Liberation of Islamic Lands

Beware the Ides of March: Part Two

Do not hold the delusion that your advancement is accomplished by crushing others.

— Marcus Tullius Cicero,106-43 B.C.E. Roman Statesman, Philosopher

Even by the standards of a near bankrupt island off Europe, run currently, largely, by a bunch of seemingly gung-ho, out of  touch millionaires, the gun boat diplomacy of Messrs Cameron, Fox and Hague ( Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Foreign Minister respectively) was a monumental farce of historic proportions.

The story unravelled as fast as William Hague’s statement on 21 February that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela – which prompted London’s Venezuelan Embassy to release an emphatic denial clarifying ” … the mistaken aspect of such a statement.”

“A small British diplomatic team …”, according to William Hague, had entered Libya (illegally) to make contact with the rebel National Council in Benghazi. Liam Fox, singing from the same hymn sheet (6 March) told ITN that “a small diplomatic team” was talking with the rebels. Not quite. A team of “special forces” officers had been captured by a group of guards protecting the Al-Khadra Farm company, eighteen miles from Benghazi, alerted by the deafening thudding of helicopter rotor blades.

They were apprehended, tied up and delivered to the Benghazi revolutionary council. A senior member of the council told the Guardian: “They were carrying espionage equipment, reconnaissance equipment, multiple passports and weapons. This is no way to conduct yourself during an uprising … Gaddafi is bringing in thousands of mercenaries to kill us, most are using foreign passports … how do we know who these people are? They say they’re British nationals and some of the passports they have are British. But the Israelis used British passports to kill that man in Dubai last year.” Indeed.

Rebel sources initially also expressed puzzlement about the mission. “If this is an official delegation, why come with helicopters? Why not say ‘we are coming, permission to land at the airport?’ There are rules for these things,” one said.

Seemingly, the hapless bunch were taken by helicopter from HMS Cumberland, docked off the Libyan coast, to liaise with a British man called “Tom”, who had been working at the Al-Khadra farm as an “administrator” for a few months. He had, however, driven off at 3 a.m. the same night, saying he was going in to Benghazi (as you do, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a revolution) according to one of the guards. A Foreign Office official, asked whether it would not have made more sense to simply dock by the boat in Benghazi harbour and take a taxi to meet the rebel leadership, a mere couple of miles away, conceded that, yes, that probably would have been wiser.

Former British ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles, commented dryly that the antics seemed “a strange way of introducing yourself to a new regime”.

The bungling bunch are thought to have been assembled by the Secret Intelligence Service, a bit of an oxymoron, in the circumstances, clearly deficit in both intelligence and secrecy. The “SIS collects secret intelligence and mounts covert operations overseas in support of British Government objectives”, states their website. The “objective” in this case is undoubtedly the largest oil deposits in Africa and the ninth largest in the world. Amongst the “values” which the SIS “upholds” is “Integrity – we act within our legal framework and with the highest ethical and professional standards.”  Creeping illegally, into a sovereign state, in the dead of night, armed to the teeth, with a bunch of dodgy passports, and surveillance equipment, seems to fall a little short on the “integrity” front, but we can all make mistakes. They certainly endorsed Colonel Gaddafi’s assertion that the uprisings were the result of “foreign interference”, though.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office hit another high score on the error front, unable to evacuate an estimated three thousand British oil workers from the initial chaos, whilst other countries, including some tiny, some very poor, were having no trouble sending in flights to bring their nationals home. All descended into further absurdity, when it was announced that the war ship  HMS Cumberland (from which the above insurgents deployed) was going to the rescue: “but would not dock until it was safe.”

A plane that was finally chartered, was stuck at Gatwick airport for ten hours with a technical hitch, the Foreign Minister and his staff apparently unable to find any others for charter anywhere on the planet. David Cameron said he was “terribly sorry” for the plight of the stranded – and Deputy Prime Minister Clegg said he had “forgotten” he was in charge of the country.

There were no such problems in chartering a plane for the staff of the British Embassy, who closed the building and scuttled out, with the Ambassador, Richard Northern, on 26 February.

The Prime Minister was touring the Middle East, condemning violence, with a bunch of arms salesmen in tow. At the same time, in the United Arab Emirates, fifty British companies had displays at the arms export show, attended by Libyan Generals, as Cameron declared the force used in that country as “completely appalling and unacceptable.”

The “appalling and unacceptable”, was, in fact, being carried out using U.K., equipment, licensed for sale to Libya as late as 2010, including wall and door breaching projectile launchers, crowd control ammunition, small arms ammunition, tear gas and irritant ammunition. Sniper rifles were also approved. Further, both Bahraini and Libyan authorities were invited to attend two recent UK arms fairs: Farnborough in 2010 and Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) in 2009.

As British nationals were abandoned and Cameron flogged arms and wandered, smirking, in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, boasting being “the first Western leader” to visit after the uprising (British politicians have a delusional obsession at being “first” or “leading the world,” having a pitiful modern record on both, except in illegal invasions and mass murder.) Nick Clegg went skiing.

Since Barack Obama last week told Colonel Qaddafi he should step down (and was pressured into suspending a contract to Libya for troop carriers and military exports, which would also have benefited Britain’s BAE Systems) Cameron has followed his Leader and, this week with France’s President Sarkozy, signed a letter to Herman von Rompuy, President of the European Union Council, urging “… ending of the suffering of the Libyan people,” thus “Muammar Qaddafi and his clique must leave.” Hardly statesmanlike language and hardly legal. Incredibly they call for plans to “prepare to help” the insurgency and preparations for a no-fly zone over Libya.

Patrick Cockburn, in the (London) Independent (11th March) encapsulated the posturing: “There is something frivolous and absurd about France’s sudden recognition of the Libyan rebel leadership in Benghazi as a sort of quasi-government. Presumably intended to give the impression Nicolas Sarkozy has a grip on events, it is evidence he does not know what to do any more than other European leaders.

The recognition of unelected and self-appointed leaders in countries in which civil war is raging is a reminder, rather, of 19th century imperialism, when the British, for instance, would choose a leader in a country like Afghanistan who was most likely to be co-operative. There is usually a price to be paid for this. Leaders backed by outside powers may obtain arms and money, but their local credibility is unlikely to be enhanced. In Libya, Gaddafi can more easily deride his opponents as foreign dupes. If recognition of the Benghazi junta is aimed at providing political cover for later military intervention, it is again unlikely to convince anybody that Libyans are taking the decisions.

As in Iraq, sell $millions in arms to a seemingly favored customer, then impose sanctions, freeze all assets (accounting for seized assets apparently not necessary) invade and grab the oil fields. They also demanded all countries now embargo arms “including supplies to mercenaries.” Since mercenaries from U.S. and U.K., firms such as  Control Risks, Blackwater (now XE) KBR, Triple Canopy, CACI, Titan (the latter two who brought the high standard of duty of care in Abu Ghraib to the world), of course, outnumber troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in order of magnitude, the latter ranks a special category of chutzpah.

As the Arab League too grapples with the problem, and moots following the U.S., European Union route of a “no fly zone,” the sticky matter of legality emerges again. As Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton, points out:

It should be obvious that a no-fly zone in Libyan airspace is an act of war, as would be, of course, contemplated air strikes on fortifications of the Gaddafi forces.The core legal obligation of the U.N., Charter requires member states to refrain from any use of force unless it can be justified as self-defence after a cross-border armed attack or mandated by a decision of the U.N., Security Council.

His colleague, Professor Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois told Al Jazeera (10 March) that the proposed no fly zone was illegal, and:  ” … recognising the Libyan rebels as a legitimate government”, simply signalled intention of interfering in Libya’s affairs, and that all the U.S. was interested in was re-stealing Libya’s oil.

Presenting as altruism, another kleptomaniac foray for resources (and subsequent, inevitable disastrous, quagmire) is important. The buzz word currently for carpet bombing and invasion is “humanitarian intervention.” The indisputable tragedy of thirty deaths was “a massacre.” Implication: “intervention” is a moral duty. Yet strangely, when US/NATO in Afghanistan killed sixty four villagers on 20th February (locals said twenty were women, twenty nine were children and young adults, aged seven to twenty, and fifteen, men) it was declared by spokesmen, not a “massacre” but a “mistake.”

On 1 March when nine children, aged seven to fifteen were killed whilst collecting firewood, near a village in Kunar province, Defence Secretary, Robert Gates described their annihilation as a ” … a setback.” The Washington Post (3 March) described the children’s deaths as: “the latest irritant” between US/NATO forces and the Afghan government. Killings of protesters in Iraq, by forces of America’s puppet government, are met with silence. There was no call for a “no fly zone” as Israel decimated Gaza and mercilessly destroyed fourteen hundred lives, trapped in a tiny land, with nowhere to hide.

Whatever the undisputed failings of the Libyan regime, the “humanitarian intervention” aspect does not sit too well in a country, where, according to the Human Development Index (HDI) (which measures life expectancy, health, literacy and well being) an “extensive” social services programme, included a comprehensive pension system, compensation for sickness and work injury, maternity benefit, free medical care and education, with a “dramatic” improvement in literacy over two decades and the lowest infant mortality rate and highest life expectancy in Africa.

Libya’s HDI is the highest in Africa and rates 53rd over all (in context, Brazil 73rd.) Whilst Colonel Gaddafi’s treatment of opponents leaves plenty to be desired, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo, and secret torture renditions across the planet, the potential treatment of Julian Assange and the actual treatment of Bradley Manning, are hardly platforms from which to preach human rights.

Should anyone harbour doubts as to how casual invasion has become, the banter between General Petraeus and Robert Gates, on his recent arrival in Afghanistan, should allay them. ‘Apparently unaware of an open microphone, Gen Petraeus greeted Mr Gates at Kabul airport joking: “Welcome back, sir, flying a little bigger plane than normal … you gonna launch some attacks on Libya or something?”

The US Defence Secretary responded to the comment by laughing and replied, “yeah, exactly.” ((Daily Telegraph, 8 March.))

Since the imposition of sanctions on Iraq in 1990, the subsequent bombings, George W, Bush’s declaration of a “Crusade” before Iraq’s invasion, the carpet bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the bombing, invasion, and occupation of Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. and U.K., have led twenty one, shameful, homicidal, infanticidal, blood-soaked years against Muslim lands.


  • Read Part 1.
  • Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity.

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    1. MichaelKenny said on March 14th, 2011 at 9:08am #

      I think the amusing antics of Hague, Sarkozy and co. are due to their playing to their domestic galleries. Cameron always has to watch his “crazies”, such as Hague, Fox and worse, and Hague making a total fool of himself is all to the good. Sarko’s problem is that a recent poll showed Marine Le Pen (the daughter!) coming second in the first round of the 2012 presidential election (Socialist Dominique Strauss Kahn would come first). That would eliminate Sarko from the second round. Thus, he is trying to win back some voters from the FN by good, old fashioned Arab-bashing!

    2. 3bancan said on March 14th, 2011 at 9:36am #

      As to Patrick Cockburn’s hint at “19th century imperialism”: It’s European 21th century imperialism that should be talked. Europe has never in its history been so united in its imperial quest to “democratize” the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if the last absentees – Andorra, Liechtenstein and Vatican – join the rest soon..

    3. MichaelKenny said on March 14th, 2011 at 10:25am #

      Lovely piece of Israel Lobby propaganda from 3bancan. Israel has to win, so the American Empire has to win and Europe has to be in America’s pocket, since it has the misfortune to sit astride the most direct route from Israel to its American bully. So it has to be Europe, not the Empire, that is on a democratising “crusade” accross the world. Just shows you how desperate Israel’s supporters are!

    4. 3bancan said on March 14th, 2011 at 12:08pm #

      The UAE and Saudi Arabia help Europeans and the US to bring democracy (sic) to the unruly Bahrainis:


    5. Ismail Zayid said on March 14th, 2011 at 12:22pm #

      Imperial powers, like the UK, US and Israel , amongst others, have the right to interpret secrecy, intelligence and dignity the way they like!! British Secret Intelligence Service [SIS] cn march into another country equipped with espionage equipment and multiple passports and call that a humanitarian service. Israel can mount a vicious attack on the people of Gaza destroying its infrastructure and killing hundreds of children, amongst others, using phosphorus bombs etc, and call it “self defence”. In the context of protecting Libyan civilians fro Qaddafi attacks, the UK, US and their allies are mounting a no-fly zone, sanctions and the threat of military invasion. But the killing of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan, forget about Palestine, can go on unchallenged.

      In essence, we see today the spirit of imperialism in its full colours.

    6. 3bancan said on March 14th, 2011 at 3:21pm #

      ­Dr. Haytham Manna’s servitude to European imperialism and his religious-like belief in its kangaroo justice is out of the ordinary:


    7. hayate said on March 14th, 2011 at 7:34pm #

      10 Reasons to say no to western intervention in Libya

      By Andrew Murray, National Chair, Stop the War Coalition

      14 March 2011

      “The political campaign to launch a military intervention in Libya – ostensibly on humanitarian grounds but with patently political ends in sight – is gathering steam among the NATO powers. A “no-fly zone” has now been urged by the Arab League – for the most part a collection of frightened despots desperate to get the US military still more deeply involved in the region. That would be the start of a journey down slippery slope.

      Here are ten reasons to resist the siren calls for intervention:”


    8. John Andrews said on March 15th, 2011 at 1:11am #

      Great piece Felicity.

    9. hayate said on March 15th, 2011 at 3:13am #

      Mar 15, 2011

      African dissent on no-fly zone counts

      By M K Bhadrakumar


      “Moussa delivers …

      Moussa’s bid got great fillip by the AL decision Saturday to recommend imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. His star has risen far above Mohammed ElBaradei’s. Two major Arab countries opposed the AL statement – Syria and Algeria – but Moussa rammed it through, thanks to the AL heavyweights clamoring for democracy to succeed and autocracy to end – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan.

      What bizarre drama! The plain truth is that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) commanded AL to speak since they need a fig leaf to approach the United Nations Security Council.

      The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, was in Cairo on Saturday by Moussa’s side to ensure America’s “Plan B” delivered. And he did. Promptly, the US, Britain, France and Canada “welcomed” the AL statement. NATO will meet on Tuesday to tone up its stance on Libya.

      … but Africa dissents

      The Western powers had earlier mentioned the AL and African Union (AU) in the same breath as representing “regional opinion”. Now it seems the AU isn’t so important – it has become an embarrassment. African leaders are proving to be tough nuts to crack compared to Arab playboy-rulers.

      Unsurprisingly, there is a virtual media blackout on the AU’s activities on Libya. It is, therefore, useful to recapitulate. “The [AU] council reaffirms its firm commitment to the respect of the unity and territorial integrity of Libya, as well as its rejection of any form of foreign intervention in Libya,” Ramtane Lamamra, AU commissioner for peace and security stated in Addis Abbaba. The AU’s 15-member peace and security council decided to “put in lace a high-level ad-hoc committee” to monitor the Libyan crisis….”


    10. shabnam said on March 17th, 2011 at 8:58am #

      The imperialists and Zionists who pose as ‘leftiests’ have been EXPOSED fully on question of Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and more.

      The ‘Arab Journalists’ who come here and talk ONLY about a SAFE issue such as ‘Palestine’ but are silent on ARAB REACTIONARIES, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Arab Emirate, Bahrain (Ramzy Barout, a chomskyite), all have been exposed. Whoever is concerned about human rights must be alarmed and raise their voices against intervention of reactionary Arabs, Saudis and their backers in Bahrain where have killed hundreds of people, almost all of them Shiites. Saudi Arabia is responsible for majority of Shiite killing in Iraq. How many time the same ‘Arab journalist” have written an article to condemn Saudi Arabia’s crimes against humanity? The human rights are NOT LIMITED ONLY TO QUESTION OF PALESTINE. The opportunists cannot hide their true color anymore. The closet Zionists at Zmag, Proyect, and other Trotskyite groups in addition to US government agents POSE as ‘progressive’, INFORMED COMMENT, to fool the public, all HAVE BEEN EXPOSED by their stand against Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, being silent about invasion of Saudi Arabia in Bahrain, that the Zionist stooge, Obama, kissed Abdulla’s hand but goes after Iran. These phony “progressives” and pseudo leftists have taken a position IDENTICAL TO FORCES OF EVIL, Zionism and imperialism. The latest is a closet Zionist, Immanuel Wallerstein, who is attacking people for their position against the Zionists and imperialists. He writes:
      {{There is so much hypocrisy and so much confused analysis about what is going on in Libya that one hardly knows where to begin. The most neglected aspect of the situation is the deep division in the world left. Several left Latin American states, and most notably Venezuela, are fulsome in their support of Colonel Qaddafi. But the spokespersons of the world left in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and indeed North America, decidedly don’t agree.
      The issue is the consequence of Qaddafi’s attempt to suppress all opposition in the most brutal fashion for the second Arab revolt.”}}
      Where is Wallerstein ‘anti imperialism’ and zionism activities? Show me that.

    11. 3bancan said on March 17th, 2011 at 6:52pm #

      “After days of discussions, the UN Security Council has adopted a resolution on Libya that lets the world community intervene and bomb military targets within the country, all under the premise of protecting the civilian population.
      ­Ten out of 15 countries on the United Nations Security Council voted in support of the resolution. Russia, Brazil, China, Germany and India abstained from the vote.
      The resolution calls for an immediate cease-fire in Libya and also implements an authorization of a no-fly zone over the country. It also says that all countries should act unilaterally and take all necessary means to protect civilians in Libya from the violence that has been escalating over the past month.
      The definition “all necessary means” gives the UN a lot of room in deciding how to act when it comes to quelling the uprising in Libya.
      The vote was passed a lot quicker than had been anticipated – it took less than an hour”


      And I was ridiculed here when I wrote that Russia is just another NATO member, that China is diligently joining “the international community” and that India is totally zionazified.
      So another Iraq in the offing – this time with the consent/will of the whole of the zionazified international community…

    12. shabnam said on March 17th, 2011 at 7:50pm #

      {I was ridiculed here when I wrote that Russia is just another NATO member, that China is diligently joining “the international community” and that India is totally zionazified.}

      You are right.
      Few of my comments were censored because I criticized CHINA and RUSSIA, the Muslim, enemies. These countries are IN BED WITH ZIONISTS AND IMPERIALS against ISLAMIC COUNTRIES to get CONCESSIONS. China, Russia and India have voted against Iran all the time with the United States. No one should TRUST these countries. Shame on CHINA, RUSSIA AND RACIST INDIA. They are the enemy of Muslims. They have voted against Muslims over and over and over and…..
      These countries have obtained concessions from the criminal west by killing Muslims and destroying their countries.


      {Terror India, like its Zionist strategic partner, pursues a pro-West and anti-Islamic policy to woo USA-UK terror twins to support all its illegal ambitions. Indian government is a RACIST government vote in favor of Western terrorist state to receive so many illegal concession including nuclear hand out but vote against Iran nuclear energy program. India is NOT democracy, it is a system based on Casts system where almost half of the population is illiterate.
      The politicians, aided by the bureaucracies and intelligence plus polices, get elected by bribing others and collecting bribes with a promise of “doing enough” when they come to power. And when in power their main interest obviously is to loot the nation in the name of serving them and help those that brought them to power, including those who bribed them in poll campaigns liberally. But those who stood in long queues to vote these politicians are just forgotten only to shoulder the ever rising prices of essentials.}


      {One month after India voted against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna for the first time, a diplomatic cable of October 20, 2005 ( 43172: confidential) noted with alarm the fact that the barrage of criticism of the Manmohan Singh government’s controversial decision “is increasing rather than dying down.”}

      China, Russia, racist India HAVE Muslim’s BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS. DOWN with imperialism/Zionism and their extension CHINA, RUSSIA & INDIA, the enemy of Muslims. Apparently new president in Brazil is another PUPPET OF THE WEST against Muslims. All Muslims must remember their enemies generation after generation until their enemies are destroyed, the same way as they have destroyed us.

    13. shabnam said on March 17th, 2011 at 11:03pm #

      Colombia, Gabon, Lebanon, South Africa, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Portugal, Nigeria (all US puppets) with ziofascists, US, Britain, France, Voted for ‘no-fly zone’ in Libya. The judeofascists: David Cameron, Sarkozy cannot wait any longer to bomb Libya in order to protect the ‘civilians’.

      Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, both are already involved in crushing protests in Bahrain, also are expected to take a role soon in the attack on Libya.
      The reactionary Arabs, Qatar and Arab Emirate were created by the British Empire, a few decades ago, are going to join air strikes against Libya. Both are as REACTIONARY as Saudi Arabia. Al Jazeera is the empire media outlet in the region to fool the ‘international community’.

      Obama, a Zionist servant, who did bow in front of, Abdullah, a reactionary and a terrorist who has killed thousands of Shiite in Iraq and hundreds in Bahrain entered Bahrain a few days ago to kill Shiites in the street. Saudi Arabia has a special interest in killing Shiites on behalf of the war criminals in Washington. Obama and the ‘feminists’, Clinton and Susan Rice, said NOTHING.
      The reactionary ARAB LEAGUE, voted for ‘no-fly zone’ in Libya to support the geopolitical design of the empire. The majority members of Arab league are servants of US/Israel where no one respects them.

      The ‘revolutionary’ Arab countries, Egypt and Tunis, are working openly with Washington against another Muslim country located in the horn of Africa. The US and Israel are trying to bring Red Sea and its canals, including Suez Canal, under their control to weaken Arab countries in the region even further to establish ‘greater Israel’.

      Muslim Brotherhood is cooperating with US regional interest against Libya where one of the MB leaders has recently issued a fatwa to kill Gaddafi, which is a terrorist act, but the Zionist stooges, Obama, Clinton or Susan Rice said nothing against this act of terror.