Tuesday, 30 November 2010


It looks like Muammar Gaddafi has the EU over a barrel. After years of having encouraged African migrants to seek their fortunes in his country or to use it as a stepping stobe to Europe, he has come under increasing pressure from the European Union to cut back on the numbers of migrants making for Italy and lucrative deals have been cut with the EU itself, via the International Organisation for (against) Migration, and more recently directly with his fellow autocrat Berlusconi.

At the same time he has launched his own war against his once welcome pool of cheap labour, setting up strings of detention camps and squalid prisons where tens of thousands of his fellow Africans survive some of the worst prison conditions on the continent since international approbation force his regime to quit using his previous preferred method of dealing with the 'problem' - wholesale transportation of migrants in converted container lorries to the desert borders with neighbouring countries where they were abandoned with no food, water or means of transport. Many hundreds are believe to have perished in this low-cost deportation solution.

Now, emboldened by his lucrative deal with Italy involving $5bn compensation for abuses committed during Italy's rule in Libya ($200m a year for 25 years invested in Libyan infrastructure projects) plus the loan of six fast patrol boats as part of an Italian sponsored 'push back' policy, Gaddafi is once again seeking €5bn a year from the EU in order to continue stopping African migrants from leaving Libyan shores in small leaky boats on their perilous trips across the Mediterranean.

Whilst he is right to criticise European countries for their neo-colonial attitudes in demanding that African countries open themselves up to more European exports and embrace neo-liberal free trade policies alongside 'good governance' policies (the EU argues that prosperity can only be guaranteed if Europeans don't have to pay too hefty a bribe in order to 'do business'), tying those demands to preventing "christian, white Europe" from becoming "black" is manipulative racist scaremongering of the lowest form.

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