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The original sin

Opinion

July 2, 2020

The government’s controversial Prevent programme aims to stop individuals becoming terrorists, but it would be much more effective if it taught British political leaders not to engage in wars that become the seed-beds of terrorism.

Consider the case of Khairi Saadallah, the suspect in the killing of three people in a park in Reading who came to the UK as a refugee from Libya in 2012 and was granted asylum in 2018. An ID card reportedly shows that he had been a member of the Union of the February 17 Revolution, one of the paramilitary groups that had fought Muammar Gaddafi the previous year. Police and intelligence agencies say they have not discovered any current link between Mr Saadallah and jihadist organisations.

But that is not really the point: if David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and Hillary Clinton had not launched the Nato-led war to carry out regime change in Libya in 2011, it is unlikely that refugees like Saadallah would have come to Britain the following year.

The same is true of Salman Abedi, the Libyan suicide bomber who killed 22 and injured 139 people, mostly children, in the Manchester Arena in 2017. Abedi was personally responsible for this slaughter, but the British government had relaxed controls on the movements of jihadi groups like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group because MI6 saw them as useful local allies in getting rid of Gaddafi.

It is disgusting how leaders like David Cameron continue to defend the launching of the 2011 Nato intervention in Libya. It was this that led to the ongoing nine-year-long war and the chaos that produced a wave of refugees who needed help and turned the country into a haven for jihadis like Abedi. Yet this predictable consequence of foreign intervention, be it in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria, scarcely receives a mention in the wall-to-wall coverage of murders such as those in Manchester, Reading or London Bridge. The media emphasis is on grief and “communities coming together”, a highly convenient response from the point of view of the British government as its own blundering role in turning Libya into place of permanent war is forgotten or is considered irrelevant.

Gaddafi was a dictator but however horrific the conditions under his rule, Libyans are now at the mercy of merciless local warlords who are proxies for foreign powers pursuing their own egocentric interests. This week Turkey and Egypt, and the coalitions they lead, are close to an all-out proxy war as they face off against each other at Sirte, close to where Gaddafi was killed.

This all-consuming violence is not mentioned by the leaders who did so much to bring it about. David Cameron boasts in his autobiography For The Record that, thanks to his efforts, American, British and French aircraft stopped the advance of Gaddafi’s tanks.

Excerpted from: 'The Blundering British Political Class has Shown the Same Incompetence in Both Fighting Wars and Coronavirus'.

Counterpunch.org