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Canada in Libya served as ‘Al-Qaeda’s air force’

March 20, 2015

The Canadian military knew that bombing Libya in 2011 to oust Muammar Gaddafi would lead to chaos, destruction and civil war in that country. The revelations come from documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen that describe Canada’s role as being part of “Al-Qaeda’s air force.”
Unfortunately, these predictions came true. The removal of Gaddafi unleashed scores of heavily armed militias that have wreaked havoc and have spawned the first ISIS affiliate outside of Iraq and Syria.
Hijacking revolution
The Libyan revolution began as part of the Arab Spring, based on genuine demands for social and economic change, and rapidly spread across the country. But when Gaddafi brutally repressed them (using Western weapons), the West used a “no-fly zone” that quickly morphed into a major air strike campaign that killed tens of thousands.
The reality is that NATO was, at the time, more concerned with the spread of the Arab Spring uprisings than with Gaddafi himself. They wanted to control the process of revolutions and to slow down or deflect any real change. Libya, on the border with revolutionary Egypt, provided a good option for them to assert military control over the rebellions. It was also a concern for the west to try and gain new friends on the ground in Libya to maintain some control over the country’s oil supplies.
Reducing the revolution to a military campaign against Gaddafi allowed former regime elements to pose as alternatives: Mahmoud Jibril, the former head of economic development under Gaddafi became the head of the National Transition Council. The NTC’s head of reconstruction reassured the West that “the contracts in the oil fields are absolutely sacrosanct…There is no question of revoking any contract.” This included contracts for Canadian oil giant Suncor, which also profits from the ecocidal tar sands.
All of this is a far cry from the statements made by the Harper government at the time. They were then stressing Canada’s “responsibility to protect” the civilian population in Libya. As then foreign affairs minister John Baird said, “The one thing we can say categorically is that they couldn’t be any worse than Col. Gaddafi.” Anyone questioning that line was labeled a Gaddafi supporter. Instead, hijacking the revolution retained many Gaddafi regime leaders, while also creating a chaotic vacuum that extremist groups have filled.
From Libya to Iraq and Syria
History is full of these same scenarios. There is an initial public show of support for the war because all the people have seen are the well-scripted media reports which give one side of the story. It is only years later that the truth emerges from behind the fog of war.
The current Canadian campaign against ISIS in Iraq and potentially Syria is another case in point. The current air war will perhaps slow ISIS in the short term but the ongoing destruction of both countries is what created the conditions for ISIS to grow in the first place. More bombing campaigns will not change that but will, in fact, exacerbate the problem. Meanwhile, like Libya, the military intervention in Kurdistan is also designed to undermine the broader social and economic demands of the revolution in Rojava Kurdistan.
Another irony in the Libya situation is that Gaddafi was considered to be an ally in the war against extremism in the region. In the same Citizen documents, there are repeated references to his positive role in helping to thwart alleged terror attacks. All of this was happening against a backdrop of huge investments by Canadian companies in Libya. SNC-Lavalin, the giant engineering firm had signed deals for hundreds of millions of dollars to build infrastructure projects and super prisons for the Gaddafi government. They have subsequently been charged with fraud for paying almost $50 billion in bribes to the regime.
Again, we see a clear pattern. Canadian companies will work with anyone to make a buck, including wars that benefit Canadian weapons corporations. The Canadian government will say anything it needs, even if they know it is untrue, to maintain their interests. We must keep these facts in mind as the Harper government plans to extend its role in the war in Iraq and Syria. Do we have to wait another four years before the documents are released saying that, once again we were being lied to?
Stop Harper’s war
Join the campaign to oppose the war mongering of the Harper Government. The Canadian Peace Alliance calls for:
Contact your MP and demand an end to Canadian participation in this new war in Iraq. A list of MPs is available here and you can find your MP based on your postal code here. You can contact the main federal party leaders here:
-Prime Minister Stephen Harper:, 613-992-4211, and 403-253-7990
-NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair:, 613-995-7224, and 514-736-2727
-Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau:, 613-995-8872, and 514-277-6020
Demand that the federal party leaders and your Member of Parliament:
1) Immediately call on the government to bring home any and all of the troops operating in Iraq and Syria and push for diplomatic solutions to the crisis.
2) Support Canada leaving the Friends of Syria Group and end its campaign of destabilizing Syria, including funding and arming of different resistance groups.
3) Push for the Canadian government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against U.S. Iraq war resisters and create, once and for all, a provision that would allow them to remain in Canada.
4) Redirect military spending to peace and prosperity, not war and austerity. It’s time we started spending our money on jobs not war.
If you like this article, register now for Rage Against the System, a conference of ideas to change the world, April 24-26. Sessions include “Stopping Harper’s agenda,” “Colonialism and Indigenous resistance,” and “Imperialism and resistance,”

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