05/13/2011, 00.00
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Prof. Del Boca: Gaddafi the target of a cynical war

by Simone Cantarini
For Angelo Del Boca, journalist and expert on Libya, the war violates UN resolutions and will last a long time, as long as Gaddafi has arms, to date only partially destroyed. NATO action is cynical and contradictory, and was initiated without recourse to diplomatic possilities. Gaddafi, a controversial figure, but a supporter of promoting African states.

Rome (AsiaNews) - The NATO war in Libya has revealed the West’s cynicism, through its excuse of coming to the aid of the Cyrenaica rebels, it is going all out to kill Gaddafi, says Angelo Del Boca university Professor, and journalist who has studied Libya and its leader for over 30 years in an interview with AsiaNews.

An awkward personality, in over 40 years in power, Gaddafi has done business with all the powers of the world and if this came to light it would be far from edifying for Europe and the West. Despite his crimes, the Libyan leader in recent years invested huge sums of money derived from oil in the development of African states. More than half of the mines on the continent are financed by the Libyan government, which repays the countries building infrastructure, hotels and religious buildings.

Meanwhile, in areas controlled by Cyrenaica rebels people are dying in assaults launched by mercenaries in the payment of the Rais and suffering from a lack of basic necessities. In Tripoli, the NATO air raids aimed at destroying military shelters and weapons stores, continue to notch up deaths and injuries among civilians. The appeals of the Pope and Bishop Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, for an immediate ceasefire and the beginning of diplomatic negotiations, go unheard. Even the world of pacifists remain silent. Here is the full text of the interview with Prof. Del Boca.

In your opinion, was the conflict between the different factions to be expected?

A civil war of this magnitude in Libya was not foreseeable. But those who know the country well know that the three regions, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan, have always been very independent and separate from each other. Cyrenaica, the area where the revolt was born, still suffers from the influence of the Senussia brotherhood (Islamic religious brotherhood founded by Muhammad ibn Ali al-Sanusi, ed.) It was the birthplace of King Idris, the first Libyan monarch and Omaral-Mukthar, the most important of the guerrilla fighters during the struggle against the Italian colonial regime. In recent years Gaddafi has often found himself in very difficult conditions. In 1996 and 2002 he had to send troops, navy, army and air force to quell riots. There have also been divisions and tensions in Fezzan, composed mainly of tribes and ethnic groups who differ greatly from those in the coastal areas. The only region that is still true to Gaddafi is Tripoli, as shown in the video that appeared in recent days, where the Rais met tribal leaders still loyal to him.

NATO, Western powers, Italy started this war to protect civilians. What do you think?

I am against this war, because I see the dark side and I think it violates the very UN resolutions for which it supposedly was started. This attack was a long time coming. France had already begun to bomb before UN approval and Resolution 1973. So the dirty interests in this war are clear. France, Britain, Italy and other countries in favour of the attack have forgotten that the colonial era is over. This armed return is a rather awful concrete sign of this, especially for Italy, which has always had close relations with Libya, during and after the colonial period. In recent years, the Gaddafi regime had passed from the "days of vengeance" to those of "friendship". However, we have preferred to launch bombs.

How would you judge Italy's involvement  in the bombing?

Our intervention is wrong for three reasons: First, our constitution in Article 11 proposes that war should not be used as an instrument to address contention. Secondly, we have a treaty of peace and cooperation with Libya and this agreement can not be set aside except with the agreement of both parties. Third, we are the former colonial power in Libya and its conquest cost the Libyans 100 thousand deaths. With such a burden, we really cannot afford to sow death again with these famous "intelligent bombs".

Is a diplomatic solution still possible?

Gaddafi has certainly committed crimes. However, in addition to bombing raids, there is another way to stop him or depose him. For example, the penalties laid down 10 years ago by the western countries worked, by forcing Libyan leader to change behaviour. With sanctions in place of the bombing, Gaddafi would have taken a step back this time. The war created strong divisions. Now the country is split in two. All oil production is in Cyrenaica. The rebels can go on for months attacking Tripoli, knowing that the oil is safe.

In recent months, there has been little effort to find a diplomatic solution, despite the mediation efforts of the African Union. Unfortunately the facts of these days show that no-one has any intention of trying to reach a truce and would rather continue a war that costs about  100 million dollars per day.

Will Gaddafi give up or try to resist?

The conflict will last as long as Gaddafi still has arms. To date, data on the destruction of the arsenals provided by NATO are mixed. At first there was talk of 30% of weapon power destroyed, but this has recently risen to 80%. In my opinion, NATO has destroyed so far just over 30% of the Rais’ arms. Gaddafi will go on until the end, he will not give up, he would prefer to die and will certainly not runaway. Those who think he is in hiding or has run away prove they do not know him. He is a character who has woven his legend for over 42 years and I do not think that he will destroy it right now.

It is said that Gaddafi was targeted because he wanted free development for Africa ...

The enormous sums of money in oil revenue, Gaddafi invested throughout almost all of the African continent and to some degree of some success. When the war is over and we have access to his ministries documents we will see that Libya has bought at least half of all Africa’s mines in precious metals like gold and silver. But also deposits of strategic materials for industry. Gaddafi made his mark on every African country, building hotels, religious buildings and infrastructure. The quotas of member countries of the African Union are almost all paid by Libya.

Many Western leaders see him as a theatrical character?

I do not think that Gaddafi could be considered a character or a clown. He always used these extravagant forms of dress and appearance for his audience, certainly not for us. His people have always wanted to see him excel and stand out. In reality he is anything but a character from the stage, but a man with a solid culture. He graduated in English language and literature in Benghazi, studied telecommunications in London and has also written books and stories. The most famous is the "Green Book", it is highly questionable, but not all African Heads of State have written books, including our own. If today I had to choose another African leader to study and consider, I would be seriously stumped.

Why is the West so united in the war on Gaddafi?

Gaddafi is certainly an awkward figure. He has done business with everyone, which if it came into the open, would certainly not be very edifying for Europe and the West. However this drive to kill him at all costs is really exaggerated. In recent weeks they have tried to kill him at least four times. NATO continues to say that Gaddafi is not the main goal. I have never seen a war a cynical as this, where the statements are the opposite of the facts and I did not expect that after Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, that we were capable of repeating the same costly mistakes.

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See also
More bombs on Tripoli. Msgr Martinelli: hopes for an end to the conflict
Bishop of Tripoli bombs and weapons are useless and divide the country. Find a way to communicate with Gaddafi
The people of Tripoli fear bombs as Gaddafi says no to dialogue
Bishop of Tripoli: NATO bombs playing into Gaddafi’s hands
Sirte, eight civilians killed during airstrikes. Apostolic vicar: "Pray for Libya"


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