Notes From the Margins…

Saif Gaddafi Sleeps With the Fishes

  • May 01, 2011
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The day after Gaddafi made another ceasefire proposal, a NATO missile strike has killed his son Saif al Arab Gaddafi and three of Gaddafi’s grandchildren in what appears to have been a deliberate assassination.   Last  night’s strikes on Tripoli also damaged the Libyan Down’s Syndrome Society and a parent-funded school for children.

It isn’t known who gave the order to carry out the hit on Saif Gaddafi – because that is what it was – or whether it was carried out by a UAV or some other means.

You may not think much of the Gaddafi family or the sincerity of the Libyan leader’s ceasefire offers, but it is worth pausing to consider what has actually happened here.  UN resolution 1973 authorised NATO to ‘protect civilians and civilian populated areas.’

Throughout the NATO bombing campaign these objectives have provided humanitarian window dressing for the unstated goal of removing Gaddafi himself,  either by forcing his family to leave or by killing them.

The killing of Saif Gaddafi is only the most successful of a number of similar attacks on Tripoli that were clearly aimed at his father.

Of course democratic states running humanitarian operations do not admit to a policy of assassination.   But the politicians who charged into Libya are clearly desperate to bring this war to an end on their terms and are prepared to do anything to make it happen.

Whether Gaddafi had seriously intended the political dialogue that he outlined in his speech yesterday cannot be known.   Nor is it even clear what dialogue there can be between a dictator with so much blood on his hands and the rebels who have been on the receiving end of it.

But if Libya is to have a future there will have to be a political outcome,  if only because neither side appears strong enough to be able to achieve an outright military victory.

NATO however does not appear to be interested in dialogue or ceasefires.   It has taken sides in a civil war and it wants its side to win, and the rebels have no reason to pursue anything beyond an outright military victory.

And so  this bloody, hypocritical and utterly dishonest farce is likely to continue, and humanitarian rhetoric will continue to provide a smokescreen for a lawless policy of high-tech assassination that might would not have been out of place in a Mafia war, which in a way, is exactly what the Libyan intervention is.



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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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