 2007. The hypocrisy is astounding.
People power has toppled the dictatorships of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt; a former key ally of the west, who facilitated the US invasion of Iraq and the Israeli siege of Gaza. The wave of protests sweeping through the Middle East has unnerved the US, Britain and Israel.
eirigi supports the right of the people of Libya to determine their own future without interference from outside powers.
Establishment figures in Ireland are falling over themselves to welcome the announcement that US president Barack Obama will visit the Twenty-Six Counties in May. There has been a deathly silence from establishment political figures about Obama’s war mongering in Afghanistan, the use of US drones on the Pakistani border, which last week killed 40 civilians in Waziristan, his administration’s continued support for despotic regimes such as Saudi Arabia, the failure to close Guantanamo Bay, and the continued use of Shannon airport by the US military.
The slaughter of hundreds of thousands of civilians in a bloody war for oil in both Iraq and Afghanistan is a stark reminder of the human cost of the west’s imperial ambitions. While the west claims its purpose in bombing Libya is to defend the civilian population, it has stood by and supported Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Bahrain to defend that country’s despotic regime and attack pro-democracy demonstrators. Meanwhile, the fact that Yemen lacks oil means that the lives of the innocent of that country are of no concern to the western imperial powers.
The US, British and French military attack on Libya is quite simply another war for oil and should be opposed as such.