After the horrible scenes we see daily on the news, it is finally clear that the madman is not going without a fight. Unlike Mubarrak, who is under army guard in his villa, Gaddafi has nowhere to run, and is now proving in deeds what his son broadcast in those terrible words. It looks as if he will do what Saddam said he would, and fight to the last. Unlike Saddam however, he has the means and the fanatical support of some to do this.Ninety British subjects in Libya are trapped with around three hundred other foreign nationals in a camp too far from Tripoli to get out, with no transport, and decreasing supplies. At the very least these people need a rescue mission as soon as possible. Even The Times is calling (rightly) for the freezing of the Gaddafi family assets here in London, although no one is talking about redistribution to rebuild a shattered nation.
Around the Western World, in Boardrooms and the corridors of power, there must be a whole bunch of nervous people, not least Silvio Berlusconi and the Italian elite – lets not forget Italian investment in Libya, nor Libyan investment in FIAT. Government ministers here in Britain, from every Government since 1992 are no-doubt worried as to what may come out as to dodgy deals over getting Shell and BP concessions, including the Al-Megrahni affair, and the cosying-up to Gadaffi since the end of the 1991 Iraq War.
Yet behind the headlines, what can, indeed what should we in the west be doing?
- Much as I hate to agree with David Owen, a no-fly zone can be established by NATO forces over Libya. This needs to be U.N. sanctioned, and my suspicion is that neither China nor Russia will agree. Nonetheless we must try. Once applied in Bosnia and Iraq, no-fly zones prevented, or at least lessened the slaughter.
- Hit tyrants where it really hurts – in the pocket. Freeze their assets right now.
- Mount a rescue operation for the trapped workers too far from Tripoli. This is not impossible, nor impractical, as the operation could be mounted from NATO bases in Southern Italy. If Israel could rescue hostages from Entebbe in Uganda, surely we could do the same now.
- Demonstrate outside the Libyan Embassy – as ordinary citizens, show our support for freedom.
- Stop emasculating The World Service. Increasingly, we see the shutting-down of the internet and international TV broadcasts as a tool of repression. This that the good old short-wave World Service can be the ONLY reliable and trusted source of news. The cuts being made now are simply madness.
- Support Refugee and Dissident groups. Instead of shutting down these centres, like Hammersmith and Fulham Council, now is the time to engage and nurture them.
- Support democratic organisations in the regions. Civil groups, Trades Unions, feminists, democratic political parties need money and support right now. Show solidarity wherever and whenever you can.