Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Libya: Why we should reserve our judgment

[This is the headline over an article by Linda S Heard, a specialist writer on Middle East affairs, published today on the Al Arabiya website. It reads in part:]

The danger for Libyan independence is that NATO member states may attempt to exact some type of quid-pro-quo from the post-Qaddafi leadership such as cheap oil and gas — or worse, permanent military bases. If NATO countries prove me wrong then I’m ready to take to the streets wrapped in the Atlantic Alliance’s flag. Right now, the signs don’t bode well on that score.

Firstly, now that the UN — and more importantly, the Arab League — has blessed the National Transitional Council (NTC) as a responsible caretaker government, there is no excuse for the NTC’s acting prime minister having to plead for the unfreezing of Libya’s assets abroad or being forced to account to foreign governments for the use those funds are put to.

Secondly, neither the US nor the UK has the moral — and doubtfully the legal — right to demand the extradition of the so-called Lockerbie Bomber Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi who has already had his day in court and who served his prison sentence in Scotland before being released on compassionate grounds. OK, so the man didn’t die from prostate cancer within the projected three months, which some in the US Congress interpreted as deceit or defiance, he’s now been tracked to his home where, hooked up to an oxygen bottle, he’s in a near-death coma.

Now some of those who were ghoulishly praying for his demise are upset because he may cheat the arm of the law. Similarly, some UK politicians have prioritized grabbing the Libyan suspected of shooting and killing Yvonne Fletcher a British policewoman in 1984 which is ironic when they’re advising the Libyan people to forgive the past and move on.

I’m comforted by the response of the NTC’s justice minister who confirmed within recent days that his government “will not give any Libyan citizen to the West” and “Al-Megrahi has already been judged once and will not be judged again.” Other council high-ups have fudged this issue. I think this will be a test of the NTC’s independence from their Western collaborators.

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