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Footing the bill in Libya

by Luis de Sousa Fri May 1st, 2015 at 02:12:33 AM EST

Muammar Gaddafi visited Europe for the last time in August of 2010, received in Rome with all the honours of a chief-of-state. At the time he requested five thousand million euros from the European Union to help the fight against illegal immigration. His words were peremptory: "Tomorrow Europe might no longer be European, and even black, as there are millions who want to come in".

One year later Gaddafi would be summarily executed at the hands of an Islamic militia.


This is a crosspost from AtTheEdgeOfTime.

Gaddafi come to power at the early age of 27, leading a socialist revolution that he would command in autocratic fashion. In plain cold war, NATO soon cast road blocks on his way and the relationship with Europe deteriorated. Gaddafi survived the bombing of his country by NATO in 1985, answering with the Lockerbie massacre in 1987. With the end of the cold war tensions receded, and after a mea culpa regarding terrorism in 1999, Gaddafi's Libya entered the XXI century as a preferential neighbour and partner of Europe.

Gaddafi's power was always underpinned by petroleum, the 1967 revolution in which he took power was to a great extent a reaction to the squandering of this precious resource by the puppet government of king Idris. In contrast to the European market economies, that sold most of the North Sea petroleum during years of low prices, Gaddafi waited. The resumption of economical relations with Europe in the beginning of this century coincided with a secular price rise; Gaddafi increase exports and the euros flowed like ever. All along this rapprochement there was never a real drive from European leaders to democratise Libya, even knowing that repression of Islamists was one of the foundations of the regime. In 2010 Libya was the second richest country in Africa in GDP per capita. That year little over 7 000 illegal immigrants reached Italian shores.

In 2011 Gaddafi faced a long popular uprising lead by various Islamic factions, during which dozens of folk lost their lives. Incited by the US, the EU decided to intervene, initiating an aerial bombing programme supporting the Islamic militias. Just in the day Gaddafi died more that 100 folk perished in Libya, either to NATO's bombs or in summary executions.

Elections took place in July of 2012, with a NATO backed alliance of multiple organisations obtaining nearly half of the votes. In Cyrenaica, the oriental province cradle to king Idris and the uprising of 2011, the moderate and liberal path taken by the new government was poorly received. In September of the same year a series of attacks was perpetrated targeting NATO officials, resulting in the death of American ambassador Christopher Stevens. One year later Cyrenaica declared independence, and has since been governed autonomously by Islamic radicals and descendants of king Idris.

In the western provinces of Tripolitana and Fezzan things did not went better. The elected Parliament was never able to impose its power and soon the political struggle unravelled into an armed conflict. An alternative parliament was installed by an Islamic faction that took Tripoli by storm; the members of the original Parliament fled the country. In the remainder of western Libya there are at least three different armed factions fighting day by day, not even sparing the petroleum infrastructure.

Beyond rippling effects to neighbouring countries, the collapse of the Libyan economy immediately meant misery to the many foreign workers seeking there a better life. Mechanics, construction workers, all sorts of non-qualified jobs where taken by workers original from poorer or unstable countries such as Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia or Ethiopia. They formed the first big wave of illegal migrants towards Europe. Then the Libyan warlords and their militias understood that a continuous flux of illegal migrants meant easy profits. It became a mere business; just in the first quarter of 2015 15 000 illegal immigrants arrived in Italy.

Horrible figures of misery and death in the Mediterranean have had great impact on the public opinion the past few weeks but are yet to bring forward the real reasons for this crisis. Politicians and pundits struggle to recognise the error it was bombing Libya in 2011. Such admission would oblige the recognition of similar foreign policy débâcles in Syria (at Greece's expense) and Ukraine (where so far it has been up to Russia to deal with refuges - possibly more than one million). Notwithstanding, the ravishing of a neighbouring country of this importance certainly has consequences. Note that Benghazi or Tripoli are closer to Brussels than the latter is, for instance, to Lisbon.

The past few months the alternative media have been referring the possibility of a terrestrial operation in Libya led by the Italians. True or not, reality is that at this stage an alternative might not exist to a new military intervention to halt the business of illegal migrations to Europe and to recompose the Libyan economy. The bill is up for payment, put our military on the line so that some sort of normality prevails in Europe.

What goes around...

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Let's not forget our former president. December 2007, seven months after Nicolas Sarkozy's election to the French presidency:

When Sarkozy Met Gaddafi - TIME

Despite his continued disdain for democracy and notoriously poor record on human rights, Gaddafi is being hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a lavish five-day stay featuring not one but two meetings with Sarkozy. Supporters of the trip argue it offers Gaddafi evidence of the diplomatic respect awaiting him should he match his improved international behavior with similarly improved treatment of his own people. Detractors point to Gaddafi's comments over the weekend that "it's normal the weak have recourse to terrorism" in international conflicts as additional proof the Libyan has a long way to go before receiving a tribute from the French Republic.

Four years later, the same Nicolas Sarkozy was heading the war party against the Gaddafi  regime.

Sarkozy is still under investigation for suspected illegal financing of his 2007 presidential run by Gaddafi.

by Bernard on Sun May 3rd, 2015 at 01:25:01 PM EST
 "and Ukraine (where so far it has been up to Russia to deal with refuges - possibly more than one million)."

After all they caused it.

by IM on Thu May 7th, 2015 at 05:50:43 AM EST
Yeah: Summit of Failure: How the EU Lost Russia over Ukraine (Spiegel, November 24, 2014)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 7th, 2015 at 05:55:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nonsense. Russia attacked. No one else.
by IM on Thu May 7th, 2015 at 08:00:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no refugee crisis in Crimea though?
by generic on Thu May 7th, 2015 at 09:05:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean aside from the tartars driven out?
by IM on Thu May 7th, 2015 at 10:20:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this happening actually? I've seen conflicting reports.
by generic on Thu May 7th, 2015 at 03:34:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point I wanted to make is that the only war that definitely wouldn't have happened without Russian involvement is the annexation of Crimea. The broader civil war probably would have started anyway, except of course that the separatists would most likely have lost by now.
And I'm not disputing that the Tatar minority now faces considerable repression, just that I haven't heard anything credible about mass expulsions.
by generic on Fri May 8th, 2015 at 05:52:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 just that I haven't heard anything credible about mass expulsions.

That's okay then. There aren't mass expulsions in the ukriane either, so what?

Und people like Girkin admiotted that they started the "civil war" in eastern Ukraine.

by IM on Fri May 8th, 2015 at 06:02:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By 'mass expulsions' read 'population displacements'.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 8th, 2015 at 06:13:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Going by the BBC the total number of Tatar refugees is in the order of 8000. That's what 3-4% ? So still less of a crime against humanity than the austerity in Latvia. And far from what Vladimir did in Chechnya.
by generic on Fri May 8th, 2015 at 07:28:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is realistic that Crimea would have the Dombas-type bloody war soon (and until now), without that Russian annexation. Does that make the Russian involvement in Crimea humanitarian?
by das monde on Sat May 9th, 2015 at 12:00:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The side onto which refugees are flocking is telling enough.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Thu May 7th, 2015 at 04:20:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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