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Why Do France and the UK Want Us to Help Them Help Libyan Rebels? 400,000 Refugees Probably Had a Lot to Do with It.

7:13 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

When I first wrote about the Libyan uprising and the US’ role in helping the rebels, I wondered about the reasons that Britain and France might have for a) wanting to help the rebels militarily, and b) wanting the US to help with their efforts.

Turns out that I’d seriously underestimated the magnitude of the Libyan refugee crisis that Gaddafi’s crackdown created.

How bad of a crisis? This bad: 400,000 persons have fled the country as of today. That’s out of a population of 6.4 million, meaning that one out every sixteen persons living in Libya back in early February has left Libya, very likely forever. 180,000 of that number had left, half of them for Tunisia, in the eleven days stretching from February 20 — when Gaddafi unleashed his helicopter gunships on protesters — to March 3.

Now, many of the refugees are themselves immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and are simply returning to their own homelands. But many, if not most of them, are stuck in Tunisia and Egypt for the foreseeable future, joining displaced persons from Tunisia itself. And a fair number of them, not wanting to go back to their homelands — as one Nigerian immigrant to Libya said, “If our country was a very nice place to be, we would not have gone to a place like Libya” — are looking towards Europe.

In fact, there are a number on European soil already. Five thousand have landed at the island of Lampedusa, which though it belongs to Italy is much closer geographically to Libya. Over eight hundred have made it as far as Malta, and more are on the way to both Malta and Lampedusa, as well as other places around the Mediterranean Sea.

This exodus, on top of the Tunisian exodus, is starting to unnerve a lot of people, particularly right-wing nutjob politicians such as Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen (and who like her father is dismayingly popular in France), and commentators in Italy and France who like to periodically raise the specter of hordes of dark-skinned Africans overrunning the white people of Europe. Ironically, Gaddafi has used these fears to justify his continued rule, stating in December that “Europe will become black” if he is overthrown. However, the number of persons who have already fled as a result of his crackdowns has apparently made various European governments decide that they might be better off if Gaddafi were removed from power as quickly as possible.

So there you have it. No oil, no kowtowing to Al-Qaeda or the CIA, no imperialism, no US leading the rest of the world around. At its heart, it’s pretty much a desire to stop Gaddafi from causing even more people to flee and overwhelm the already-taxed refugee camps in Tunisia, much less Lampedusa or Malta. Whatever one thinks of the US’ involvement in a European and African issue, it’s not based on the motives so many people like to ascribe to it.

UPDATE: A quick note:

The number of refugees who left Libya in the eighteen days before NATO’s no-fly zone: around 300,000, at a rate of 14,000 a day.

The number who have left in the eighteen days since the NFZ was established to yesterday: around 100,000, or around 6,000 a day.

As I touched on earlier, one of the things that until now had made the European nations that make up NATO be relatively friendly to Gaddafi was his self-appointed role as the gatekeeper between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. Playing on European racist fears, he worked to all but end unsanctioned African migration through Libya to Europe, he also has warned that “Europe will become black” through a torrent of uncontrolled refugees if he’s allowed to fall. However, since three times as many persons have fled Libya in the eighteen days before the NFZ as have fled in the eighteen days since the NFZ was established, his gatekeeper argument doesn’t carry the weight it once did among European leaders.

So again no, it’s not about oil or imperialism or cuddling up to Al-Qaeda. It’s about racism in large part, but it’s also about legitimate fears of seeing UNHCR efforts to keep Tunisian refugee camps, already swamped with Tunisian and Libyan refugees who can’t go home just yet, collapse under a swarm of Libyans fleeing Gaddafi’s crackdown, should he have been allowed to continue it uninterrupted. (In fact, when the rebels do well, many Libyan refugees take it as a sign they can come home; on the other hand, when Gaddafi does well, it increases refugee flow.)

If the Libyan Rebels Are Al Qaeda, Why Do Al Qaeda’s Best Friends Attack Them?

2:09 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Ever since Moammar Gaddafi, the man who for decades funnelled arms and explosives to terror groups around the world (the IRA blew up lots of people with Semtex they got from Gaddafi, at a time when self-styled anti-terrorist Peter King (R-NY) was best buddies with Gaddafi’s chief IRA contacts), decided a few years ago to try to remake himself into an anti-terrorist so he could suck up to the West, one of his favorite things to do is to describe anyone he doesn’t like as Al Qaeda, or claim that anything he does against people he doesn’t like is similar to what leaders of other nations have done against Al Qaeda.

Thus, we have stories like this:

Leader Moammar Gadhafi says al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden is behind the uprising in Libya and al-Qaida followers give young Libyans hallucinogenic pills in their coffee to get them to revolt.

However, Gadaffi is keeping his options open, and claims he just might join with Al Qaeda if people don’t stop picking on him:

Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi on Tuesday ruled out negotiations with anti-government rebels, whom he described as ‘terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden,’ but warned that if the West were to attack his country, he would ally his forces with al-Qaeda in a ‘holy war’.

Gaddafi made the remarks in an interview with Milan-based daily Il Giornale from his his headquarters in the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Despite what Gaddafi and his allies insist, it looks like (as has been stated from the beginning) that tribal loyalties, not loyalties to externally-run groups such as Al Qaeda, are the prime markers of Libyan political and cultural life, and that the opposition to Gaddafi is not so much Al-Qaeda-based as tribal-based:

Derna is famous as the home of a large number of suicide bombers in Iraq. It is also deeply hostile to Gaddafi. “Residents of eastern Libya in general, and Derna in particular, view the Gaddadfa (Gaddafi’s tribe) as uneducated, uncouth interlopers from an inconsequential part of the country who have ‘stolen’ the right to rule in Libya,” US diplomats were told in 2008, in a cable since released by WikiLeaks.

And in fact, the Taliban in Afghanistan, the chief allies of Al Qaeda, aren’t at all favoring the rebels, much less the aid given them: Read the rest of this entry →