A Harvest From Imperial Wars and Neoliberal Reforms

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By Maxim Nikolenko.

“People from NATO… listen to me! You bomb the wall which didn’t pass a migration stream to Europe. The wall which stopped Al Qaeda terrorists. Libya was this wall. You have ruined it. You are idiots.”

   (Muammar Gaddafi) 

The “idiots” he was referring to did not stop the bombing. An estimated 30-60 thousand civilians were massacred by NATO bombs. The fate of Libyan leader was predestined. Gaddafi’s convoy came under bombardment from a “French aircraft” near his hometown of Sirte. Radicals were forwarded to the site. Hidden in a drainage pipe, near the town ravaged by “carpet bombing”, Gaddafi was brutally lynched by a mob of extremists whose wisdom operates the chaos of present-day Libya.

Libya, a country which enjoyed some of the highest standards of living in Africa is now only existent on the map, while on the ground is a theater of infighting between the various warlords, Islamic fanatics and the two existing Libyan governments. In recent times, Libya had also gained headlines as torture and “slave market” for thousands of refugees who use the country as staging point on their route to Europe. This year, Libyan route is the main source of refugees. For a broader time, it has also been the deadliest.

Crossing borders and the unforgiving sands of Sahara Desert are hundreds of thousands of people who enter the fractured Libya from a broader region, impoverished by neoliberal reforms, destabilized by Islamic insurgencies and former colonial masters who manipulate these elements to serve their interventionist agendas. A resulting humanitarian crisis now reflects on the powers who helped to unleash it, as that crisis enters their doorstep.

An Unprecedented Wave

While the EU is in alliance with American Empire’s foreign policy ventures, their outcome is affecting Europeans way more than their partner on other side of the Atlantic. Since 2011, after the “wall” was ruined, Europe faced an unprecedented surge in Mediterranean crossings. In period between 2011 and June of 2017, nearly 1,900,000 immigrants and refugees have entered Europe. The death toll from crossings is exceeding 16,620. There are no viable estimates of the numbers perished in the Sahara desert. They are definitely high amidst the perilous journey migrants make to enter Libya and the inhumane conditions they experience while staying in the country. Some enter from distant corners of Africa, arriving in a horrific state, malnourished and on the verge of dying.

Europe was not prepared to receive the influx. With many countries on the continent experiencing high unemployment and internal migration from Eastern Europe, which already fulfilling the role of cheap labor. Thus, the newcomers from Africa and the Middle East could expect few prospects. Their future in Europe could resemble with the present reality of many non-European immigrants living in high-unemployment areas of France, the agricultural camps of Italy and Greece, and the so-called “no-go zones” in Sweden.

2015 was the record year with 1.1 million people crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.

A spike in crime, the 2015 mass sexual assaults in Germany and the surge in terrorist attacks throughout Europe, had darkened an image of a multicultural society the EU attempted to portray. At least 329 people have died in various terrorist attacks that occurred since 2015. Deteriorating security has given rise to nationalist movements and the immigration topic became ever more mainstream in the election contests.

A warm welcome to newcomers expressed in 2015 by Germany and the wider Europe is reversing. Now, the continent is attempting to stop the influx. As a member of conservative party the Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel slowly rolled back to her 2010 stance, where she diagnosed multiculturalism as illusion and utter failure. In 2015, the Mediterranean route from Turkey to Greece served as main crossing point for people into Europe. Since then, a bribe was granted to Turkey in a deal to stop immigrants from entering Greece. Greece now hosts over 60 thousand people, many of whom are stuck in refugee camps. The Balkan route to the north is now fortified with fences. Hungarian far-right government has validated its protectionist policies with a referendum where an absolute majority of voters declined to allow refugees into the country.

It has proven much harder to stop the flow from largely lawless Libya. Thousands of people are continuing to make the dangerous journey with hundreds dying on the way.

An overall political mood on the continent is growing ever more hostile. Europe today is not the same Europe from 2015. Similarly, the magnitude of Mediterranean crisis since 2011 is incomparable to prior times.

Installing Crisis

Libya is one of many countries in the region whose sovereignty and developed have been jeopardized by the hegemony of Empire. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya reports on over 250 thousand internally displaced persons within the country. Between 1.3 and 2.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. In a country of about 7 million, 279,000 children are out of school. If the crisis continues, 30% of Libyan children risk becoming illiterate.

To the south of Libya is Niger, a country with GDP per capita barely touching $360 and the main smuggling route for people into Libya. Niger suffers from insecurity amidst the insurgency of Al Qaeda, which operates in the wider Sahel region while basing in neighboring Mali. Their expansion was facilitated by NATO-installed chaos in Libya. Radicals were given access to an abundance of military equipment and went south, destabilizing the already weak Malian government in 2013. Today, 4,000 French troops are stationed in their former colony, while Al Qaeda legitimizes their perpetual presence. The new French President, Emmanuel Macron, has recently visited Mali, or to better describe: its military base where the French troops are stationed. He reaffirmed continuation of French presence in the country to fight Al Qaeda. The chaos continues, while the displaced and economically stripped citizens will likely attempt the journey to Europe, including France.

Mali and Niger are only part of a wider foreign contingent in Africa. The United States deploys troops in 35 African countries. Indeed, a new Scramble for Africa is underway. The client governments of the West are adapting their economies to a neoliberal flow of capital investment.  An outcome can be seen in countries such as Nigeria, where the American and European corporations, along with a small circle of local elite, are profiting from countries’ vast oil reserves. The overwhelming majority, however, lives in extreme poverty. When Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was visiting Nigeria in 2016, the countries’ Northeast was experiencing a barely-reported famine; caused by Boko Haram insurgency and government of a country with highest GDP on the continent, failing to provide aid.  A silent catastrophe in Borno state was hardly mentioned in the corporate media, while the death toll could be exceeding tens of thousands. No wonder thousands of Nigerians have been crossing borders into Libya.

In recent years, Egypt’s authoritarian government has adopted the austerity measures, drafted by IMF for the 12 billion dollar loan package. Measures included devaluation of Egyptian pound. Since implementation, the exchange rate collapsed from 8 to 18 pounds for one USD. The inflation rate topped 30% and cuts to government subsidies had seriously affected the wellbeing of ordinary citizens. It will be no surprise if impoverishment of Egyptians will spike emigration.

The Middle East so far has been the biggest contributor of refugees. It came as an inevitable backlash to the destructive agendas of London, Brussels and Washington D.C.

The Anglo-American partnership has been directly involved in the destruction of Iraq for 27 years. Deadly sanctions were imposed on millions of Iraqis following Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. A CIA-installed dictator had turned into an enemy. Over a decade of embargo resulted in death of over 500,000 Iraqi children. The invasion that followed, not only brought an economic collapse, but also sectarian war and Al Qaeda. Ironically, Saddam’s unproven connection with Al Qaeda was one of the themes used to justify invasion. Over a million Iraqis were killed in war and the unknown number died in post-2011 conflict.

Many displaced Iraqis were fleeing to Syria, a secular country which was turned into a war zone. In 2011, popular movements across the authoritarian Middle East and North Africa were used with selectivity. In Libya and Syria, the popular discontent became a justifying factor for the overthrow of unfavorable to the Western hegemony governments. The uprisings in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia were ferociously suppressed.

For the seventh year, Syria is at war with Al Qaeda extremists and ISIS who had infiltrated the uprising. The West had imposed deadly sanctions and openly shows its interest in seeing the fall of Syrian government. Up to 470,000 people have died in the conflict. About 4,9 million have fled the country and at least 6.3 million are internally displaced, with an overwhelming majority seeking refuge in the government-controlled territories. The EU leadership has overwhelmingly sided with Washington on the question of Assad. Since the conflict begun, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have sought asylum in Europe. It will be ludicrous to believe that supporting destabilization of Iraq and Syria would not result in such consequences.

Same can be said about the use of extremists. The West and its clients have given support to Jihadist in Syria, and at times vividly supported ISIS: the groups with ideology blamed for terrorist attacks in France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden and the U.K.

Double Standard

In the period between May 28th and June 3rd, the day London attacks happen, the number of people killed from terrorist attacks involving Taliban, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and ISIS in the destabilized parts of the Middle East and Africa is exceeding 257. In Kabul alone, an attack has claimed 150 lives. 257 deaths in 7 days is relatively close to 329 victims of terrorist attacks in Europe in over 2 years.

Terrorism in the Muslim World has been escalating since declaration of the so-called War on Terror and reached catastrophic frequency since the formation of ISIS in parts of destabilized Syria and Iraq.

To fight terrorism, Western powers granted continuous support to the biggest sponsors of terrorism: Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The released documents by WikiLeaks show Hillary Clinton knowing about the funding terrorists, including ISIS, receive from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Solution? More arms sales to the Gulf countries. British arms are persistently being sold to Saudi Arabia, justified by Theresa May. Angela Merkel’s government, renowned for open-door policy to refugees in 2015, has been selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a country participating in the Saudi-led destruction of Yemen. U.S’s response was a new package of arms worth 109.7 billion dollars, the biggest arms deal between Washington and Riyadh.

Gulf States are also known for their horrible treatment of immigrants and reluctance to accept any refugees. Saudi Arabia has built its own 600-mile-long fence along the border with Iraq.

Arms and diplomatic cover were provided to various Jihadist factions in Syria. Even in the Western media, the so-called “rebels” who fought in Aleppo were labeled Islamist and sectarian extremists. Nevertheless, the liberation of a city by government forces received an international outcry, with lights going off on the Eiffel Tower, in solidarity with Jihadists.

In September of 2016, American planes struck Syrian government troops in the besieged by ISIS city of Deir ez-Zor. The bombing campaign lasted for over an hour and left scores of soldiers dead, with ISIS fighters immediately opening a ground offensive.

Meanwhile, a recent tragedy in Manchester where 22 people, mostly teenagers, were killed in a suicide attack, committed by Salman Abedi. He was part of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an extremist organization which existed in Manchester and was allowed to travel, helping local extremists and NATO to oust Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. The FBI repeatedly warned British intelligence about the group’s planning of attack in Britain. No action was taken to prevent the tragedy from happening.

A tragic and destructive interconnection between the Western imperial powers and the Wahhabi Islamic sect continues. An alliance between the multi-billion dollar arms industry with the foreign policy think tanks’ continues. The extremist liberalization of financial markets in favor of corporate capital is ongoing. Reversing this destructive path would mean proceeding an unprecedented political change. In the meantime, a new yield of consequences will emerge from the persisting “War Against the Third World.”