Marginalisation of the Pan African narrative and the Politics behind Humanitarian Inter(vasion) in Libya (Part 1of 2)

“Just as the forces of peace and social justice forthrightly opposed Western invasion and occupation of Iraq, we were also opposed to the leadership of Saddam Hussein. So now, we are making it clear: we oppose Gaddafi and his semi-feudal leadership just as we oppose the Western bombings” (Horace Campbell, 2011)

Not a decade has passed since the bombings and subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, and the international community has already launched a new campaign in the Middle-East. Only this time with the endorsement of the United Nations Security apparatus, with the United States having successfully convinced the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to authorise a ‘no-fly zone’ and tighten sanctions against ‘the Gaddafi regime and its supporters’. The decision by UN member states to step in militarily into the ‘Libyan crisis’ has raised serious legal, moral and political issues. Concerns have been exacerbated by the marginalisation of the AU peace resolutions, as well as the actions of UN allies in Libya, which herald a different approach by the international community to recent uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syria. Iraq and Afghanistan teach us that Western humanitarian intervention does not end with the removal of the humanitarian threats it purports to target. It is often its genesis.

This paper holds that the liberal peace narrative has been a political narrative used as a means to hijack the political economy of the military energy/industrial complex1. It has been used as a guise leading to the securitisation of the development agenda. The ‘securitisation of development’ referred to in this regards extends beyond the narrow confines of orthodox definitions: which recognise that security is a prerequisite for sustainable development. Neither does it refer to the new wave of ‘developmentisation of security’, which recognises that the security forces can and should play a role, directly or indirectly, in development (i.e. state building, civil duties).

In this instance, in the context of Libya in particular, the securitisation of development refers to the negative use of the security apparatus or the engendered violence of peace and/or development: wherein the security apparatus is essentialised and legitimised as the primary means towards development. It is this very narrative that renders nation states vulnerable to invasion: when the liberal peace doctrine is used as a guise to justify military action at the behest of the military energy/industrial complex.

Undoubtedly, the scramble for control over renewable energy reserves remains of strategic interest to lead members of the UNSC resolution 1973, particularly that of members who would later constitute ‘a coalition of the willing and able’2 and take the lead in the military invasion. With expectations of increasing global demand, especially from China, experts have long predicted that oil prices would remain relatively high in the coming years, posing serious threats on the viability of multinational commercial industries and the growth of domestic economies abroad as a whole. It’s no secret that Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, it being reported as having 44 billion barrels with oil production a per day from 1.8 million barrels of exceptionally high quality crude oil (U.S. Energy Information Administration cited in Masud, 2011). Moreover, Libya has one of the largest known untapped reserves of natural resources, some of which are renewable, that can serve to provide as alternative energy supplies, namely natural gas reserves. Even in the case of Libya, the narrative is the same: Colonel Gadaffi, once US ally now US/EU foe, alongside innocent civilians, is generally being punished for his pushing a nationalist and Pan Arab programme: one that asserts Libya’s rights to resocialise the strategic centres of its economy in a bid to ensure that the peoples of Libya enjoy equitable benefits of the dollar ($) value of their resource endowments.

As we move towards a Pan-Arab Peace narrative of the Libyan crisis, it is critical to point out the contradictions in practice in regards to Africa’s own interlocution on Libya. It is important to note that whilst the African Union should understand the ‘violence of peace doctrine’ as an extension of the military energy/industrial complex, the African Union should simultaneously and categorically opposed to massacres against Libyan civilians by Gaddafi forces. This paper holds therefore that the liberal peace narrative has been a political narrative used as a means of hijack as part of the political economy of the military energy/industrial complex.

Zukiswa Mqolomba

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