Sunday, March 27, 2011

The U.N and the Principle of Unanimity

The U.N and the Principle of Unanimity

I do not pretend to be unmindful of the fact that there are no laws to which the UN can be held accountable or bound. In reality, the UN is no different from the Arab League or the African Union in most aspects, or as some would argue, any other cult for that matter, except perhaps for its global outreach and universal immunity. Yet, it imposes reality on the entire peoples of the world by way of its enactments or resolutions without being accountable for them or subjected to any form of oversight. It also pursues these resolutions, remedially, by way of its International Court at The Hague. True, there is a reliance on member nations to help determine, propose, facilitate and enforce its resolutions but that notwithstanding, it becomes the judge, jury and executioner by virtue of its god-like impositions on our world. I argue that there has to be proper checks and oversight that negate the rights of select nations to veto decisions of majority of its members.

Let me make bold to say that there is nothing democratic about the self-granting rights of select nations to veto majority decisions of its Security Council and Assembly or that of the Security Council to impose its decisions on the majority of UN members and the world at large. For one nation, or in concert with a minority of nations, among several, considered equal in the eyes of that Assembly, to undo the decisions of its majority members cannot be anything but dictatorial. It grants to these select nations the right to virtually impose their will on the majority there assembled and by extension on our whole planet (the rule of great power unanimity).

The right to veto decisions for select nations therefore assures an outcome that is far from impartial and as agreed upon by majority of its members. Taking it a step backwards, it should also be true to say that the constituting of a Security Council, and by this, the imposition of that Council's decisions on the majority of its members does nothing but to deny the sovereign equality of all its members. Clearly, envisaging this is to understand that the right to veto decisions granted to a minority and the constituting of a Security Council (consisting of such a minority) deny respect for the principle of equal rights and the cultivation of friendly relations among nations. In a conference of peers and equals, a simple majority must carry the vote.

The purposes of the UN according to its Charter are:

To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.

To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.

To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

It further declares that in pursuit of these purposes, it shall act in accordance with the following principles amongst others:

The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.

Chapter IV Article 12, paragraph 1 of the UN Charter states:

"While the Security Council is exercising in respect of any dispute or situation the functions assigned to it in the present Charter, the General Assembly shall not make any recommendation with regard to that dispute or situation unless the Security Council so requests."

In other words, once the Security Council sits in deliberation it asserts all the powers of a Monarchy and cannot be interrupted, questioned or confronted, be it in matters of procedure, observation or misrepresentation, by the General Assembly which consists of all members to the UN. Whether it has sat in error or is exercising in respect of a fundamentally flawed or fraudulent presentation the process cannot be stopped or interrupted. Put another way, the conduct of the Security Council in sitting overrules whatever objections the UN may have to the continuation of that exercise. Surely, this does not depict, by any coloration or consideration, "the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members."

The UN Charter decrees that "The Security Council shall consist of fifteen Members of the United Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly shall elect ten other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council." and further to this; "Decisions of the Security Council on procedural matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members" which can be overruled by one of any five permanent members. To be sure, the Security Council does not consist of fifteen members by these allocations. You do not become a resident of a house by virtue of your visiting it from time to time, which in effect is the position of the non-permanent members of that Council. It is the permanent members that constitute residents of the Security Council. This essence is further conveyed by the fact that the right to veto is invested in these permanent members and they are expected to be at the UN at all times.

These five nations plus any other four non-permanent members sit in judgment over our entire world through the UN and by virtue of their exclusivity in passing decisions or judgments. More importantly, one nation amongst fifteen can impose its refusal on all members of Council, the UN and our world. I say the entire world because curiously also, the UN maintains in Chapter 1 Article 2, paragraph 6 of its Charter, as noted above that:

"The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security."

It bears gratuitous arrogance for a club of nations to impose its "principles" on nations that do not wish or seek to be part of its membership or involve themselves with its rules and purposes. As we can see already, the Security Council consists at its helm of super-powers (read great powers) and what I term emergent super-powers. The intention is clear and it is one that deliberately seeks to intimidate or coerce non-members with their military, economic, diplomatic and political clout, likewise its membership.

You may want to know how the five permanent members attained their distinctive status at the UN. After World War II, nations that won the war convened with the aim of putting an end to that kind of war. The solution they arrived at was the UN and in setting it up they granted themselves permanent seats on its Security Council. It was not obtained by majority votes of its members or their consent but by sheer clout and the concept of "great power unanimity". The concept of "great powers" also birthed their rights to veto. This concept takes it for granted that "great powers" possess a different kind of influence and ability that set them apart from smaller nations which in turn subject smaller nations to their will and opinions. The first time this concept came into recognition was at the signing of the Treaty of Chaumont in 1814 and thereafter has been formally adopted by the UN.

Article 27 of the United Nations Charter states:

(1) Each member of the Security Council shall have one vote.

(2) Decisions of the Security Council on procedural matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members.

(3) Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting

This is to say, despite the fact that members of the Security Council shall have one vote each and a majority of nine to move on procedural matters, all other matters must include the "Yea" votes of the five permanent members to pass, except where a member is party to the dispute. Where one permanent member abstains or votes against, it is considered a veto and that motion fails for all matters not procedural. Consider also, that five out of nine votes maintains a constant majority in Council and the hue of a conspiring dictatorship becomes vivid. In effect, out of fifteen members therein and of the ten votes allotted to non-permanent members only five votes count for all matters that are not procedural. What this means is for all matters not procedural, the opinion of non-permanent members do not count since their votes are subject to the concurring votes of the five permanent members. The only time these votes are given effect is when permanent members want it to count.

Undoubtedly, there is a conspiracy and interest among permanent members to preserve the principle of unanimity and by it, force or persuade their collective or individual will on matters of particular or general interest to them. Assuredly, the intent and motive is to ensure control of the UN at all times while safeguarding their positions and national interests from within. The principle of unanimity also guarantees the inability of member nations to move against permanent members, even where their actions are found to constitute a danger to international peace and security or is said to breach the territorial integrity of another state.

The obvious conclusion here is there are no votes at the Security Council except those of its permanent members for all matters that are not procedural, everything else are straws cast to the wind. It is in this light that Resolution 1973 has to be understood. It is ambiguous and evasive for the UN to call for "all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."

Even while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form, it should be clear that the expression "all necessary measures" provides cover for interference in the internal affairs of another member state. It is an open-ended expression that provides no boundaries to contain proxy insertions into an independent state. We know for a fact that weapons and logistics are now flowing into Eastern Libya from Egypt and that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are providing financial aid to the rebels in Benghazi. These actions are nothing but the blatant and deliberate interference in the internal affairs of a member state to which the UN specifically forbids itself and members to pursue.

The ambiguous wordings and clandestine objectives of Resolution 1973 would not have been possible without the conniving input and votes of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. To the contrary, this cannot be said to "… bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace." nor does it "achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character…"and it certainly does not make for "… harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends."

There is not the whiff of a doubt in my mind that the UN pretends to that which it is not. Until such a time that mechanism is put in place to guarantee the votes and functionality of its member nations it will remain essentially another organ that pampers the great powers of the Western world.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Libya: Kill Teams In Humanitarian Garb?

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Libya: Kill Teams in Humanitarian Garb?

On March 20th 2003 Western forces launched their “Shock and Awe” attack on Iraq, heavily bombarding Baghdad and elsewhere, massacring hundreds if not thousands of innocent men, women and children. On March 20th 2011 the very same forces attacked Libya, beginning what many believe will be yet another mass slaughter.

What is obvious to all but the most duped and apathetic is that once again we have another war launched by the imperialist powers thinly veiled as a “humanitarian intervention”, dressed up as a mission of peace driven by the use of heavy bombardment and murder, where the truth lies diametrically opposed to the propaganda being pushed by the mainstream media. Nothing is what it seems; the lies and deceptions are as Orwellian as ever. The similarities with Iraq go well beyond the date of the opening salvo – indeed, there are many consistencies between the current attack on Libya and numerous other military interventions and acts of aggression carried out by the US, NATO and their allies in recent years.

The propaganda currently being pumped out by the mainstream media, led by the usual suspects in the American corporate press and the liars and sycophants over at the BBC, is essentially a re-run of the Iraq invasions and Kosovo: a largely fabricated case for humanitarian intervention based on violence stoked by special forces troops and covert operations, with the consistent demonisation of the leader recast as a mass murdering tyrant to justify a heavy saturation bombing campaign in the name of human rights and justice. Any historical context that might cast the so-called “Allies” in a negative light – for instance large-scale sales of weapons to the new enemy figure – is carefully omitted from the narrative.

The assault on Iraq during the first Gulf War was launched on the back of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait – an invasion carried out with the tacit support of the US, who then betrayed their puppet dictator and launched a huge slaughter, killing more than 100,000 people. The war was sold to the American public with a horror story in which Iraqi troops were accused of throwing Kuwaiti babies out of hospital incubators. Trouble is, the story was a complete fabrication, utilizing fake testimony from an unnamed nurse who turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States, coached by the pubic relations firm Hill & Knowlton, a company with a track record of providing services to notorious human rights abusers around the globe. And let’s not forget the fabricated “evidence” to justify the 2003 invasion – the non-existent WMDs, the yellow cake from Niger, the repeated, false association between Saddam and 9/11 … all since proven to be lies, and the occupation continues…

In Kosovo, the Western media went all out saturating their broadcasts of a photograph of a thin man behind a fence accompanied by cries of “concentration camps!” The truth was rather different: the ITN film crew were on the inside of a refugee camp, and had asked the man to take his top off to pose for the camera. The photo was another propaganda coup from the so-called “free press” of the West, which eventually led to a lethal 78 day bombing campaign which caused a fragmentation of the region from which they have yet to recover. Around the same time, NATO member Turkey – receiving some 80% of their arms from the Clinton administration – proceeded to murder, torture and massacre Kurds in untold numbers. There was no call for a humanitarian intervention there – after all, they were our allies.

In addition to such fabrications, the Western media conveniently omitted any mention of CIA/MI6 use of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA-UCK) to instigate violence in the region, subsequently used as part of the justification for the NATO “humanitarian intervention”. It should be noted that since this campaign KLA leaders such as Hashim Thaci and Agim Ceku have been tied to criminal syndicates involved in arms, drugs, and human trafficking, prostitution and illegal organ harvesting, in addition to the numerous war crimes carried out under the auspices of NATO.

This blatant criminalization of Kosovo politics was carried out with the full consent of the EU and the US. It should also be noted that the US themselves described the KLA as a terrorist organization up until 1998, when Bill Clinton reclassified them as “freedom fighters” and unleashed them on the Serbs. NATO’s strategy of high altitude bombing quickly moved from legitimate military targets to the wholesale destruction of infrastructure, hospitals, television stations and civilians – all in the name of “humanitarian intervention” … And as the historical record now shows, the refugee crisis and the swathe of massacres was precipitated by the NATO bombing campaign.

Similarly, the media build-up to the current attack on Libya has been characterised by the same level of fabricated propaganda against a backdrop of covert actions utilising known terrorist groups. The rebellion against Colonel Qaddafi, which the mainstream media would have us believe is a completely independent and organic grassroots uprising against a brutal oppressor, has actually been manipulated by agents from the CIA, MI6 and covert special forces groups such as the SAS for a number of weeks. A team of British SAS were recently arrested by Libyan rebels, echoing the arrest of SAS soldiers in Bazra in 2005, equipped with weapons, explosives and Arab-looking disguises, caught shooting at an Iraqi police checkpoint, in a textbook example of divide and rule tactics.

Arms and al-Qaida-affiliated fighters have also been flowing into the country to fuel the insurrection from Saudi Arabia and Egypt directly from NATO and other Western sources in an attempt to foment the overthrow of Qaddafi. There are additional reports that Israeli-affiliated African mercenaries have also infiltrated Libya to support the attempted insurrection. It is the reaction of the Libyan government – a completely justified response to a violent insurrection aided by agents from foreign governments with reciprocal force – that the Western press is characterising as the oppression of unarmed protesters.

Stories of atrocities carried out by Qaddafi have also turned out to be of questionable veracity, for instance the accusation that Qaddafi was using his air force to strafe crowds of protesters. These accusations remain unsupported, but that hasn’t stopped them being repeated ad nauseum across the mainstream media. If there is a grain of truth in them (and it’s not simply a case of Qaddafi’s forces legitimately striking back at armed, Western-backed “rebels”), one has to wonder why such a supposedly unpopular leader has recently handed out 1 million machine guns to the public to fight against a foreign occupation. Hardly the tactics of a dictator fearing overthrow from within. Perhaps the media will release photographic or video evidence supporting their claims, but if the past is anything to go by … well, perhaps they won’t.
Fox News got in on the act of making things up recently as well, using the well worn “human shields” hoax popular amongst defenders of Israeli barbarism towards the Palestinians. Fortunately, CNN correspondent Nic Robertson set the records straight.

A predictable but entirely unfounded response to the above observations is the accusation of being a Qaddafi sympathizer. Those who make such accusations are guilty of obfuscation and missing the broader point.

Certainly, Qaddafi is no angel – likewise Slobodan Milošević and Saddam Hussein were guilty of despotism, crimes against humanity and more. But those who make such charges miss the irony of their rhetoric, given that they support the unbridled use of violence by far more powerful military forces against largely civilian populations, leading to death tolls that far exceed those committed by the puppet dictators they seek to overthrow. That these dictators and despots committed their own atrocities with weapons supplied by Western nations is never mentioned, for doing so would lay bare their hypocrisy. “We must kill to avoid killing,” is the ideology they promote, oblivious to the inherent contradiction that lies within.

This hypocrisy is plain to see in the recent release of photos of American troops in Afghanistan posing for trophy shots with murdered civilians. While the BBC are busy ramming down the throats of the public endless news about our impressive fighter planes and their “precision” bombing and manufacturing tales of massacres at the hands of Qaddafi, photos such as this are completely ignored:

US Army "Kill Team" pose with with murdered civilians
And of course, there’s little mention of the genuinely brutal oppression in places like Bahrain, where the Saudi military were called in to massacre protesters there, or the recent outbreak of airstrikes and incursions into Gaza by the IDF over the weekend. Because they’re our “allies” and their crimes – like our own – are completely permissible.
Just another day in the Empire...

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

No-fly zone: The kite that won't fly

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No fly-zone: The kite that won't fly

What is immediately striking about the bipartisan call in Washington for a no-fly zone and air strikes designed to help rebel forces in Libya is the absence of any concern with the relevance of international law or the authority of the United Nations. None in authority take the trouble to construct some kind of legal rationalization. The ‘realists’ in command, and echoed by the mainstream media, do not feel any need to provide even a legal fig leaf before embarking on aggressive warfare.

It should be obvious that a no-fly zone in Libyan airspace is an act of war, as would be, of course, contemplated air strikes on fortifications of the Qaddafi forces. The core legal obligation of the UN Charter requires member states to refrain from any use of force unless it can be justified as self-defense after a cross-border armed attack or mandated by a decision of the UN Security Council. Neither of these conditions authorizing a legal use of force is remotely present, and yet the discussion proceeds in the media and Washington circles as if the only questions worth discussing pertain to feasibility, costs, risks, and a possible backlash in the Arab world. The imperial mentality is not inclined to discuss the question of legality, much less show behavioral respect for the constraints embedded in international law.

Can it not be argued that in situations of humanitarian emergency ‘a state of exception’ exists allowing an intervention to be carried out by a coalition of the willing, provided it doesn’t make the situation worse? Was not this the essential moral/political rationale for NATO’s Kosovo War in 1999, and didn’t that probably spare the majority Albanian population in Kosovo from a bloody episode of ethnic cleansing at the hands of the embattled Serb occupiers? Hard cases make bad precedents, as is well known. But even bad precedents need to find a justification in the circumstances of a new claimed situation of claimed exception, or else there would a strong reinforcement for the public impression that the powerful act as they will without even pausing to make a principled argument for a proposed departure from the normal legal regime of restraint.

With respect to Libya, we need to take account of the fact that the Qaddafi government, however distasteful on humanitarian grounds, remains the lawful diplomatic representative of a sovereign state, and any international use of force even by the UN, much less a state or group of states, would constitute an unlawful intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, prohibited by Article 2(7) of the UN Charter unless expressly authorized by the Security Council as essential for the sake of international peace and security. Beyond this, there is no assurance that an intervention, if undertaken, would lessen the suffering of the Libyan people or bring to power a regime more respectful of human rights and dedicated to democratic participation.

The record of military intervention during the last several decades is one of almost unbroken failure if either the human costs or political outcomes are taken into proper account. Such interventionary experience in the Islamic world during the last fifty years makes it impossible to sustain the burden of persuasion that would be needed to justify an anti-regime intervention in Libya in some ethically and legally persuasive way.

There are also serious credibility concerns. As has been widely noted in recent weeks, the United States has had no second thoughts about supporting oppressive regimes throughout the region for decades, and is widely resented for this role by the various anti-regime movements. Qaddafi’s crimes against humanity were never a secret, and certainly widely known by European and American intelligence services. Even high profile liberal intellectuals in Britain and the United States welcomed invitations to Tripoli during the last several years, apparently without a blink of conscience, accepting consulting fees and shamelessly writing positive assessments that praised the softening authoritarianism in Libya. Perhaps that is what Joseph Nye, one of the most prominent of these recent good will visitors to Tripoli, would call a private use of ‘smart power,’ commending Qaddafi for renouncing his anti-West posture, for making deals for oil and weapons, and most of all for abandoning what some now say was at most a phantom nuclear weapons program.

Some Beltway pundits are insisting on talk shows that the interventionists, after faltering in the region, want to get on the right side of history before it is too late. But what is the right side of history in Libya seems quite different than what it is in Bahrain or Jordan, and, for that matter, throughout the region. History seems to flow according to the same river currents as does oil! Elsewhere, the effort is to restore stability with minimal concessions to the reformist demands, hoping to get away with a political touch-up that is designed to convert the insurrectionists of yesterday into the bureaucrats of tomorrow.

Mahmoud Mamdani has taught us to distinguish ‘good Muslims’ from ‘bad Muslims,’ and now we are being instructed to distinguish ‘good autocrats’ from ‘bad autocrats.’ By this definition, only the pro-regime elements in Libya and Iran qualify as bad autocrats, and their structures must at least be shaken if they cannot be broken. What distinguishes these regimes? It does not seem to be that their degree of oppressiveness is more pervasive and severe than is the case for the others. Other considerations give more insight: access and pricing of oil, arms sales, security of Israel, relationship to the neoliberal world economy.

What I find most disturbing is that despite the failures of counterinsurgency thinking and practice, American foreign policy gurus continue to contemplate intervention in post-colonial societies without scruples or the slightest show of sensitivity to historical experience, not even the recognition that national resistance in the post-colonial world has consistently neutralized the advantages of superior hard power deployed by the intervening power. The most that has been heard is a whispered expression of concern by the relatively circumspect Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, that it may not be prudent at this time for the United States to intervene in yet another Islamic country.

The absence of any learning from Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq is startling, underscored by the glorification of General David Petraeus who rose to military stardom soon after he was credited with refurbishing the army’s approach to counterinsurgency, which is the Pentagon jargon for pro-regime intervention. Major current illustrations are Afghanistan, Iraq, and several other places in the Middle East. Technically speaking, the proposed intervention in Libya is not an instance of counterinsurgency, but is rather a pro-insurgency intervention, as has also been the case with the covert destabilization efforts that continue in Iran.

It is easier to understand the professional resistance to learning from past failure on the part of military commanders as it is their life work, but the civilian politicians deserve not a whit of sympathy. Among the most ardent advocates of intervention in Libya are the last Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, the supposedly independent Joe Lieberman, and the Obama Democrat John Kerry. It seems that many of the Republicans focused on the deficit although cutting public expenditures punishes the poor at a time of widespread unemployment and home foreclosures would not mind ponying up countless billions to finance acts of war in Libya. There exists a worrying readiness to throw money and weapons at an overseas conflict, seemingly as to show that imperial geopolitics is not yet dead despite the growing evidence of American decline.

In the end, I suppose we have to hope that those more cautious imperial voices that base their opposition to intervention on feasibility concerns carry the day!

What I am mainly decrying here in the Libyan debate are three kinds of policy failure:

(1) the exclusion of international law and the United Nations from relevance to national debates about international uses of force;

(2) the absence of respect for the dynamics of self-determination in societies of the South;

(3) the refusal to heed the ethics and politics appropriate for a post-colonial world order that is being de-Westernized and is becoming increasingly multi-polar.

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Sunday, March 06, 2011

Ghaddafi's Great Water Project that piques the West and America

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Ghaddafi's Great Water Project that piques the West and America

Col. Muammar Qaddafi told the celebrants: ``After this achievement, American threats against Libya will double.... The United States will make excuses, [but] the real reason is to stop this achievement, to keep the people of Libya oppressed.'' Qaddafi presented the project to the cheering crowd as a gift to the Third World.

The 1st of September marks the anniversary of the opening of the major stage of Libya's Great Man-Made River Project. This incredibly huge and successful water scheme is virtually unknown in the West, yet it rivals and even surpasses all our greatest development projects. The leader of the so-called advanced countries, the United States of America cannot bring itself to acknowledge Libya's Great Man-Made River. The West refuses to recognize that a small country, with a population no more than four million, can construct anything so large without borrowing a single cent from the international banks.

...In the 1960s during oil exploration deep in the southern Libyan desert, vast reservoirs of high quality water were discovered in the form of aquifers. ... In Libya there are four major underground basins, these being the Kufra basin, the Sirt basin, the Morzuk basin and the Hamada basin, the first three of which contain combined reserves of 35,000 cubic kilometres of water. These vast reserves offer almost unlimited amounts of water for the Libyan people.

The people of Libya under the guidance of their leader, Colonel Muammar Al Qadhafi, initiated a series of scientific studies on the possibility of accessing this vast ocean of fresh water. Early consideration was given to developing new agricultural projects close to the sources of the water, in the desert. However, it was realized that on the scale required to provide products for self sufficiency, a very large infrastructure organization would be required. In addition to this, a major redistribution of the population from the coastal belt would be necessary. The alternative was to 'bring the water to the people'.

In October 1983, the Great Man-made River Authority was created and invested with the responsibility of taking water from the aquifers in the south, and conveying it by the most economical and practical means for use, predominantly for irrigation, in the Libyan coastal belt.

By 1996 the Great Man-Made River Project had reached one of its final stages, the gushing forth of sweet unpolluted water to the homes and gardens of the citizens of Libya's capital Tripoli. Louis Farrakhan, who took part in the opening ceremony of this important stage of the project, described the Great Man-Made River as "another miracle in the desert." Speaking at the inauguration ceremony to an audience that included Libyans and many foreign guests, Col. Qadhafi said the project "was the biggest answer to America... who accuse us of being concerned with terrorism."

The Great Man-Made River, as the largest water transport project ever undertaken, has been described as the "eighth wonder of the world". It carries more than five million cubic metres of water per day across the desert to coastal areas, vastly increasing the amount of arable land. The total cost of the huge project is expected to exceed $25 billion (US).

Consisting of a network of pipes buried underground to eliminate evaporation, four meters in diameter, the project extends for four thousand kilometres far deep into the desert. All material is locally engineered and manufactured. Underground water is pumped from 270 wells hundreds of meters deep into reservoirs that feed the network. The cost of one cubic meter of water equals 35 cents. The cubic meter of desalinized water is $3.75. Scientists estimate the amount of water to be equivalent to the flow of 200 years of water in the Nile River.

The goal of the Libyan Arab people, embodied in the Great Man-Made River project, is to make Libya a source of agricultural abundance, capable of producing adequate food and water to supply its own needs and to share with neighboring countries. In short, the River is literally Libya's 'meal ticket' to self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency?!? Absolutely Not Allowed. Banksters don't like that sort of thing one bit. This project has been in the works for many years. Have you ever heard of it? We had not until today.

Libya turns on the Great Man-Made River, by Marcia Merry, Printed in the Executive Intelligence Review, September 1991

A gala ceremony was held in Libya at the end of August, at which Libyan leaders 'turned on the tap' of the Great Man-Made River, the water pipeline/viaduct project designed to bring millions of liters of water from beneath the Sahara Desert, northward to the Benghazi region on the Mediterranean coast. The inauguration marked the end of Phase I of the project, which is slated for completion in 1996.

Under the giant scheme, water is pumped from aquifers under the Sahara in the southern part of the country, where underground water resources extend into Egypt and Sudan. Then the water is transported by reinforced concrete pipeline to northern destinations. Construction on the first phase started in 1984, and cost about $5 billion. The completed project may total $25 billion. South Korean construction experts built the huge pipes in Libya by some of the most modern techniques. The engineering feat involves collecting water from 270 wells in east central Libya, and transporting it through about 2,000 kilometers of pipeline to Benghazi and Sirte.

The new 'river' brings 2 million cubic meters of water a day. At completion, the system will involve 4,000 kilometers of pipepines, and two aqueducts of some 1,000 kilometers. Joining in celebrating the inauguration of the artificial river were dozens of Arab and African heads of state and hundreds of other foreign diplomats and delegations. Among them were Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, King Hassan of Morocco, the head of Sudan, Gen. Omar El Beshir, and Djibouti's President Hassan Julied.

Col. Muammar Qaddafi told the celebrants: ``After this achievement, American threats against Libya will double.... The United States will make excuses, [but] the real reason is to stop this achievement, to keep the people of Libya oppressed.'' Qaddafi presented the project to the cheering crowd as a gift to the Third World.

Mubarak spoke at the ceremony and stressed the regional importance of the project. Qaddafi has called on Egyptian farmers to come and work in Libya, where there are only 4 million inhabitants. Egypt's population of 55 million is crowded in narrow bands along the Nile River and delta region. Over the last 20 years, the water improvement projects envisioned for Egypt, which could provide more water and more hectares of agricultural and residential land, have been repeatedly sabotaged by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and the Anglo-American financial interests behind them.

In the 1970s, Qaddafi expelled many Egyptian families from Libya, but over the recent months the two countries have become close once again. There are plans to build a railway line to facilitate travel back and forth. There is also a standing commission between Sudan and Libya for integrating economic activity.

Over 95% of Libya is desert, and the new water sources can open up thousands of hectares of irrigated farmland. At present over 80% of the country's agriculture production comes from the coastal regions, where local aquifers have been over-pumped, and salt water intrusion is taking place. The Great Man-Made River will relieve this.

The water now flowing will immediately supplement supplies for domestic and industrial needs in Benghazi and Sirte. But Libyan officials plan for 80% of the overall project's flow to eventually be used for irrigating old farms, and reclaiming some desert lands. Since 20% of Libya's imports are foodstuffs, expanded water supplies are a means to greater self-sufficiency.

The Great Man-Made River project and its objectives fly in the face of the water-control schemes sanctioned by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These institutions have blocked work on other great projects such as the Jonglei Canal; the huge ditch that was designed as a straight channel on the upper White Nile in southern Sudan. The Jonglei Canal, which stands half-finished and abandoned at present, would have drained swamplands, aided agriculture, transportation, power resources, and health, and provided expanded flow to the Nile River all the way down to Egypt. The World Bank and the U.S. State Department are backing a 'Middle East Water Summit' in Turkey this November, which is intended to promote only politically favored projects such as desalination plants in Saudi Arabia, and water shortages elsewhere.

London and Washington circles were apoplectic about the opening of the new Libyan water project. The London Financial Times ran criticisms of the project from Angus Henley of the London-based Middle East Economic Digest. The pipeline, he said, was "Qaddafi's pet project. He wants to be seen as something other than the scourge of the West." The Financial Times called the project Qaddafi's "pipe dream", stating that critics may be awed by the engineering involved, "But they regard the dream as a monument to vanity that makes little economic sense in a country where the U.N. Development Program says 94.6% of territory is desert wasteland."

If it is vanity that motivated the project, at least the vanity of Libya's Head of State is being channeled in a productive direction in this case, which is more than can be said of the leaders of Britain and the United States.

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