Viewpoint by Kalinga Seneviratne
SINGAPORE. 27 September 2023 (IDN) — Catastrophic floods in Libya this month have killed over 10,000 people, according to estimates, due to a burst of a dam, weak infrastructure, and a lack of governance created by NATO’s bombing campaign over a decade ago to overthrow the long-serving Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and bring “democracy” to the North African country.
In a compassionate mindset to the tremendous suffering of the Libyan people, former US President Obama—who authorized the NATO bombing of Libya—has sent out an appeal through his foundation for people to come forward to help. In an X (formerly Twitter) message, the Obama Foundation said, “The toll of this natural disaster is unimaginable, and support is desperately needed.”.
Responding to his appeal, science journalist Dr. Simon Goddek said in a X posting: “These funds wouldn’t have been needed if you hadn’t bombed Libya, setting it back to the Stone Age, just to remove someone who opposed your agenda and wanted to introduce a gold-backed currency in Africa”.
In 2011, after the US and UK succeeded in arm-twisting Russia and China from casting a veto at the UN Security Council against imposing a ‘no-fly zone’ in Libya, they violated it themselves when the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) bombed installations and communities loyal to Gaddafi, killing tens of thousands of people in a campaign that lasted months and destroyed much of the infrastructure Gaddafi has built.
What happened to 150 billion?
When Gaddafi was overthrown, Libya had some $150 billion deposited in a Western bank, earmarked to launch an African Monetary Fund. No one is asking today what happened to that money, while Obama, who spearheaded this “crime against humanity,” is now trying to portray himself as a saint trying to help desperate people.
The flood havoc began after Hurricane Daniel hit northeastern Libya on 10 September. Since NATO intervention to bring “democracy” to Libya, the country has become ungovernable with no functioning government. Libyan people have been trying to flee the country via boats across the Mediterranean Sea, putting themselves at the mercy of human traffickers —thousands have perished trying to escape the mystery of Libya today.
With stark images of the failure of another Western-led democracy project starring at your face, some of the Western media such as the Washington Post have the audacity to blame the Libyan people for their current plight. “The volatility of recent years meant the country’s separate regimes and their feckless officials have left critical infrastructure in a state of neglect,” it said. This included the dams, which, it did say, the experts have warned could soon fail, but did not try to analyze logically why such a state of neglect exists.
UK-based independent media watchdog ‘Media Lens’ noted that a major reason for the appalling death toll in the Libyan city of Derna was that two dams had collapsed, sending 30 million cubic meters of water into the city in ‘tsunami-like waves.’ These dams were built in the 1970s under Gaddafi’s rule to protect the local population. A Turkish firm had been contracted in 2007 to maintain the dams, but this work stopped after NATO’s 2011 bombing campaign. “The Turkish firm left the country, their machinery was stolen and all work on the dams ended,” noted ‘Media Lens’.
Media Lens argues that the current international mainstream media news is “at best, there is token mention. At worst, there is a deeply deceitful and cynical rewriting of history”. It points out that NATO bombing has deliberately destroyed a Libyan water system that was well maintained and that, prior to NATO’s war against Libya, it had been “one of Africa’s most advanced countries,” which it ceased to be when NATO brought “democracy” to Libya.
Libya was one of the world’s richest
Sri Lankan political analyst Shenali Waduge argued in an article in ‘Lanka Guardian’ in October 2011 (while warning Sri Lankans to be mindful of such democracy projects) that the world needs to know what Gaddafi gave Libyans even though his rule is often described in the western media as a “dictatorship”.
She noted that education in Libya was free to everyone from elementary school to university and post-graduate study, at home or abroad. Libyans enjoy free health care, in the ratio of one doctor per 673 citizens. Libya ranked 53rd on the Human Development Index (out of 170 UN member states), making it a “high human development” country with free electricity.
Before the international sanction placed on Gaddafi and Libya in the 1980s, it was one of the richest in the world by GDP per capita – with a higher living standard than Japan. It was the richest in Africa before “democracy” arrived in 2011. “Libya had no external debt, and its reserves amount to $150 billion—now frozen globally”, notes Waduge (no one knows what is happening to it).
At the time of his overthrow, according to statistics widely available, 25% of Libyans had a university degree. Young people used to go overseas to study at Libyan government costs—mainly to Europe—and return to serve the country. Ironically, they are trying to flee the country to go to Europe today, and many have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to make the journey.
Former war correspondent and 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges, in an article on his website Scheerpost, argues that “humanitarian imperialism” has created the current Libyan nightmare. He points out that Libya was “once the most prosperous and one of the most stable countries in Africa,” and now it has been reduced to a fragmented country. “There are currently two rival regimes battling for control in Libya, along with an array of rogue militias,” he notes.
“Western regime-change carried out in the name of human rights under the doctrine of R2P (Responsibility to Protect), destroyed Libya—as it did Iraq—as a unified and stable nation,” argues Hedges, in a damning indictment of NATO intervention, blaming the Obama administration for this humanitarian intervention disaster. He says Western corporate media (for which he used to work) has banished him from writing on these issues, and thus, he has to depend on his website to publish these articles.
“The flood victims are part of the tens of thousands of Libyan dead resulting from our “humanitarian intervention,” which rendered disaster relief non-existent. We bear responsibility for Libya’s prolonged suffering,” argues Hedges. “But once we wreak havoc on a country in the name of saving its persecuted—regardless of whether they are being persecuted or not—we forget they exist”.
The only way they will come to the picture is if the West could paint itself as the humanitarian savior.
Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett a column published by RT channel points out that to whitewash its crimes against the Libyan people, the US and Canada send “aid” to Libya to assist in flood recovery. She noted that the US is sending $ 11 million for humanitarian aid to Libya while having reportedly spent $1.65 billion in destroying the country in 2011. And Canada is sending a paltry $5 million to aid Libyans “in a moment of dire needs” (as they put it), after having spent about $350 million “to participate in NATO’s destruction of Libya”. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: The floods in northeastern Libya have displaced more than 43,000 people | USAR Spain.
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