The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster has begun to take evidence about the failure of HMG to secure compensation for victims of Libyan Semtex and arms.
At the same time, many people on social media hold extreme views about the admission of refugees into the UK. They see things in ‘them and us’ terms. They appear to be confident as to who is our friend and who is our enemy. Consequently they argue that we should not admit the majority of refugees, because ‘what are the arab states doing?’ This presupposes that all arabs are friends, which is incorrect and that all arabs are our enemies.
I am no expert on the Middle East but it might be useful to examine the UK relationship with Libya, as a case in point.
Libya was an artificial creation by the Italians. They merged three countries and governed them as a colony.
After independence from Italy, who you might remember was our enemy then our ally in WW1 , then our enemy, then our ally in WW2; it was ruled by a monarchy.
In 1969 a military coup overthrew the king. Gadafy emerged as the strong man of the plotters and became head of state. Interestingly his manual for oppression was a “green book”, where have I heard of that before?
Gadafy used increasing oil income to be the thorn in the flesh of the West and a friend of the Soviet Union. He began to sponsor terrorism.
So he was not our friend.
So much so that on 5th April 1986 he bombed the La Belle Disco in West Berlin.
On 15th April 1986 the USA bombed Libya, using some aircraft which had taken off from British bases. This was not actually required for the mission but Thatcher wanted to show solidarity with Reagan against the dastardly Gadafy.
The bombing annoyed Gadafy. His adopted daughter was killed.
In March 1987 he told the Observer newspaper that he had increased arms supplies to PIRA, in response to the bombing.
PIRA were now the beneficiaries of new arms, lots of money and for the first time, Semtex, a deadly explosive which Gadafy had purchased from the the Czechs.
PIRA were required to demonstrate gratitude to their sponsors. What better target than two Remembrance celebrations? PIRA put these up and Gadafy was well pleased.
McGuinness was instrumental in the organisation of these operations and the committee heard today from Mr Donaldson about that. One bomb exploded, in Enniskilen, killing 12 people. The other bomb failed to explode.
That was Gadfly’s revenge for the USA bombing. Pan Am followed in December 1998 and UTA in September 1989.
So what to do about a nasty person? Kill him!
In 1993 Al Qaeda carried out the first attack on the world Trade Center. Al Qaeda were a bad lot.
Then in 1996 they were paid by HMG to assassinate Gadafy. They failed.
So, I hope you are following, Al Qaeda good, Gadafy bad…..repeat!
Twin Towers , November 2001, carried out by …..?
In 2003 the West cosied up to Gadfy. In March 2004 he became our new faithful friend. Blair went to Libya and snogged Gadafy in a tent. [Blair’s career has not looked back, surely the most useful kiss in Christendom?]
British firms flocked to Libya and were well rewarded. Gadafy told the Brits exactly what he had given PIRA…that wasn’t nice was it? So De Chastelain knew what had not been decommissioned and so did all the parties.
The victims of Libyan sponsored terrorism filed a claim in the USA in 2006.
In 2008 Blair and HMG ensured that we did not get paid.
The UK ambassador was promoting the City of London as a place for Libya to lodge $9 billion of its funds. In 1996 the City had been bombed, using Libyan Semtex.
More lucrative contracts followed for British firms. Our new friend was the nicest chap.
Then came the Arab Spring, it arrived in Libya in 2011 and HMG changed sides and bombed their friend’s army. Gadafy was murdered.
Oh well, some friends you lose!
Now, HMG are doing lots of business with Libya while the foreign secretary tells the House of Commons that there is nobody to talk to about compensation.
So, my questions to the hard men of the refugee crisis.
- Who are our friends?
- If you were Johnny Foreigner, would you trust Her Britannic Majesty’s Government?
- Who do you trust?
The Victims’ spokesmen were articulate today. If you cannot trust the State to protect you, who can you trust? This may now be a naive attitude but twenty five years ago the scales had not fallen from the eyes of the people.