Gaddafi, Imperialism and Western Hypocrisy
by Dr. Reza Pankhurst
October 23, 2011
David Cameron’s statement regarding the killing of Moammar al-Gaddafi will
go down as another piece of brash hypocrisy, which would be breathtaking if
it was not so expected from the British premier. He mentioned that he was
“proud of the role that Britain has played” in the uprising – meaning, of
course, the support given by NATO once it was clear that the Libyan people
had risen up against the man en masse.
However, he neglected to mention some of the other roles that Britain
previously played with the Gaddafi regime which have undoubtedly had an
effect on the events:
• Many of the weapons used by Libyan dictator’s regime were in fact
purchased from Britain.
isx&d=2011/february/26> According to the AP: “Britain sold Libya about $55
million worth of military and paramilitary equipment in the year ending
Sept. 30, 2010, according to Foreign Office statistics. Among the items:
sniper rifles, bulletproof vehicles, crowd control ammunition, and tear gas”
• The notorious Khamis brigade troops (Libya’s elite forces under the direct
command of one of the Gaddafi son’s) contracted an £85 million command and
control system from General Dynamics UK –
7/How-Britain-courted-armed-and-trained-a-Libyan-monster.html> one of the
deals cut with the personal backing of the then British PM Tony Blair.
• Not only did the British arm the forces of the Gaddafi regime, they also
trained them. The Khamis brigade troops were also trained by the SAS as well
as being armed by British companies.
Cameron also stated that today was “a day to remember all of Colonel
Gaddafi’s victims”. However, he neglected to mention those victims who were
kidnapped and rendered to the Gaddafi regime by the British intelligence
service such as Sami al Saadi,
> who is now
suing the British government for not only being complicit in his rendition
and torture, but actually actively organizing it as highlighted by documents
unearthed in Libya.
The American’s are also not free of association with the Libyan regime – and
were also actively pursuing both commercial and security interests with the
Documents have shown that the CIA kidnapped the current head of the Tripoli
j-head-of-military-in-tripoli-and-former-lifg-amir> Abdel Hakim Belhaj,
torturing him before rendering him and his family to the Libyan regime back
While the CIA had obviously begun their relationship with the regime
earlier, by 2008, former president George W. Bush sent his top diplomat
Condoleezza Rice to Libya for talks with the regime, and in the same year,
Texas-based Exxon Mobil signed an exploration agreement with the Libyan
National Oil Corp. to explore for hydrocarbons off the Libyan coast.
isx&d=2011/february/26> to the same AP report:
The US also approved the sale of military items to Libya in recent years,
giving private arms firms licenses to sell everything from explosives and
incendiary agents to aircraft parts and targeting equipment.
The Bush administration approved the sale of $3 million of materials to
Libya in 2006 and $5.3 million in 2007. In 2008, Libya was allowed to import
$46 million in armaments from the US. The approved goods included nearly 400
shipments of explosive and incendiary materials, 25,000 aircraft parts,
56,000 military electronics components, and nearly 1,000 items of optical
targeting and other guidance equipment.
The Obama administration has not released figures showing the depth of their
relationship with the Gaddafi regime, but it is not likely to be any less
repulsive than that of the previous American government.
In summary, Britain and America armed the Libyan regime, as well as actively
co-operated with it in the torture of opposition figures. This was done
alongside supporting it politically through opening up diplomatic channels
and meetings, and working hard to open the regime up to Western commercial
Taking the above into account, it is widely held that the long-time presence
of the collection of various Middle Eastern despots was in no small part due
to Western support, a fact that automatically negates any altruism on the
part of the same governments when extolling the virtues of their military
intervention in this case. Without the weapons, training, and diplomatic
legitimacy and support given to regimes from Libya to Tunisia to Saudi
Arabia and Bahrain, it is doubtful that they would have survived up until
today given that popular dissatisfaction against them had been brewing for
As an example, the relative silence and inaction of the West vis-à-vis the
bloody and violent actions of their Bahraini ally (a benevolent monarch or
oppressive dictator depending on which side is supported), as well as that
of their partner in the war on terror, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh,
whose forces continue to kill protestors on an almost daily basis (while the
Americans continue to bomb victims, including American teenagers, with
predator drones), exposes any claims that the West’s intervention in Libya
was about anything altruistic.
Opposite to their lofty but empty rhetoric, the West has no real interest in
supporting popular uprisings against regimes historically aligned with them,
a message that has been sent to the populations of the region through the
support of both Ben Ali and Mubarak until their final moments while working
hard to “manage” any process of change which would maintain their interests,
and their continued support of the Khalifa family, Abdullah Saleh, and the
remaining despots in the Arabian peninsula.
This is along with their refusal to abandon their “reform” candidate in
Syria Bashar al-Assad for months after he began massacring the people there.
Going further afield to places like Pakistan, it is the United States that
is currently killing civilians with alarming regularity
nd-legitimising-murder> through the use of their unmanned aerial drones,
with the silent collaboration of the Zardari regime.
While many celebrate the killing of a despot hated by the people of the
region, it is unlikely that the region will forget the history of
supporting, and continuing support, for the dictators of the Middle East.
While for the remaining illegitimate regimes in the area, the lesson of
Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, Ben Ali, and now Moammar al-Gaddafi is that
friends can be quickly forsaken by their Western patrons when the writing is
on the wall, the best lesson that the common man may draw from these events
is simply to never trust a Western politician and that the only way to alter
the status quo is through radical change.
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Received on Sun Oct 23 2011 - 18:42:58 EDT