My latest piece on BGS: http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2011/02/lets-stop-backing-dictators/
Let’s stop backing dictators!
Away from the view of journalists, Gaddafi is attacking his own people ferociously in Libya, to try to win back control over towns and cities which have been freed by acts of incredible bravery. It is time the international community acted decisively: at a minimum, we need a no-fly zone over most of Libya now, to stop Gaddafi bombing and strafeing his own people. This is what the many former Libyan diplomats who have resigned from the Libyan government are saying. The world needs to act on this now!
Meanwhile, I wonder if Gordon Brown is (now) regretting having taken the extensive actions that he did and his government did, as we now know (http://politics.caledonianmercury.com/2011/02/08/megrahi-revelations-show-yet-again-that-gordon-brown-just-didn%E2%80%99t-get-devolution/), to get Megrahi the Lockerbie bomber released back to the care of Gaddafi. These actions by the British government basically sent Gaddafi the message loud and clear that all that Britain cared about was making money with Libya, not justice and the rule of law, let alone the fate of the oppressed Libyan people themselves. The heartrendingly unprecedentedly savage treatment that Gaddafi is now meting out to his own people who are daring to stand up for their freedom was in effect given the green light in advance by Britain, as soon as Brown started helping Libya to get Megrahi back.
It is time for Britain to decisively change course, and abandon its support for Middle Eastern and North African rulers (including also those of Bahrain, Djibouti, Yemen plus of course Israel) who fire on people. This process might be helped along if Brown (and Blair, who initiated the process of making friends with Gaddafi and who played a role it seems, according to the Wikileaks cables, in the dubious freeing of Megrahi: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/221905?CMP=twt_gu) himself were to speak out, expressing regret that the last government didn’t take a far stronger line against the oppresive, murderous Gaddafi.
At the moment, the signs that the British government is contemplating a serious change of course are limited, to say the least. Yes, Britain has now stopped certain arms exports to Bahrain (and Libya: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/crackdown-on-arms-exports-to-bahrain-2219269.html ) – but recall that just a week before the Bahrain uprising began, William Hague was in Bahrain in effect pledging our support to the autocrats there, warmly shaking their hands, pushing for more economic and trade links, and making a few gentle noises about ‘reform’ to cover his tracks: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12413552 . Meanwhile, we have the astounding situation that LibDem peer Emma Nicholson is in Yemen to conduct trade talks, during the uprising there: http://www.sabanews.net/en/news236113.htm & http://www.sabanews.net/en/news236123.htm . I can find no record of Nicholson speaking out about what the government there is doing to its people (see e.g. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/protests-continue-in-yemen-algeria-and-morocco-as-strikes-banned-in-egypt-2220133.html ) right now. This really is a quite appalling, though not unexpected, state of affairs.
The British government needs to wake up. The world is changing. It is simply no longer acceptable to be complicit with the violent and provocative repression of peaceful protests abroad – or, indeed, at home…
Which brings us to the latest appalling event: Cameron’s trip to the MidEast to see dictators to do business with them and sell them arms. I kid you not: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/21/cameron-cairo-visit-defence-trade?CMP=twt_gu . A cleverly arranged PR opp in Cairo, and its off to Kuwait to sell arms etc. to a genuinely autocratic regime…
You couldn’t make it up.