The warplanes of the western allies are now over Libya. The French seem first into the fray. They have their one aircraft carrier (which, to be fair, is one more than the UK has) in theatre. Norway is sending 6 F16s and the Canadians, as ever, are not shirking from the battle. Of course, it will come down the Americans to deliver the crucial weight. It always does.
The Arab league supports the No Fly Zone although, so far, there are no warplanes from the Arab League countries. Saudi Arabia has squadrons of F15s and Egypt could easily lend a hand.
Britain’s role in all of this is interesting.
Britain and Libya have history.
Gaddafi came to power in 1969 in a coup that toppled King Idris. The Libyan monarch was a client of the British state in the Post War pre-Suez period when it hadn’t occurred to the Westminster elite that their imperial days were really over.
Now the British military personnel are back in action in a part of North Africa that their grandfathers knew well.
The RAF has deployed Tornadoes and Typhoons to the combined effort. These are, like Norway’s F16s land based air assets. They don’t fly from aircraft carriers because, dear reader, Britannia wot roolz the waves don’t ‘ave any of ‘em…
The planes of several nations, including Britain, are now going to come to close quarters with Gaddafi.
The reasonable person in the UK might well be forgiven for feeling a bit puzzled by all of this.
The No Fly Zone has been brought in because bad guy Gaddafi is killing his own people and must be stopped.
This is of course the same Gaddafi that organised the biggest mass murder in British history at Lockerbie and armed the UK’s sworn enemy the IRA.
It is very strange then that, up until this current local difficulty for the Tripoli regime, that Britain had been training his army.
British firms like BP were doing deals with him.
Since 2005 UK arms deals to Libya have totalled €119 Million. The inventory included tear gas, military planes and small arms.
Then, of course, there is the small matter of releasing the “terminally ill” Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi who is now having a new mansion built for him in the nice part of town.
As I said the reasonable person in the UK, untutored in these nuanced matters of statecraft, could be forgiven for feeling that British lives mean so little to the British state.
We should not, of course, be surprised that this appalling rapprochement is the work of one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.