Libya – a temporary distraction for the West in the Middle East

Sky News TV is leading a brilliant expose of Colonel Ghaddafi’s reign of torture. The UN has rushed to declare wide-ranging sanctions. Obama is appalled.

But where have these hordes of self-righteous protesters been until now? It is only a few months ago that CNN and Human Rights Watch were praising the regime in Tripoli.  In January 2003, Libya was elected to head the UN body on human rights and nobody muttered a word. The world was too busy condemning Israel, defending itself from Palestinian homicide bombers.

Back at Sky, they have issued an easy-to-understand map of the Middle East, explaining why so many people are revolting. No mention of the Palestinian territories. The economy in Gaza is clearly on the up, which ironically is damaging Hamas’s financial stranglehold. With amazing irony, the tourism industry in the West Bank has benefitted by the Egyptian turmoil.

So where is the West going to focus its attention next week? Well, actually if you look beyond the headlines, they are desperately trying to get back to the Palestinian Issue. Apparently, this is the main cause of instability in the Middle East, a unique spin designed to help decision makers ignore torture and riots in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Iran, and Yemen………to name but a few. 

Tony Blair has arrived in Jerusalem to help prepare for the next round of Quartet meetings and pressure Israel. Obama needs to balance helping Israel recently at the UN. According to a report in the Israeli newspaper, Yediot, the British Foreign Minister is considering recognising the state of Palestine, even if this is in direct contradiction to the commitment of both parties not to take unilateral one-sided measures.

But here’s that all misses the point.

Mohammad Bouazizi didn’t set himself on fire in December, thereby triggering Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, to express solidarity with Palestinians. Instead, his suicide was a direct response to the economic and social strictures in his own country…..The conventional wisdom that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the mother of all problems in the region has now been exposed as nothing but a myth.

What gets me is that all the efforts of the West are based on the support of moderate regimes like Egypt and Oman and Jordan, which are supposed to help convince Israel that they will ensure that no Arab country will attack it again, once Palestinian land has been given up. But these governments no longer exist or have had to back track.

Be it Hague or Blair or Ashton or Obama or Clinton, can we believe that the word “oops” – with a large O – is in their vocabulary? Or does the Libya fiasco merely provide another distraction to learn how the Middle East really works?

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One Comment on “Libya – a temporary distraction for the West in the Middle East”


  1. […] Horesh warns that contrary to Cameron’s suggested caution, Great Britain is looking to take shortcuts in the Middle East: According to a report in the Israeli newspaper, Yediot, the British Foreign Minister is […]


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