[Letters] Europe should impose sanctions on Libya

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[Letters] Europe should impose sanctions on Libya

While Muammar el-Qaddafi’s troops continue to bludgeon, beat and brutally murder protesters in Libya, Europe’s foreign ministers have met to jointly “deplore the violence” taking place on the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli. Bully for them.

Meanwhile, people are being crushed by tanks; mourners are being gunned down at funerals and mercenaries are being flown in to subdue the opposition.

If there’s one thing Europe should be doing besides hanging its head in shame, it is imposing unprecedented sanctions upon this regime.

Freezing assets, imposing travel bans and issuing trade restrictions against Libya is the very least that Europe could do right now, especially considering how much kowtowing we’ve already done to Qaddafi and family.

But apparently this is not the case. Instead, our foreign ministers are happy to use words alone to thwart a tyrant intent on mass murder. It’s deplorable and despicable, yet a fitting denouncement to recent complicity with Colonel Qaddafi.

Since 2003, when the United Nations lifted sanctions against the regime, Tony Blair’s government and various other European powers acted swiftly to get the most out of this regime.

Business relations drastically improved between the U.K. and Libya, with Shell being awarded a major gas exploration contract and BP obtaining an even larger oil deal.

Of course, then came the controversy surrounding Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber. It seems that not a day goes by that we’re not privy to some new details further proving the British government’s involvement with his release.

Despite Libya’s oil wealth, the U.K. Department for International Development provided 2 million pounds to the country over the past five years, notably and ironically for “prison reform.”

This was done in conjunction with King’s College London, one of the U.K.’s top universities - dragging the name of more British institutions into the dirt.

The London School of Economics has also had to halt a program with Muammar’s son, Saif Qaddafi, which was due to bring in 2 million pounds of funding for the university.

Sir Howard Davies, the director of the LSE, was Tony Blair’s economic envoy to Libya in 2007. In 2009, Saif obtained his doctorate from the LSE. The cronyism continues.

But it’s not just the United Kingdom that has been benefiting from a reset in relations with Libya. The Italian government has had an incestuous relationship with Tripoli after the “Friendship Treaty” of 2008.

In return for $5 billion in funding and constructions projects, Libya agreed to tighter control of its waters near Italy and has since referred to itself as, “guards to the EU.”

So it seems clear that Europe’s priority has been to capitulate to dictators and tyrants in the search of lucrative business contracts - a woeful betrayal of the very institutions that member countries of the European Union and Council of Europe hold above our own heads like the Sword of Damocles.

What would the European Court of Human Rights have to say about this collusion? Whatever it does from here on out, it has about as much moral authority as the United Nations Human Rights Council, which boasts the membership of Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Russia, China and you guessed it, Libya. But we’ll save them for another time, shall we?


Raheem Kassam, the campaigns director for the Henry Jackson Society - Project for Democratic Geopolitics, London
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