Erdogan’s Gumption

Written by Dr. William Mallinson

Turkey seems to be the only NATO country, with the slightly coy exception of pre-election Germany, with the guts to criticise the latest ‘coalition’ bombing spree against the Moslem world, whatever its contrived diplomatic dancing with NATO, and its fear of being seen to be mistreating its Kurds. Erdogan has even accused France of seeing Libya as a source of oil, gold mines and underground treasures, and of lacking a conscience in its conduct. Even the usually robust Russians abstained on the UN Security Council vote, perhaps because Russia will benefit from the increase in the oil price, and because it has ordered top French naval technology, including aircraft carriers and other hardware. And Greece, with its ECB-IMF-controlled neo-Ottoman cleptocratic regime, has of course already offered one frigate, one radar aircraft, a Super Puma helicopter and use of various bases from which to bomb Libya, and this from a country that not so long ago was training Libyan fighter pilots!

It is a shame that the Greek government has not co-ordinated its policy with that of Germany, Russia, China, Cyprus and Turkey (notwithstanding potential complications with the latter over its own air-and sea-space), all of whom are critical of the bombardment of Libya. But it does not appear to have the gumption of Erdogan. Instead, Greece is frightened not to upset Sarkozy’s pre-electoral vain glory-seeking. The Sarkozy stance is an opportunistic U-turn, given France’s stance on the Iraq war, when Dominique de Villepin and President Chirac showed guts, and openly opposed the illegal war; the gung-ho adventure suggests a US-UK-France attempt to control the Mediterranean, through what is clearly a curiously selective and suspicious attack on a sovereign state. Russia is watching carefully, and will act when necessary, to secure its own legitimate interests. As for Greece, its diplomacy could learn a thing or two from the Turks, whatever the latter’s mistaken and illegal policy on Cyprus and the Aegean.

While Britain and France compete with each other in the military macho stakes, as they did in Yugoslavia, and the US fires its tomahawks, while claiming that it is not playing a central role, the Saudi police-state does not even allow demonstrations, while the Yemeni and Bahraini totalitarians shoot scores of their own demonstrators dead. But then Libya does not house the US navy, as Bahrain does, and does not pay billions for British and American arms, as Saudi Arabia does. One can hardly bomb good customers! Although interference in the affairs of another country is reprehensible enough, it would be less hypocritical if the ‘coalition of the willing’ were bombing the House of Saoud, Yemen, Bahrain and Israel for their human rights abuses, which outstrip those of Libya. It would also be interesting to know how the so-called ‘demonstrators’ (many are non-Libyan agents provocateurs) obtained their arms at the beginning, and why they continue to attack during a supposed ‘cease-fire’. In this sordid connexion, let us not forget that Saudi Arabia financed Saddam in his war against Iran to the tune of a mere $ 25,734,469, 885…and 80 cents, according to the superb Robert Fisk. The arms companies must be laughing all the way to the bank, knowing that all the hardware will be replaced, and that a putative post-Gaddafi client state (if the ‘coalition’ manages to kill him and his sons) will order more arms. Shareholders in certain oil companies are already licking their slavering lips, with the hoped-for goodies to come.

When British troops shot dead the unarmed demonstrators in Ulster on ‘Bloody Sunday’, did the so-called ‘international community’ lift a finger? Oh, I forgot, Gaddafi was helping the Irish freedom fighters. And did the so-called ‘international community’ do anything concrete to stop the genocide of the Tutsis, and the slaughter of Palestinian civilians in Gaza?

As the struggle for the oil around Benghazi and elsewhere continues, it will be interesting to see if it ends up as a sordid squabble between French and British oil companies, as in the dreadful Biafran war of the sixties. In the meantime, Sarkozy has undone much of the respect for France built up so carefully by de Gaulle; he has overturned in a few days what France stood for, dragging the country back to the dirty days of the Fourth Republic. Yet perhaps paradoxically, he may have signed his own political death warrant, which means we could even see a straight fight between Dominique de Villepin and Marine Le Pen in the final round of the presidential elections, with Sarkozy dropped into the dustbin of vanity, like his beloved Tony Blair has been. Watch this dirty space.