LIBYA: Middle East 101 For President Obama

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[Global: Libya]

Colonel Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi of Libya will no doubt in time go down as one of Africa’s greats in the minds of those leaders, past and present, fighting for freedom from White colonial rule as well as in need of financial assistance to modernize from wholly peasant society to becoming equal to well established nations.

Some of which were to see the Colonel a danger as he gave refuge to men like Palestine’s Yasir Arafat, support for the overthrow of corrupt governments or, worse, those dabbling with weapons of mass destruction.

However, sitting on perhaps the better quality of the planet’s oil, many European leaders saw the potential oil wealth of Libya and chose to ignore the intricacies, some very dangerous, and lined up to bribe and coerce to sell billions of dollars of military equipment with not a care in the world of what Libya was going to do with such massed fire power. All that mattered was to keep their industries at full productive capacity, as indeed many a Western factory has been kept alive and even governments in power, and to hell with tomorrow.

Yes. Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi is Africa and that description sealed for all time. He started adult life as a soldier and was seen at the time by British officialdom as a leader and so was steered into Britain’s prestigious military academy, Sandhurst, where he passed with honors only to return to his beloved, mainly backward Libya to overthrow the Sanusi leader King Idrisi in 1969.

Certainly in those days of the late 1940s when he was coming up Libya was nothing else but complicated. Between the two World Wars there was the rule of the Italian Facists, then for a short time government by Britain and the recall from exile of King Idrisi I who seemingly had little to do but revert to type, as he had done with the Italians, and re-arm his tribe within Cyrenaica, which was certain to have the Western part of Tripolitania worried.

There is no question Qadhafi, using force against force, brought Libya together as one and sent Idrisi packing into exile to Cairo.

However, today we are seeing the Cyrenaicans, who have always been very distinct to Tripolitanians, fighting back into power with the help of President Barak Obama, who lives these days in a world of his own and certainly cannot be aware of the complications of the Middle East and tribal Arab history.

I have met Colonel Qadhafi twice. It is perhaps easy for some to call him mad. This is far from the truth. He talks in riddles but within this complicated leader there is a genius who thinks only of Africa as many have found, and I have seen for myself, whilst seeking aid for their fight for independence from colonial rule.

We saw at the time, how he put vast sums into the African National Congress (ANC) and never failed Nelson Mandela.

Let’s remember the ANC was, and remains, primarily Christian and time has shown us that all races and religions are safe under his leadership. One can safely say that he has used Libya’s oil to free others. In fact he was constantly reminding us that the oil in Libya was Africa’s.

Yes. We have heard over and over again his name being linked to the Lockerbie tragedy. But was it Qadhafi? I travelled to Libya to hear what perhaps the truth is.

There are many intelligence reports about who was behind the destruction of the Pan-Am 747 that have been totally ignored by
Washington, especially the CIA. Why, we ask ourselves, was the prominent CIA agent and millionaire,  Dr. Richard Fuisz, the CIA’s leading operator in Damascus, Syria --who professed to know, like other CIA agents, who was behind the placing of the explosive charge, and also vowed that no Libyan was involved-- put under a United States gagging order?

Perhaps now the once master Libyan intelligence chief Musa Kusa, who recently arrived to the U.K. by private aircraft, will offer more information about the evil tragedy. We know that before the Pan-Am 747 flight the Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down by an American missile whilst on a flight to Dubai, killing 290 passengers. The missile was fired from the USS Vincennes whilst in Iranian waters.

Certainly Iran swore revenge and many believe that revenge came with the downing of the 747. Perhaps now we are to hear the truth.

Qadhafi has also been branded for supplying weaponry and explosives to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Yes, it happened during the period of the Cold War but then we have to ask ourselves why were American citizens providing funds and weaponry to the Irish Republican Army at the same time?

Around the same time we have the International Court of Justice (ICJ) pointing an accusing finger at President Reagan-- that he had violated international law by supporting Contra guerrillas against their Nicaraguan government. All very complicated.

Another complication that is certainly constantly on my mind is that of Darfur. It suits America to condemn President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan but seemingly it has been forgotten that all this goes back to when the French and Chad were trying to topple Colonel Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi.

Darfur was used as a base for supporting incursions into Chad at various times throughout the late twentieth century. The Libyans, with their notions of Arab supremacy, favored Darfur’s Arabs and armed them to help support Chadian rebels.

Tacit support from Khartoum for Libya's Machiavellian tactics deepened the resentment of Darfur Africans. The forerunners of today’s notorious Janjaweed initially received their arms from Libya or from Chadian rebels.

The periodic clashes between nomads and farmers became more violent with the increasing availability of weapons as a consequence of the Libya-Chad war.  I mention this to show that the Developing World lives on a "tribal" volcano and it is not fair to try to settle very long standing disputes by unleashing modern killing war machines onto people who need to be brought together by encouraging dialogue--not by the Western powers heavy highhandedly taking sides or demanding trials in Western courts.

Many of us had hoped that the arrival into power of President Obama would see the end of much of the ancient policies of the West towards the developing world; especially within the Middle East. But alas he has gone to war.

He started that hope when addressing the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in flattering the AKP Government in Ankara and hinting that the U.S. government had been the big bad wolf that had threatened the Islamic lamb. He then moved over to Cairo to tell the Muftis of Al-Azhar that their university was the cradle of the European Renaissance and that Islam was the source of all art and science and to apologize for the wrongs the US had done to Islam.

I may be wrong but it looks to me that good Washington advice has been pushed aside and apart from supplying machines of killing the U.S. has allowed the questionable leadership of Frances Nicholas Sarkozy and the Emir of Qatar in the Middle East.

As a result within three weeks Colonel Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi has survived apparent certain defeat to be perhaps once again the man of Africa.

Bob Astles, a former British soldier and colonial officer lived for many years in Uganda. The film "Last King of Scotland" is believed to be loosely based on his life and his association with dictator Idi Amin

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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