Imperial dreams and Libyan reality

The news that the Ministry of Defence has suspended a training programme for Libyan soldiers after the conviction of a number of Libyan recruits for sex offences should come as no surprise to anyone.

It all began in June with the arrival of the first cadets, many of them former members of the Nato-armed militias that brought down the Gaddafi government, as part of a British scheme to train some 2,000 troops for the national army.

But trouble soon started. Some of the officers simply walked out of the Bassingbourn barracks in East Anglia and went home. Twenty or so have applied for political asylum and others have been arrested on theft and rape charges. The police were forced to mount special patrols around the barracks which were also reinforced with Scottish troops to, as the MoD put it “bolster security and reassure the local population”.

Libya was once one of the most prosperous countries in Africa and the Arab world. Its oil wealth was used to provide full employment, free medical care, housing and education. Child mortality rates dropped from 70 per 1,000 live births in 1980 to 19 in 2009. Life expectancy rose from 61 to 74 years of age during the same span of years. By 2010 that had risen to 77.

When the “Arab Spring” started the imperialists posed as the friends of the Libyan people to get a mandate at the United Nations Security Council, giving undertakings to the Russian and Chinese governments which were soon broken, and the mandate was used to sanction Nato support for the overthrow of the Gaddafi government by Libyan reactionaries in imperialist pay.

The Anglo-French assault on Libya in 2011 which toppled the Gaddafi government was supported by US imperialism and egged on by the “human rights” gang who claimed that Nato bombing would lead to a new, “free” Libya. In fact it plunged the country into anarchy and destitution.

In Gaddafi’s day tens of thousands of Africans and Filipinos flocked to Libya for work at rates and conditions far superior to those offered in other Arab states and the Libyan government gave generous financial assistance for development in Africa. Now a million Libyans work in Egypt. Another million have been forced to seek sustenance in the rest of the Arab world. Others scrabble to get on death-trap boats to seek work in the European Union.

In the southern deserts tribal militias loyal to the Gaddafi family continue the fight while the rest of the country is being torn apart by war-lords and rival sectarian militias controlled by the House of Saud and the Qatari royal family, who are at loggerheads over who should be the top dog in the feudal Arab camp.

The Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, warned his people of what would happen in a televised address to the “duped young people” who were taking to the streets to demand his resignation. “If you want to live in this chaos, it’s up to you,” he said.

In fact it wasn’t up to them, it was up to the imperialists whose warplanes and special forces brought down the Libyan government, which had long been a thorn in the flesh of imperialism and Gaddafi was cut down fighting in November 2011.

The Libyan cadets are now being sent back home. The locals are glad to see the back of them and so are we. But is it really surprising that these allegedly “carefully chosen” men turned out to be nothing more than a worthless rabble drawn from the dregs of Libyan society?