The tragedies in Tripoli


            The pictures from Tripoli are bitter sweet. For every picture of someone happy that the dictator has been pulled down and his cruelty limited, there is a picture of lawlessness. We see  more deaths and injuries, and  apparently indiscriminate firing of a wide range of weapons.

             The sooner the transitional government establishes some kind of control the better. The sooner the people can be disarmed and well trained forces of order can be in charge, the better. It is not going to be an easy task. It is one best carried out by those directly involved, not by UK  or US forces. If the new state is to have a chance of winning hearts and minds, and enjoying the full loyalty of most of the people most of the time, it must not be a puppet regime of Nato. There needs to be support for a new system and form of government and constitution across the spectrum, including  from most of those who backed the previous regime.

             Nato’s task was to prevent civilian casualties where it could do so by precision intervention from the air. Nato must avoid mission creep. The heavy exchanges of fire street to street that we now witness cannot be stopped by the kind of interventions NATO is good at.

             The sooner order is established by some group of forces in Tripoli, the sooner the new government  can get on with re-establishing power supplies, water, and the other basics. Living in Tripoli in recent days must have been fraught with danger and difficulty. We all, I am sure,  wish the Lilbyan people well in re-establishing a governing authority. We hope they will choose one which is kinder to them, but it will also need to be one which exerts enough power to curb the various armed groups and individuals who are currently trying to establish their own positions in a very fluid situation.


  1. Javelin
    August 26, 2011

    An aspect that has been overlooked is the funding and influence Gaddafi had over thecAfrican Union – whislst the emphasis has been on Arab dictators we shouldn’t forget most of Aftica is ruled by very questionable Governance.

    1. rose
      August 26, 2011

      Does South Africa let us forget?

    2. Peter Campbell
      August 26, 2011

      The US is ruled by some even more questionable Governance. The EU is ruled by completely unelected officials. NATO is run by war criminals. So why should Africa be any better?

  2. barnacle bill
    August 26, 2011

    The sooner the people can be disarmed and well trained forces of order can be in charge, the better.

    Admirable sentiment Mr. Redwood, but I can’t help feeling we may soon be hearing the same statement coming from Bruxelles regarding the UK.

    1. MickC
      August 26, 2011

      Disarming the people is never ever, under any circumstances whatsoever a good thing.

      The chances of the Libyan people (in reality a number of peoples) being protected by the “forces of order” is absolutely minimal-there will be no forces of order, just partisan armed uniformed groups.

      The police in this country can’t protect people and property-what hope in Libya?

      The sooner people understand that the state will not protect them, the better. You’re on your own people-the state is not your friend.

  3. lifelogic
    August 26, 2011

    Indeed let us hope that good government can become quickly established.

  4. Gary
    August 26, 2011

    There are already nato boots on the ground. UN resolution 1973 , “just another g*ddamn piece of paper.

  5. Derek Duncan
    August 26, 2011

    What surprises me is how useless Gaddafi’s soldiers must have been. Seeing the rebels standing in the road spraying machine gunfire all around, wide open to a couple of well-aimed shots. A section of British infantry would have cleared the rebels from the streets in a few moments!

  6. javelin
    August 26, 2011

    I read a comment in Allister Heath a way back talking of the economic benefits of the Arab Spring – being lower oil prices because it undermined OPEC.

    Indeed the West is dependent on oil – BUT not as much as the Arabs. They are not only dependent on oil for their cars but also for funding their Government spending. And … there has been an increase in Government spending year on year by the Arab Kings and dictators to keep their people happy. So far they have kept their population happy and the revenue from oil has been below their spending.

    So what happens if oil prices fall – I would think its pretty obvious there’s a political / fiscal trap here. When oil prices fal then so does Arab Kings ability to “pamper” their population. The political situation will move from beneficial dictator to a malevolant one. This may have a further effect of removing the dictator, weakening OPEC and reducing oil prices. Whilst it is very well to wish lower oil prices I think this leads to a population with high expectations and no other means of income. This could lead to increased volatility in oil prices as there will be a higher risk of as a sudden revolution in the oil producing states.

    The Arabs oil producing countries are basically the like North of England – the population is dependent on tax receipts that may be forced to be reduced. One of the problems with the Arab economies is that the religion doesnt permit paying of interest on loans, hence little investment, hence no factories or industry in the Arab world. This could be seen as a good sign – that the Arabs will have to face up to the failings of their religion in suppying economic prosperity. On the other hand it could breed more resentment by religious groups. I believe both will happen by different parts of the population. The religious Arabs will resent the economically progressive Arabs from developing. Again with will lead to increased volatility in the Arab world.

    1. Tedgo
      August 26, 2011

      Some of the smaller states are investing in factories and ship and yacht production and ship repair.

  7. zorro
    August 26, 2011

    ‘Mission creep?’….more like mission trampling in size 14s all over Libya. It’s very difficult to maintain the UN resolution argument, when we have clearly been providing special forces skills to label military targets and train people. You could argue that Bomber Harris flattened parts of Germany to ‘avoid civilian casualties etc etc…’

    We have clearly chosen sides in this conflict, and the responsibility for what happens afterwards should fall squarely on those who did so.

    I will somersault backwards from M4 junction 8/9 to junction 10 if things go well for Libya in the medium term…..


  8. zorro
    August 26, 2011

    Libyans had a relatively good standard of living compared to a lot of countries and no debt. It will not go well if our banks start encouraging them to be debt slaves….


  9. StrongholdBarricades
    August 26, 2011

    Would paying all those working Libyans the equivalent of at least the UK minimum wage mean that more of them are less likely to abandon their own country and become economic migrants elsewhere?

  10. rose
    August 26, 2011

    Once again, it is Sir Andrew Green who is setting an all too rare example of common sense and responsibility, rather than dangerous idealism.

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    August 26, 2011

    JR: “Nato must avoid mission creep”

    I think it’s a little late to say that. NATO seemed to exceed its UN mandate from day one. It has not been concerned with preventing civilian causalities but with regime change. Continuing the pretence is an affront to all those not directly involved and does nothing to enhance the concept of trust in politicians. They may want the cover of “legality” to protect themselves but denying the reality of their intentions is an insult to our intelligence.

  12. WitteringWitney
    August 26, 2011

    Forgive me for returning and remounting an old hobby horse, Mr. Redwood.

    It never ceases to amaze me that our government insist in demanding freedom and democracy in other countries, whilst denying just that to its own people. Should not our government ensure its own people are happy, satisfied, protected and cared for, prior to worrying about and interfering in other countries?

    What this country needs is something you have called for:

    “There needs to be support for a new system and form of government and constitution across the spectrum, including from most of those who backed the previous regime.”

  13. cosmic
    August 26, 2011

    If you lived in Libya, would you be ready to surrender an automatic rifle if you had one? If you didn’t have one, might you not think it was a sound investment, especially as the political situation is – in the early stages of definition. Surely you would need more assurance than the government passing a firearms act.

  14. scottspeig
    August 26, 2011

    Ah, but now NATO can get to work bombing Sirte now, which really is pushing the luck on “mission creep”. In essence, I no longer trust a word of the majority of MPs in the house. In fact, I don’t trust a single cabinet minister. Backbench MPs are more trustworthy, yet I still take most of what they say with a pinch of salt.

    Until DC has gone, along with his pals on the front bench, I won’t be voting Conservative. Considering that my family all used to vote Conservative yet no longer do says it all really. The right-wing of the party need to get a good grip on the current party and give it a good shake and drag it back to the right.

  15. MajorFrustration
    August 26, 2011

    This is a side show – ” its the economy stupid” Has anybody noticed the CDS premiums and US Fed swops?

  16. Bernard Otway
    August 26, 2011

    Please note my comments on this in the last two days,as well as others.Libya is very very Tribal,as I said ALL the continent of Africa’s borders are colonial CONSTRUCTS from more than 100 years ago,Libya will split into at least 2 parts and the empty south will be anyone’s guess,BUT given that most of Algeria’s oil in in the south bordering on Libya it is very likely
    the same geological formations that hold oil are there so watch this space.What Cameron and Sarkozy were looking for in this adventure is anyone’s guess but on DC’s part I am absolutely flummoxed,at least the french midget was looking to stave off his unpopularity
    and the threat of Le Pen’s daughter next year.As for the advice DC got ???????? again as I have said before the quality of [IT] by what passes for the foreign office is AAAAAARRRRGH!!! if I was to in detail give examples from my 28 years in South Africa
    you would see they are incompetent in the main,this from innumerable conversations even now their understanding of what goes on there ,Hague will be made to look stupid very soon.I am on the phone an hour every week to the Kids/Grandkids and to all my friends and former acquaintances plus blizzards of emails pass to and fro.This Libya thing is a long haul,DC and the midget through the UN were supposedly stopping the harm to innocent civilians by Gaddafi,well now a blind eye will be turned on the same by the opposition [former] to his supporters except airpower and no fly zones mean nothing.

  17. Quietzapple
    August 26, 2011

    The transitional organisation has said they need money to arm the police.

    Disarming the populace should have a very high priority.

    1. John K
      August 27, 2011

      This would be the poulace who have just toppled the dictator? Why on earth would they give up their arms? To whom? They were under Gaddaffi’s heel, and now you expect them to give up their guns like some trusting children? Armed people are free, disarmed people are serfs. That has always been the way, everywhere in the world. Look at Britain: the areas which were not trashed by rioters were the ones where the people armed themselves and stood up for themselves. You cannot trust any state to protect you, but some people seem to prefer to live in their fantasy bubble. So be it, more fool them, but I very much doubt the newly free people of Libya will fall for it.

  18. Mike Stallard
    August 26, 2011

    I wish someone would kindly explain Saudi foreign policy.
    As soon as Bahrein (my daughter’s R&R sanctuary actually) revolted they were across the Causeway in an instant.
    Now Libya desperately needs some support, they are nowhere in sight.
    South Africa’s attitude is most interesting, don’t you think?

  19. Norman Dee
    August 26, 2011

    Best of luck collecting all those weapons, if they get 40% it will be a miracle. Post dictatorship reactions have a record of being bloody and badly managed. All the ex Russian states are good examples, and Russia itself, South Africa when the ANC came to power, Romania, Egypt will be worth watching, etc etc.
    All the African states will be out of pocket without Gaddafi, don’t look to them for much support.

  20. Neil Craig
    August 26, 2011

    I strongly suspect that if NATO had not insisted on issuing this war crimes indictment from an ICC which everybody knows is wholly controlled by the NATO powers and wholly uninterested in the concept of trials being evidence based, Gaddafi would have been willing to negotiate a habdover of power and exikle with large amounts of money.

    By making it clear that such retiral is not an option NATO is forcing the war to continue.

    Just as the total lack of evidence against Milosevic and Karadzic, or indeed Megrahi, does not affect the predetermined result of permanent incarceration. In the case of Milosevic where the lack of evidence was so particularly blatant a guilty verdict would simply have dicredited NATO. He was poisoned byRifampicin by person or persons unknown in custodywhich has pretty much the same effect.(This is all disputed by others -ed)

    The history of bin Laden or Sheik Omar and indeed Karadzic or Mao does not give reason to expect that he will be quickly disposed of. If the example of Mao is followed 20 years from now he, or his sons, might be marching back into Tripoli.

    When that happens perhaps the ICC, or its successor, will be funded by people quite different from the leaders of NATO.

  21. Bernard Otway
    August 26, 2011

    Anyone watch the former CIA man on Sky at about 1630 hrs comparing how long it took to get to Bin Laden,with the same thing now for Gaddafi ,as I said BAD NEWS will come and lots of it,expect this to take as long as Afganistan,an Al Quaeda launchpad only a few miles away from mainland Europe is a distinct possibility and France is a lot closer than we are thank God.Gaddafi even though he was a Dictator whom we only recently got together with
    was as strong as Saddam Hussein, NOW LOOK AT IRAQ.

  22. Matt
    August 26, 2011

    Once these revolutions start it’s very difficult to predict where they will end up.

    Consider Iran, at the overthrow of the Shah, the squares full of young people demonstrating, yet the country was plunged back into the dark ages, a state from which it has yet to emerge.

    Afghanistan where we assisted the Mujahedeen against the Soviets seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Egypt, since the fall of Mubarak tourism has fallen through the floor, the poor are getting poorer.
    These is increasing tension with Israel, as the new interim regime appears to police the Sinai with some reluctance, helpful to Hamas – Israel has burned its bridges, it gave this buffer zone of land back to Egypt in return for a peace settlement. My guess is that Egypt only continues relations with Israel as it is the recipient of much aid from the USA.

    When Gadhafi came to power many Libyans scraped together a living reclaiming metal from the western desert left over from World War II. Until recently Libyans, although not generally wealthy, enjoyed reasonable, living conditions, had access to schools and hospitals, as was provided by the oil wealth. No doubt that he was a monster, but he did keep fundamental Islamic fanatics at bay and he stopped funding the IRA years ago – so if we can pretend that we’ve forgiven Martin McGuiness then we can pretend that we’d forgiven the colonel. (And Mr Mandela seemed to give him a good reference)

    It’s rather like lighting the blue touch paper – you don’t know where it’s going to go for sure.

  23. Electro-Kevin
    August 26, 2011

    No-one is qualified to comment as to whether or not it is ‘worth it’ without first seeing untreated injuries inflicted by live fire.

  24. Bazman
    August 26, 2011

    The rebels will have someone’s eye out with those pick-up mounted anti aircraft weapons.

  25. BobE
    August 26, 2011

    The third European war is being fought with Money

  26. BobE
    August 26, 2011

    Bin Laden could not be caught alive. To many stories, to much infoi. Better dead and silenced.

  27. Kenneth
    August 26, 2011

    I fear that our interference has destablized the delicate tribal balance and unspoken pecking order that us in the West arrogantly ignore as we concentrate on national figures.

    I fear endless civil war and, although no-one will ever know, it may be that our interference was the greater of two evils.

  28. Bernard Otway
    August 27, 2011

    Apropos Matt above,do not be surprised if Israel took back the Sinai,the Egyptian army is as useless as ever,if I were them I would, it would give another 30 years of security on that border
    They were conned out of it in the first place ,what did it give them to hand it back.From many Jewish friends I talk to there is Serious consideration being given to this,after all WHAT could anyone do to stop it,the Israeli airforce would send the french running and we are too busy ,where have france won in military terms,remember DIE BIEN FU and what the Vietnamese did ,as Corporal Jones says in Dad’s Army “they don’t like it up em”.As for Iran
    their nuclear programme is being watched like a Hawk by Israel if they get close expect a 25 megaton explosion visible from the moon.

    Reply: An attack by Israel on Egypt would be very bad news for Middle Eastern peace.

  29. StevenL
    August 27, 2011

    “apparently indiscriminate firing of a wide range of weapons”

    Do these people not understand that when you fire an assault rifle in the air, the round comes down with enough force to kill someone? Or do they just not care?

  30. Bill
    August 27, 2011

    Manufacture fell out of favour in the UK years ago, as a general rule, although there are notable exceptions to that rule.

    My view the very best graduates in the UK don’t tend to enter manufacturing, but go into law, medicine the sciences.

    Then the best engineering graduates often become fund managers or accountants.

    In Germany there is an impressive infrastructure of engineering excellence and apprenticeships.

    Once the UK loses touch with its manufacturing rivals, catching up again becomes very difficult as the infrastructures aren’t there anymore.

    Industry needs to become fashionable again, promoted by government. We as a nation apply a different set of rules to farmers – all of the UK hill farms would go if it wasn’t for government subsidies.
    We are loading industry with increased energy costs that are avoidable.

  31. Bill
    August 27, 2011

    silly me – put this in the wrong section. I’ve put it in the correct section now sorry!

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