Friday, May 27, 2011


Wednesday  May 25th 2011

Sudan’s Omar Bashir

Exchanging Devils

By Hameed Abdul Karim

‘La Idris – Na’am Iblis’ was the cry that precipitated King Idris’ overthrow from the throne of Libya. What the slogan meant was ‘no to Idris – yes to the devil’. It was a catchy slogan as slogans go, like Indira Gandhi’s clarion call ‘Garibi Hatao’ (eliminate poverty). But as Sheikh Hamza Hanson pointed out, you got to be careful of what you ask. See what the Libyans got in Colonel Gaddafi. It looks like as if their prayers had been answered.

A similar situation faces Libya today as the nation stands at yet another crossroad of its troubled and contradictory history.

King Idris was as pro-Western as you would expect. Under his reign the British enjoyed whopping trade concessions and the Americans had their Wheelus Air Base from where they watched and controlled the whole of Africa. Wheelus Base came to be called ‘Little America’ and the US dollar was the currency in the sprawling base which was more like a city.

King Idris, on orders from his superiors in Whitehall and Washington, conducted a purge against Jordanians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Syrians and even took the side of the British when Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal. Things were going well for the Western imperialists until Muammar Gaddafi came in and spoilt it all for them.  King Idris was the West’s CEO, very much like Hosni Mubarak.

Gaddafi’s ‘Faults’

Muammar Gaddafi’s faults are many. One of his ‘faults’ was that he was independent of the West, especially the US Empire and contributed immensely towards African economic development and spoke up for Palestine, though, in his annoying eccentric way.  He kept clear of the international banking system and to this day Libya is not a creditor to the IMF or World Bank, like many other countries. This ‘fault’ of his is fairly justified considering that the Euro took a downward trip when the IMF’s head was indicted with sexual abuse of a maid in a posh hotel. How do you explain an economic system that gets affected because of an incident like that? The US dollar didn’t go down during Monica Levinsky’s brief rein in the Oval office. But the NYSE went down when the Taliban destroyed Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation only to shoot up when the Americans kicked out the Taliban and their friends in Afghanistan started to grow poppy again.  What kind of economic system is this? 

Another ‘fault’ of Gaddafi was that he asked for gold in payment for oil. Saddam Hussein wanted to trade in Euro and look what the Empire did to him. The message is clear. Insolence or independence will not be tolerated. Incidentally Libya – or a part of it – is now co-opted into the global banking system with the ‘rebels’ or ‘pro-democracy forces’ (take your pick) now selling oil from their ‘stronghold’ in Benghazi.

Western Hypocrisy

Sudan’s Omar Bashir serves as a clear example of how being obedient to the Empire can help an oppressive leader. No sooner had he agreed to give in to Western demands to divide his country than he was taken off the ‘bad guy’ list. ICC’s Moreno Ocamapo hardly talks about him anymore. He’s issuing arrest warrants for Muammar Gaddafi now.

To be sure, the West’s involvement in Libya on the side of the ‘rebels’ is anything but altruistic. If such concerns were genuine then there would not have been so much injustice in Palestine. Besides, if what the West says is true, then we would expect it to be stern with the tyrants in Yemen and Bahrain. Instead, we see the West’s rulers tacitly supporting their atrocities which are no less cruel or any less vicious than that of Gaddafi’s or Assad’s against their people. So what’s it all about after all? It’s not only about oil, it’s not only about money, and it’s not only about power. It’s about a combination of all three, with a little bit of old fashioned vengeance thrown in for the thrill of it. People have been killed and will continue to be killed but then who cares for non-White people anyway - especially when they happen to be Muslims. All US presidents have had the blood on non-White people on their hands. After World War II the US alone has killed more than 20 million non-White people if you start counting the dead in the Korean War, Vietnam and Kampuchea to Iraq to Afghanistan and Catholic nations in South America, known disparagingly as America’s backyard ‘where our bananas grow’  The total will amount to the entire population of Sri Lanka.

Trusting People

Gaddafi’s main drawback was that he couldn’t trust his own people. But that’s the way with all dictators. A dictator’s enemies are his own people and hence there hardly is any doubt he would have slaughtered his ‘enemies’ in Benghazi, hadn’t NATO intervened.

However, the West’s sudden ‘compassion’ for Libyans, and Muslims at that, was more to do with hatred for Muammar Gaddafi and a greed for ‘his’ wealth than the higher purpose for humanity that is being trotted out.

The rebels, and among them are one time Gaddafi loyalists and CIA agents like Gen. Khalifa Hifter, must see things in their proper perspective. They must realise that being friends of the American Empire can be dangerous business as the likes of Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noreiga and more recently Osama Bin Laden realised much to their grief and too late in their lives. It’s not that they were saints, but those who vanquished them were no better.

People Held Captive

Both dictators and ‘democrats’, especially those of the West, have one thing in common. Both steal the lives of their own people. The only difference is that the former stink to high heavens and the latter smells of roses. And that’s because the latter is the one who controls the narratives or to put it in another way – the one who ‘gives the news’.

The dictator controls his people by direct oppression. There is, nonetheless, a disadvantage in this technique. An oppressed people begin to think and eventually speak out against the injustices perpetrated on them. That’s what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. The West, especially the US, controls its people by ‘Thought Control’ or ‘Mind Manipulation’ - the technique described in George Orwell’s book ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’, where subjects, not citizens, are fed with stories of the ‘evil other’ wanting to destroy their way of life. So the words of George Bush ‘they hate our democracy, they hate our way of life’ and ‘if you are not with ‘us’ you are with ‘them’ are perfectly scripted and seared in the minds of Americans who are made to believe that out there are Muslim fundamentalists hell bent on destroying their democracy  Hollywood and the ‘Hollwoodisation’ of the ‘news on TV and print media’, serve as tools to reinforce these myths of the ‘other’ in an entertaining sort of way day in and day out. First it was the ‘red under the bed’ now it’s Islam, identified then as the ‘green peril’, with the Pentagon playing the role of the ‘Ministry of Truth’. How else would you explain a grown up American - and a religious leader at that - wanting to burn copies of the Qur’an?

At this crucial juncture the Libyans must surely wonder if they are exchanging their present devil for yet another – a hydra headed one.


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