The anti-war movement's prediction that western interventions would set the Middle East on fire, have proved tragically true, but that will not stop politicians fanning the flames
Remember when David Cameron was cheerleading for the bombing of Libya, back in 2011? Britain and France then led a coalition that intervened ostensibly to protect the people of the eastern city of Benghazi but in reality to overthrow the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
Success in this endeavour prompted Cameron to make a speech to the United Nations in New York, in September 2011 where he bragged of the lifesaving and humanitarian aspects of his intervention.
"And on this occasion a coalition of nations across the Western and Arab world had the will to act. In so doing, they stopped Benghazi from joining Srebrenica and Rwanda in history's painful roll call of massacres the world failed to prevent.
"Today, Tripoli [the Libyan capital] and Benghazi are cities transformed."
Transformed indeed. They are fought over by rival militias with devastating effects for most Libyans. The airport in Tripoli has been destroyed and the central bank robbed.
"Libya is wracked by violence, factionalism and political polarisation – and by the growing menace of jihadi extremism," reports The Guardian.
"Oil production, the source of most state revenues, has declined massively. Cash is running out and basic services are facing collapse as the financial situation deteriorates. Hopes for change generated by the Arab spring and the demise of Gaddafi’s dictatorship have faded into despair and dysfunction."
Most embassies have closed. Explosions have rocked oil refineries. The council of deputies’ parliament was for a time meeting on a Greek car ferry off the coast of Tobruk, so dangerous is the terrain.
"It was better under Gaddafi," says a young Libyan student, "I never thought to say this before, I hated him, but things were better then. At least we had security."
No matter, according to Cameron, who this week justified his actions as he condemned the gruesome murder of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS forces (yes ISIS are there too now).
"Do I regret that Britain played our role in getting rid of [Col Muammar] Gaddafi and coming to the aid of that nation when Gaddafi was going to murder his own citizens in Benghazi? No, I don't.
"It was the right thing for Britain and Libya, Gaddafi was no friend of our country. The Semtex given to the IRA has done a huge amount of damage to our country.’
For younger readers, Libya is supposed to have supplied the IRA with explosives, Semtex, to manufacture bombs. Cameron conveniently ignores that this whole episode took place long before Tony Blair decided that Gadaffi was his new friend and did a deal with him. It was long in the past when Libya became Britain’s ally.
Not to mention that Libya in its present state has been referred to as a 'weapons supermarket'.
These weapons are not only being used in the killing and injuries of those in Libya. They are being exported to the wars conducted by ISIS and others in Syria, Iraq and the Sinai in Egypt.
The growth of ISIS and other forms of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East has prompted an increase in bombing, not just by the western powers in Syria and Iraq, but their allies such as Jordan and Egypt.
In 2003 and since then the anti-war movement predicted that these interventions would set the Middle East on fire. We are now seeing it burn, and the politicians, like David Cameron, who continue on this course are fanning the flames.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
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