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Mugabe attacks NATO over Libya intervention

Over the past week, Muammar al-Qaddafi‘s African friends have cut the former Libyan ruler loose, and grudgingly recognized his NATO-backed rebel movement, the National Transitional Council, as Libya’s legitimate rulers. But Africa’s latest fallen leader is not without his defenders — particularly among a generation of aging rulers who came of age in the same ...

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Over the past week, Muammar al-Qaddafi‘s African friends have cut the former Libyan ruler loose, and grudgingly recognized his NATO-backed rebel movement, the National Transitional Council, as Libya’s legitimate rulers.

But Africa’s latest fallen leader is not without his defenders — particularly among a generation of aging rulers who came of age in the same era of national liberation.

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s long-ruling leader, today launched a bitter attack against the NATO-backed war against Qaddafi, denouncing the Western military alliance and the “blatant, illegal, brutal, and callous NATO’s murderous bombings.”

“Here we see NATO bombing places, seeking, hunting, and hounding the children of Qaddafi,” he said. “Have the alleged sins of father now been visited on the sons? Have the children lost their right to life?”

Mugabe joined others like Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who is serving as the president of the African Union, in charging the military coalition with overstepping its U.N. mandate to protect civilians, and taking sides in a civil war. And South African leader Jacob Zuma faulted NATO for ignoring his own efforts to mediate a peace deal between Qaddafi and the opposition.

“Our African Union would never have presumed to impose a leadership on the fraternal people of Libya as NATO countries have illegally sought to do,” Mugabe said. “At the very least, the African Union would have wished to join those principled members of this august body who preferred an immediate cease fire and peaceful dialogue in Libya.”

Mugabe alleged that the West was motivated by a quest for oil deals in Libya. The new government may indeed look favorable on its new allies, but the United States, Britain, and other Western businesses had already secured access to Libya’s oil industry under Qaddafi’s rule.

“The real motive for their aggression against Libya was to control and own its abundant fuel resources. What a shame!” Mugabe said. “Yesterday, it was Iraq and Bush and were the liars and aggressors as they made unfounded allegations of possessions of weapons of mass destructions. This time it is the NATO countries that are the liars and aggressors as they make similarly unfounded allegations of destruction of civilians’ lives by Qaddafi.”

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, provided a spirited defense of the U.N. role in Libya, saying the international community bore a responsibility in helping Libyan’s risking their lives to shake Qaddafi’s repressive regime.

“Libyans liberated themselves,” he said. “Ordinary Libyans came together and showed incredible resilience and bravery as they rose up” and drove Qaddafi from power. They prevented Benghazi and other besieged cities from “joining Srebrenica and Rwanda in history’s painful roll call of massacre the world failed to prevent.”

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

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