October 21, 2011

Libya: a victory for who?


Sounds of victory all over the place because of the death of Gadafi. But victory for who or for what? Democracy and peace? Allow me to doubt...

To stay in line with the title of this new blog, let me offer you some excerpts of an article written by research Pieter D. Wezeman in the beginning of the UN strikes in Libya.

"The United Nations Security Council has responded to the violence in Libya with remarkable speed and determination. (...) The swiftness of the decisions and their wide international support distinguishes the Libyan response from earlier failed attempts to quickly enforce broad UN sanctions to protect civilians from political violence. For example, in 2007 and 2008 the Security Council could not agree on sanctions against Zimbabwe and Myanmar in response to human rights abuses. (...)

Prior UN and European Union (EU) sanctions on Libya including arms embargoes were lifted in 2003 and 2004, after Libya announced that it had ended its nuclear, biological and chemical weapon programmes and had agreed to compensate the families of those who died in Libyan acts of terrorism. Libya’s return to the international community was welcomed owing to its oil resources, its geographical position as a buffer against unwanted migration from Africa to Europe and its potential role in fighting al-Qaeda related groups.

However, part of the process of inclusion was acceptance of Libya as a buyer of arms, which has implicated the supplier countries in the sustained oppressive military rule. After more than a decade of being cut off from arms supplies, Libya was expected to spend billions of dollars to modernize parts of its large arsenal of outdated arms. In anticipation to a lucrative market, many companies eagerly competed to supply arms to the wealthy state. In November 2010 the Libdex 2010 arms fair in Tripoli reportedly attracted 100 companies from at least 24 countries. Such sales efforts were often politically supported, with the leaders of France, Italy, Russia and the United Kingdom visiting Libya accompanied by representatives of arms companies. Competing with several EU countries, Russia laboured to sell combat aircraft and advanced S-300 long-range air defence systems and clinched deals for the overhaul of tanks and fast attack craft.

Despite EU embargoes and arms supply restrictions having been imposed following human rights abuses in, for example, China, Myanmar and Zimbabwe, several EU states have until now seemingly overlooked Gaddafi’s 41-year track record as an authoritarian and unpredictable ruler with a well-documented lack of respect for human rights. (...)

In 2009 an Italian company supplied about 10 000 handguns, and authorities in Belgium allowed the supply of a first small batch of high-tech rifles. The latter argued that the weapons were intended for use by Libyan troops protecting humanitarian aid convoys to Darfur. The UK did not allow an arms dealer to export 130 000 Kalashnikov rifles because of the risk that they would be diverted to Darfur, but it allowed the marketing of sniper rifles to Libya."

Yes indeed, the memory of our past seems to fade quite quickly, once again. Certainly when new arms, oil and other deals are so near in the future - or even the present.

Click here to read the full article of Wezeman

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