Friday, 16 September 2011

When is a revolution not a revolution?

Our national media has been falling over itself to congratulate the West for its role in the Libyan “revolution” and the “liberation” of the Libyan people. The Sun has spoken of “ecstatic crowds” of “freed Libyans” and the Metro has described how David Cameron was given a “heroes’ welcome” on his visit to Benghazi. It is, as the Times declared, “a revolution ... as revolutions used to be”.

Today’s newspapers were dominated with pictures of Cameron alongside fellow freedom fighter Nicolas Sarkhozy and Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chair of the National Transitional Council, and part of the “new” Libyan leadership. Jalil – like a number of the National Transitional Council – previously served in Gaddafi’s government. Mahmoud Jibril was a keen advocate of liberalisation and privatisation during his time as head of the National Economic Development Board under Gaddafi whilst Jalil himself was Minister of Justice from 2007-2011. Numerous others were educated in Western countries such as France and America. The only difference is - where Gaddafi sought to deny external access to Libya’s natural resources and oil reserves - the Transitional Council will be far more sympathetic to Western economic interest.

And so, as racist violence sweeps Libya and corporate vultures circle Libya’s abundant natural wealth, it makes you wonder how deep and meaningful a revolution can be when key figures served as part of the overthrown administration and others were educated abroad? NATO prevented Gaddafi’s predicted genocide with a barrage of brutal airstrikes and terrors comparable to those of the Gaddafi regime. Perhaps this is a revolution that’s going full circle.

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