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Libya peace talks were doomed from beginning

By Jehron Muhammad | Last updated: Apr 21, 2011 - 5:09:48 PM

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(FinalCall.com) - The recent African Union peace negotiations in Libya were doomed from the beginning. The Transitional National Council's (TNC), a Western powers creation, unwillingness to respect the African Union as a legitimate peace broker tells it all.

A few short months ago the world community questioned the legitimacy of the Libyan rebels fighting against Col. Gadhafi and his forces. Now as the TNC they've become the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people, even able to sell Libyan oil on the world market. Few in the media are reporting on the

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Jean Ping (center), chair of the African Union Commission, speaks at a joint press conference with the heads of major regional organizations, including the European Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the United Nations, following their conference on Libya in Cairo, Egypt. He is flanked by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) and Catherine Ashton, E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Photo: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
substantial support that Col. Gadhafi has, and the fact that what is occurring in Libya is a civil war. The western press takes its lead from NATO. The corporate media reports Col. Gadhafi's forces are killing civilians as NATO and Africom justify continued bombing. The obvious objective is to create a situation where Tripoli is unable to adequately protect itself from insurgents.

But what about the substantial support that Col. Gadhafi has in this vast North African land? It is the same as what occurred in the Ivory Coast? Laurent Gbagbo was captured and overthrown mostly by French forces so that Alassane Ouattara can lay claim to the presidency. But what is not being discussed is the 46 percent of the population in the Ivory Coast that supported Gbagbo. If some kind of unity government or deal is not negotiated with his loyal followers, a return to civil war appears almost inevitable.

The TNC, the United States and the European Union are stipulating that all peace talks with Col. Gadhafi end with him resigning. In addition, during peace negotiations with the TNC, no one in the media spoke of the behind the scenes role that the U.S. and the E.U. had in influencing the outcome of the peace negotiations. My criticism of the AU peace initiative is in order for it to have worked, it needed to first negotiate with NATO. You can't go into peace talks with the TNC's Western backers calling for the ouster of Gadhafi. It'slike trying to negotiate with middle management when theboss has already made up his mind. What's the point?

There are other questions that include the illegality of Western powers setting up the Transitional National Council as Col. Gadhafi's heir apparent. Whether one agrees with Col. Gadhafi's leadership or not, by international law, his government is the only legally representative government in Libya. Giving legitimacy to the TNC sounds more like a return to U.S. history of creating puppet regimes compliant to America's every beck and call.

A brief history will show that inside the political DNA of the United States is a preference to much rather deal with authoritarian rulers and dictators. To accuse Col. Gaddafi's 42 years of leading Libya as some kind of evil dictatorship when America has created an industry that produces puppet leaders is the height of hypocrisy. These regimes have included Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt (under Hosni Mubarak) and Djibouti, where the Pentagon's African Command has set up shop.

That history has been disastrous for Africa, beginning with the turn of the century Bandung Conference, where America's European fathers, most of whom had never been to Africa, simply divided the continent on a map on the wall.

The U.S., following in the footsteps of the imperialist criminal behavior of their European brethren, was complicit in the murder of the first legitimately elected president of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba. The U.S. then propped up dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who in turn raped, ravaged and pillaged the country. The Congo still suffers from the aftermath of the late dictator's rule to this very day. U.S. crimes against Africa also include sponsoring Jonas Savimbi's destabilization and terror campaign in Angola and support of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

According to the Non Aligned Press Network, Western leaders have consistently lied when asserting the African Union's backing of military operations in Libya. The truth is “the AU has denounced the use of force, boycotted the Paris (March 19) and London (March 29) conferences convened by the coalition and accused NATO of exceeding the UN mandate,” according to the network. The chronology of events includes obstruction of peace negotiations proposed by the AU (the coalition prevented the AU from traveling to Libya) followed by “18 days of unbridled bombardments against Libya,” according to Voitairnet.org. “The Libyan rebels' Western advisers have prodded them to reject the ‘road map.' Consequently, before ‘any' negotiation, the National Transitional Council has posed a precondition: Colonel Gadhafi's capitulation.”

Another strategy of the Western powers appears to use their support for the Benghazi-based TNC to “Balkanize” Libya and to give the U.S. and E.U. legal cover to isolate and eventually remove Col. Gadhafi from power. The only group that stands in the way is the African Union. The recent campaign to vilify the AU in the Western press is ominous. A recent report in the Christian Science Monitor even accused the AU of being “the imperialist,” not NATO.

Other media reports suggest the “despots” and “dictators” that, in some cases, make up the membership of the AU overrule its legitimacy. In addition as stated recently by a guest on NPR, the fact that Col. Gadhafi has been one of the key contributors to the AU automatically discredits the organization's ability to be an honest broker. One can make the same argument about U.S. influence on the UN Security Council. Clearly with permanent membership and veto power, the U.S. often uses its status to influence Security Council outcomes to the disregard of many of the countries that make up the United Nations.

Bringing more balance to portraits of the AU was an April 13 report by CNN's online edition entitled: “The African Union: What you need to know.” According to the report, the AU has “taken a much more active role than (its predecessor) the Organization for African Unity ever did, implementing polices to reduce poverty and corruption. And one of its most visible actions in recent years has been sending peacekeeping troops to Somalia and Darfur.”

The report also states that the relative new organization (2002) has nothing to be ashamed of. Its biggest obstacle is the lack of funds.

The AU delegation that participated in peace talks in Libya included AU Secretary General Jean Ping and the presidents of South Africa (Jacob Zuma), Mali (Amadou Toumani Toure), Mauritania (Mohamed Ould Adbel Aziz) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Denis Sassou Nguesso),

Jehron Muhammad can be reached at Africawatch53@gmail.com

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