• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

UK Program to Train Libyan Soldiers Ends in ‘Disarray and Scandal’

A program by the Ministry of Defence to train Libyan soldiers has ended ahead of schedule, due to a string of criminal offences committed by several of the men. Initially planning to train two thousand troops at the Bassingbourn base in Cambridgeshire, the first group of three hundred are now being sent home – weeks in advance – and it is unlikely that the program will continue elsewhere.

Many of the original three hundred recruits were what the Guardian labels ‘former revolutionaries’, meaning rebels that fought alongside NATO in the 2011 war that destroyed Libya’s Jamahiriya  government. A Ministry of Defence spokesman claims that each of the men went through a special vetting process prior to their selection; however this does not seem to have been too successful.

Apparently ninety of the men withdrew from the program throughout the course of their stay, returning home due to personal reasons and health problems, while others are said to have had behavioural and disciplinary issues. Several more have claimed asylum. Five soldiers have been charged with various sexual offences, including the rape of a man in Cambridge by two officers.

It has been reported that many of the recruits had taken little interest in the training and were not doing what they were being asked to do. The men had been instructed not to leave their barracks, but many were seen by residents in the area scaling the fences to buy food and vodka from nearby shops. Other locals left their houses to find Libyan men hiding under their cars, causing a great sense of alarm and fear for those in the area.

Other countries that planned to train soldiers have also suffered setbacks. An American-run training camp in Libya had to be abandoned following an attack by militants, and troops trained in Italy and Turkey were not returning to the army when back in Libya but joining militant groups instead.

This episode marks another stunning success for David Cameron’s foreign policy legacy. The resource-rich African nation love the recently acquired democracy that NATO’s depleted uranium bombs brought them so much, that it now has not one, but two governments. The internationally recognised parliament was run out of Tripoli by Islamist militia Libya Dawn in August, and is now holding court in a hotel in the eastern city of Torbruk, after initially taking refuge offshore on a Greek car ferry. Meanwhile, the second, self-declared government that now resides in the capital are calling for new elections to be held; following other recent elections in 2012 and 2014.

The Ministry of Defence have pointed to the ongoing turbulence in Libya, seemingly trying to find some justification for this disastrous episode. However as yet, no one from the government has publicly acknowledged the role that our country played in the war that led to the destabilisation of a once prospering nation. Writing in CounterPunch a few days ago, Patrick Cockburn commented on Cameron’s silence regarding events in Libya since NATO’s intervention, stating that “The West intervened in somebody else’s civil war and tried to dictate who won.”

It seems rather ironic that at a time when our government is debating the possibility of stripping British citizens whom have gone to join ISIS in Syria of their passports, that we have now suffered some form of blowback from our last imperial adventure, and on our own invitation at that. Those who have been following events in Libya may also find a twisted irony in the fact that these men committed the very crimes that Gaddafi and his soldiers were falsely accused of by the interventionists in 2011. Perhaps – as Washington, and thus by default London – prepare to train and arm the next round of proxy rebels, this incident will give them pause for thought. If our leaders are incapable of successfully selecting former ‘revolutionaries’ to be brought over here, then there is little hope to think that they are adept enough to vet individuals whom they expect to fight for our interests over there. Unlikely, but perhaps.

Sophie Stephenson is an American History postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh, with a particular interest in US foreign policy and relations with the Middle East. She can be reached at: sophie_stephenson@outlook.com.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail