Ministers warned: Get out of Libya

11 November 2011 - 12:00am
Press release

‘Iraq war, occupation lessons must be learned’

The UK government will be warned tonight that Libyan hopes for peace and prosperity will suffer if Britain repeats its mistakes in Iraq by meddling in the country’s post-Gaddafi future.

The warning comes from author Greg Muttitt, whose new book shows strategic oil interests shaped the American and British occupation of Iraq - namely to shape the global oil market and weaken OPEC, the oil producing and exporting countries.

His talk, at a public meeting organised by the Edinburgh Stop the War campaign, follows hard on the heels of UK business minister Mark Prisk’s announcement of arrangements for a trade mission aimed at selling arms to Libya.

The book, Fuel on the Fire, has been described by Naomi Klein as “nothing short of a secret history of the war”, and discloses hundreds of unreleased government documents to reveal how the occupying powers sought to return Iraq’s industry to multinational companies for the first time since its nationalisation in the seventies.

Mr Muttitt, campaigns and policy director at the anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: “Many of us suspected that oil was secretly behind the war and occupation – now we have the details of how and why.

 “There’s a powerful lesson from Iraq that I try to draw out in the book, which is as the West tried to create a political system in Iraq that reflected their interests, they created something that was a disaster for Iraqis.

“It led to sectarian killing on a horrific scale, and now a completely dysfunctional and corrupt government that is neither willing nor able to provide the services its people need.

“Most people still, after eight and a half years, have electricity for less than four hours a day, and many don’t have safe drinking water. So the lesson from Iraq is that Western ideas of what a Libyan democracy should look like are unlikely to be in the interests of Libyans, and may lead to greater problems over the long term.

"Everyone’s saying now, when we shape Libya’s stabilisation and Libya’s democracy, we have to learn the lessons from Iraq. The real lesson is not how to intervene better – it is to stop intervening. Libya’s future is best left to the Libyans to decide.”

The meeting starts at 7.30 pm in the Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, EH1 1EL.


NOTE TO EDITORS: Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, published by Bodley Head. is available, price £14.99, from Amazon and bookshops.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7324 5054 or (+44) (0)7983 550728. pcollins@waronwant.org

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