What do the people of the Middle-East and Libya really want? That is the question I found myself asking after protests took place outside of Buckingham Palace this evening. The simple answer is Freedom, and rightly so. But how they wish to get it is the debatable part. The protests organised by Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and other organisations had a clear objective; To tell Obama military intervention is not wanted.
Obama’s visit to Buckingham Palace comes the day after the escalation of Britains involvement in Libya is announced. Britain plan to send in apache helicopters, bringing the conflict closer and closer to ground despite NATO’s claims that they do not intend to send in troops. However yesterdays announcement implies that it is only a matter of time. Labour’s shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy alone has demanded a ministerial statement on the new offensive.
Libyans attending the protest were divided. Some pro-Gadaffi chanting: “Our leader, Gaddafi, our father Gaddafi” whilst there are anti-Gadaffi protestors who opposed intervention. Their placards read: “No to intervention. Victory to the revolutions”. Then there are those who are anti-Gaddafi and pro-intervention. These people were not seen at today’s protest.
Clearly there are 3 mindsets. And if there are three mindsets even here in Britain, then the same must go for Libya. As well as killing civilians, this divide of opinion should lead to questions over whether intervention is wise. Not to mention the financial expense of this war: the Guardian claimed that the war could cost British taxpayers £1bn over just 6 months.
Syrian demonstrators too were divided. Groups of pro-Assad supporters chanted “Long live Assad” whilst those supporting the uprisings chanted: “Free free Syria, Down down Assad”. BBC news reported today that “US policy on Syria depends on success in Libya”. Potentially this could mean, if Libya is successful, we will intervene in Syria too. Or as history dictates, if Libya is unsuccessful, we will intervene in Syria to form a distraction from our failure. A new venture some may call it.
The people of Britain have not expressed much reaction to what is going on in Libya. The impact of the money being spent there and the lives being lost, has not reached them yet. But as intervention escalates, and the financial costs weigh down the taxpayer, they will soon see what is happening. Let’s hope they will support the revolutions but defy intervention.