Hama Tuma

Libya has now another new Ethiopian image—the sad face of the Ethiopian born nanny burnt by boiling water by the wife of Kaddafi’s son (Hannibal), the same one who was accused in Genève of beating his servants and in London of punching his wife (alas, she being the same one who never paid her Ethiopian nanny but burnt her whole body with boiling water). Libya was previously distinguished by its racist and brutal treatment of refugees and foreign workers (Ethiopians included), the rape of foreign worker women (and men) too. An unsavory place, a grotesque regime.


And yet, we also remember the tyrant in Tripoli was a close ally of Tony Blair (the British premier who had a penchant for brutal dictators like Meles Zenawi), of Berlusconi, of Washington too. Times change and some are now alleging that the revolt by the people in Benghazi was itself concocted by the secret services of these Western countries. Be that as it may, it was time for the dictator to go (though he is still resisting proving at least he is not an isolated tyrant like some others in Africa) and the big media machine was unleashed against him, his decadent family and his brutal regime. There were even hints of Khadafy being of Jewish origin! His regime was blamed for atrocities against foreigners, especially African workers, though the so called rebels did not spare the lives of the same. In a country that is one third black the declaration that blacks are Khadafy’s mercenaries has led to violent killings in yet another expression of Arab racism against black Africans. Remember the brutal pogrom type attack by Libyans against black Africans in 2000?


The Libyan situation has highlighted many points that will continue to be of relevance for the whole of Africa. The first one is the affirmed marginalization of the so called African Union. The marginalization and irrelevance was so total as to make every African who had ever imagined a role for the AU to weep in shame. Instead of a role for the AU, Libya’s fate, as in Cote d’Ivoire, was decided by the West, by NATO specifically. NATO bombed and attacked Libya with a vengeance that brought to mind not any concern for democracy but colonial wrath. The rag tag force generally presented as “rebels” was assisted by French Foreign Legionnaires, British SAS and American SEAL special troops. The rebels complained of shortage of ammunition but spent thousands of rounds shooting into the air as they shouted Allah Akbar. The NTC was set up with urgency and disparate personalities, quite a few of them late hour turncoats, became its ministers or leaders. What exactly is this rebel force, this NATO patchwork? Coming weeks will reveal the inherent weakness of this body and the very possibility of an imploding Libya. For the moment, the whole focus is on getting the nemesis of the West ( the North African Saddam, to be hanged or shot to death), assuring as it is now declared that the NATO countries get the lion’s share of the Libyan oil and reconstruction contracts.


The whole event can also be taken as the new version of the perennial African coup except that this time it is a NATO coup. The sovereignty of an African country is trampled upon as the West arms its own rebels or puppets to overthrow a regime in the name of democracy. Sure enough, some perpetually naïve African souls living in Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and other countries under brutal dictatorships may hope for a NATO coup. Alas they will be waiting for Godot. The pro West dictators like Meles Zenawi do not get bombed but financed and supported by the West. Those who get accused of crimes against humanity by the poodle of the West, Ocampo by name, will not be the masters of genocide and massacres  like Meles and Nguema (or Kissinger and Dick Cheney) but the unfortunate ones who have fallen out of favor vis a vis the West. American war mongering in Iraq did not bring democracy. The situation in Afghanistan is worse and the search for a negotiation with the Taliban augurs bad days to come for the Afghan people as a whole and especially women. In Libya, it is not the democrats who head the rebellion but those who are already clamoring for a Constitution based on the Sharia. Egyptians and Tunisians, who had their own revolutions, are still struggling not to be deprived of their full victory by the military (as in 1974 in Ethiopia) or by pseudo democrats with little concern for sovereignty and dignity of their people.


It is safe to conclude that not many Libyans, who had to endure 42 years of dictatorship, or peoples of the world will cry for the misfortune of the Khadafy regime. Not now anyway. Khadafy had irked the West by advocating measures that would have affected the West’s desire for hegemony over our continent. Mineral and oil rich countries are now openly at the mercy of NATO. No one will come to the rescue of the Congolese that are being murdered for their minerals. Omar Beshir and Robert Mugabe can shake in their boots. Meles Zenawi, Nguema and others within the Western hegemonic embrace can sigh contented. Even Bashir Assad has been tolerated to no end. The message is clear. The NATO coup is not for democracy but for western hegemony. Is the scramble for Africa back?



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