It seems a lot of people have been scratching their heads about how quickly and vigorously some countries (particularly France and the UK) leapt to say Gaddafi should leave Libya and sought to support the Libyan rebels. It is only a matter of months ago that Gaddafi was being welcomed back into the fold of world leaders.
I remembered today that the ‘Union for the Mediterranean’ project was part of Sarkozy’s election campaign. Simply put, it is designed to be an extension of the European Union, open to all countries bordering on the Mediterranean sea. At first it was ONLY bordering countries but, following objections by Germany, the whole of the EU is now included.
This is interesting for several reasons:
- Sarkozy was easily the most aggressive world leader, proposing military intervention beyond a no-fly zone before anyone else and recognising the un-elected Libyan rebel leadership as the sole representatives of Libya
- Lebanon, one of the UfM’s members tabled the UN resolution for military intervention in Libya
- Germany is one of the least supportive EU states concerning the current no-fly zone & military activities (perhaps they have less to gain than UK, France, Lebanon?)
- Libya was the only significant country with only ‘observer’ status in the UfM
- The US was very slow to support military action … and probably only changed their minds to ensure continued support in Afghanistan, etc.. They have no stake in the UfM
It seems clear from the excessive force already used by the US/UK/France and others that these countries are actually using the UN resolution (designed to protect civilians) as a cover for regime change in Libya. Their hope is that Gaddafi supporters will abandon him once they see the tide turning against him. Indeed Hilary Clinton has invited senior officials to change sides. With Gaddafi gone it will be far easier to get Libya integrated into the UfM.
Their strategy may well work, but the risk is it actually strengthens his support due to the obvious threat from ‘colonial powers’. If their sole concern was to protect civilians they would simply create a buffer around Benghazi to prevent Gaddafi’s forces from getting close and try to stop a civil war. Instead they are knowingly killing Libyan’s to completely remove all air defences. As I write the Arab League has already called an urgent meeting to review their support for the intervention. Russia has condemned the additional violence and the African Union (who were never asked) also moved to condemn the massive use of force. Libya now potentially faces an extended Guerrilla civil war lasting a very long time and causing far more deaths, injuries and human suffering than a genuine attempt to stop any conflict.
But this is all irrelevant, the reality is they want Gaddafi out … if they can’t achieve that, they’ll settle for splitting the East of Libya from the West (the East has more oil). Many believe this is really about oil, as we’re not intervening in Yemen, Zimbabwe, etc. but perhaps it is actually more to do with the additional economic power that will come with the Union for the Mediterranean added on to the existing EU. This could be more about keeping China & others out than getting cheap oil. The fact we’re already exporting (by force?) such an imperfect and arguably undemocratic model like the EU is very worrying indeed!
Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry regarding the Union for the Mediterranean.
UPDATE: A far more researched article on the same subject can be found here