Yvonne Ridley, European President of the International Muslim Women’s Union has defected and become a cheerleader for Libya’s rebellion.
Ridley calls for full backing for Nato military intervention on the grounds that “it might just be regarded as a force for good”.
Perhaps she wants to fan the flickers of the Islamist component of the rebellion against the Arab nationalist Qaddafi regime. Her teary eyed witnessing of regiments of young men off to fight tyranny is reminiscent of Church of England priests blessing their flocks of young men in the First World War as they were sent over the top.
The rebellion does not need friends like Yvonne Ridley.
Any practical socialist “intervention” would be profoundly different from that practised by Nato. We do not fall in with those, like Ridley, who pick and choose the despotisms they like to support and are fully backing Nato intervention, whatever the consequences. Nor have any truck with Ridley’s ex-pals in the rump of Respect and Stop the War, who consider the Qaddafi tyranny to be a progressive bastion against UK and US imperialism.
On recent Stop the War events arguments against “imperialist intervention” have been coupled by some leftists with calls for a victorious rebellion against an “oil hungry west”, which comes down to the same thing as saying victory to Qaddafi.
Hope lies with the imminent development of pro-democratic workers’ forces in Libya, in conjunction with viral developments in Egypt and Tunisia and the utilisation of the spaces which intervention and the rebellion have already opened up. This means a truly consistent third camp approach — a question with which the rebellion itself is contending on a day to day basis.
Pro-Qaddafi forces have tried to demolish the humanitarian corridor around Yafran and Algalaa (to the west of Misrata) and escalate their attacks in the mountains on the Tunisian border. Both the French and the UK have responded by sending fleets of attack helicopters against regime forces.
Ostensibly a move to protect civilians, this looks more like an attempt to break the military stalemate now that the Misrata siege has been lifted. There have been attacks on the Bab-al-Aziziya compound with some casualties — leading to pro-regime demonstrations in the streets of Tripoli. A new phase in the intervention is beginning.
There is some political confusion in the US and the UK.
The US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman has been involved in talks with the rebels in the east whilst refusing to fully recognise the National Transitional Council.
Both Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy and the government’s Secretary for Overseas Development Andrew Mitchell have issued statements about the lack of an effective political strategy during the ongoing military campaign and potentially afterwards.
Obama and Cameron have issued what amounts to a joint statement against the Arab autocracies, calling for an increase in democracy and political liberty.
The Qaddafi regime continues to harass the civilian population. Reports from captured troops in Misrata say they were compelled to participate in gang rapes of women prisoners. Qaddafi’s security forces are keeping his cities under close surveillance; no dissent is tolerated.
The brief sparks of rebellion in the west have amounted to little so far; but any rebel military victories in the heartland of Tripolitania could signal a new set of uprisings.