Completely Surreal Hague Press Stunt 47

William Hague just gave a press conference on the big Libya conflab in London at which he obviously thought it would look good to be flanked by an Arab. So he sat next to the Prime Minister of Qatar, who solemnly told us that the Libyan people have the right to choose their own leadership. Fucking QATAR! An absolute monarchy.

This is from the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report 2009:

The emir exercises full executive power. The 2005 constitution provides for continued hereditary rule by the emir’s male branch of the Al-Thani family. Shari’a (Islamic law) is the main source of legislation. The emir approves or rejects legislation after consultation with the appointed 35-member Advisory Council and cabinet. There are no elections for national leadership, and the law forbids political parties

Rather amusingly, but completely wrongly, the State Department call this unmitigated hereditary autocracy a “constitutional monarchy”. It is also worth noting that the State Department has listed Qatar as a Tier 3 – ie absolutely terrible – country for human trafficking in bonded domestic servants. Homosexuality is illegal as are Christian religious symbols, even in churches.

Of course the chief decision of the London conference was that Qatar will take over Libya’s oil resources. I am still astounded that anybody can still be taken in by all the bullshit about democracy and human rights, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other human rights abusers in the thick of the politicking.

Finally, hours of broadcast coverage have been given to the poor woman who says she was raped by Gadaffi’s militia. I am inclinded to believe her, but it sticks in my throat that it is paraded everywhere as a justification for war. As detailed in Murder in Samarkand, rape by the security forces is a constant occurrence in our ally Karimov’s Uzbekistan, and neither these outraged western journalists nor western governments have ever said a single word about it.

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47 thoughts on “Completely Surreal Hague Press Stunt

  • Duncan_McFarlan

    Yes – bit of a joke. Cameron did the same on his arms sale trip to the Middle East, claiming that "small democracies like Kuwait can't be expected to manufacture all their own arms". Human Rights Watch also say any form of public protest is banned in Qatar and anyone involved in them jailed.

  • dreoilin

    So that's who the Arab was. I'm glad I didn't know or I'd have put my slippered foot through the TV.
    My God, the blatant, arrogant, two-faced-ness of it.

      • Clark

        Well maybe Bloody Marys rather than Hail Marys, but he's meant to put his post into a category, without me or Tim reminding him… But he keeps forgetting! I wonder what happened to Mary, who cut her own wood? There, I got three Marys into my post! Oops, that's four. I wonder why Larry decided to become YugoStiglitz? Stiglitz of the Dump, maybe?

        All together now… "Craig, Categorise!!!"

  • Ruth

    if I were you, I'd give the Libyan people a little more credit. The present regime with all its security and hardware just cannot be overthrown without help. Once it's been overthrown, do you think for one minute when there's been so much suffering and so many lives lost that the Libyan people will hand over their resources and freedom. Of course they'll be grateful but that's another matter.

    • Guest

      Some of these rebels seem remarkably well-connected.

      "The rebel group known as the Transitional National Council released a statement last week announcing that they have designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya, and that they have appointed a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi, according to Bloomberg.

      Is this the first time a revolutionary group has created a central bank while it is still in the midst of fighting the entrenched political power? It certainly seems to indicate how extraordinarily powerful central bankers have become in our era".

  • Ishmael

    When all the people can hear is "legislation! the feel they are living in a prison. Laws are created to suppress the poor. I have studied Hague for years, and although a large long term association with israeli interests exists, I feel that if he had to sell the U.K out to benefit Israel, or Jewish interests, he would back the U.K, but do it and remain friends with both sides. Much like the Singaporians did when they built the deep water port to guest Uncle Sam's battlegroups. They smoothed that over with a stroppy China, very well. I don't think he is bad at the job, but inexperienced. I have said Hague is middle callow and sometimes vague. He has always been like that. Dopey. He is mature, and has performed far better than the lefties from the past.

  • Michael.K

    The idea that our leaders give a damn about human rights and democracy in Libya, or for that matter anywhere else abroad, is absurd. Perhaps a slightly cynical view, but one based on facts and experience. Craig knows all about this.

    We seem to be very selective about which opressed peoples deserve our 'help', don't we? This doesn't mean that because we can't help everybody, we should help no one; but who decides who should get help, are there any criteria at all? Obama was very careful not to outline one, no Obama doctrine, just studied vagueness, which is very convenient. It allows one to protect friends and punish enemies at will, without the risk of being confronted with one's inconsistancy or double-standards. Intellectual hollowness and moral corruption, hidden behind a mask of fake humanitarianism in my not so humble opinion.

  • Edward

    "…it sticks in my throat that it is paraded everywhere as a justification for war."

    I agree; there is something Orwellian about the way this is being exploited. Hundreds of people have been killed in this war. Isn't that worse then this incident? It is as if we are surrounded by atrocities but we can only think about the ones the media/government chooses to focus on for its own purposes. There is no systematic and consistent treatment of crimes.

  • YugoStiglitz

    "I am inclinded to believe her, but it sticks in my throat that it is paraded everywhere as a justification for war."

    Who is using her story as a justification for the intervention? I haven't seen one politician or pundit invoke this.

    It became a media story because of the dramatic nature of its breaking.

    • Edward

      I saw a clip about this yesterday on "Mosaic", a news service which presents selections from Middle Eastern news reports. It seemed ironic to me that they were dwelling on this story when many people have been killed in this war.

  • spectral

    Excellent article at:

    General Norman Schwarzkopf commented in 1995:“
    "The first reason why we bombed the highway coming north out of Kuwait is because there was a great deal of military equipment on that highway, and I had given orders to all my commanders that I wanted every piece of Iraqi equipment that we possibly could destroy. Secondly, this was not a bunch of innocent people just trying to make their way back across the border to Iraq. This was a bunch of rapists, murderers and thugs who had raped and pillaged downtown Kuwait City and now were trying to get out of the country before they were caught."

    Sounds familiar?

    The UN, it is paravan for crime wrapped in terms and legalities which are vanguard of the death.

    I believe in her story… I believe also that Libya – now – have own Highway of Death. In both cases the victims are result of the war, and the war is hell. This war is result of somebody's will, intention, and aim. That somebody doesn't sit in Libya nor is affected by the war. I abhor those liberal interventionists who are advocating and celebrating the war like Juan Cole, and … in name of surreal concept: democracy.

  • angrysoba

    I've been a bit surprised by plucky little Qatar's rise in importance in the region. Not only does it have all the best military equipment and a very popular airline, but it also hosted the recent Asian Cup and will have the World Cup coming to its shores in the not-too-distant future and also don't forget that it is the birthplace of Al Jazeera and the home, until recently of Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

    Why doesn't it receive more criticism in more Western media? Is the power of AQPAC so all-consuming and strong that they fear criticizing Qatar?

    • Suhaylsaadi

      Qatar is an ally of the USA/UK, etc., like Dubai/ the UAE, etc., so why would it receive particular criticism from the Western media? Of course, our Neutrogena wonderboys (exemplar: David Cameron) are in bed with the Sheikhs of the Persian Gulf. 'AQPAC' (!) sounds like a Glasgow cash 'n' carry company: 'Cheap deals at AQPAC! All stock to go – but only if you buy by Fri!' It's also rather small, as you say, so maybe isn't as visible in itself as, eg. Saudi Arabia or the collective (wrong word, I know) of the UAE. Al Jazeera tends to not allude to Qatar (surprise, surprise) and so in the Western public mind the two are viewed separately; in the public mind (whatever that might be), it's not like the BBC and the UK, for instance. Qaradawi is known better for other things than living in Qatar. I guess these might the reasons. Four jets on, though, who knows…

  • angrysoba

    "Finally, hours of broadcast coverage have been given to the poor woman who says she was raped by Gadaffi’s militia."

    I don't think I've seen this story. Does anyone have a link?

    I just wonder about this because recently there was some discussion here about how the daughter of a Kuwaiti diplomat had lied about Iraqi soldiers throwing babies out of incubators when they invaded Kuwait. It was expressed that a) This is a story that was so highly disseminated that it changed popular opinion from being opposed to the liberation of Kuwait to for the liberation and b) That not a lot of people know that.

    The thing is that I don't think in either case was the case for war made on the strength of these testimonies.

    • Craig_Murray


      Of course the case is not given as the sole, or even leading, reason for war. But it is used to stoke pro-war sentiment. Just as were stories of German atrocities in Belgium in 1914, which were largely untrue.

      • angrysoba

        "Just as were stories of German atrocities in Belgium in 1914, which were largely untrue."

        Not sure if that quite works. The war was already on when the "atrocities in Belgium" stories came out. It would have to have been given that the Germans didn't invade Belgium until the war had started. It was not then, a reason for war. As much as there was a huge amount of propaganda both then and now, people in most of Europe were overjoyed about the outbreak of the war and signed up in droves.

        • Suhaylsaadi

          Re. WW1: "Oh, Oh, Oh, what bloody fools…!" 'Their fathers lied' and then got redemption by writing poems about their lies. That ruddy Kipling chap, for example. Obviously, such propaganda is used to silence dissent (and though angrysoba is correct that men signed-up in droves, there was dissent, eg. a split in the Suffragettes, etc.) at home – both before war and during it. Keep the public on-side, etc. It's nothing new, this, I mean, it's what propaganda is for, no? I'm not saying the woman in Tripoli was that, though of course I agree that there is hypocrisy wrt other places, eg. Uzbekstan.

    • Clark

      Coverage of "babies thrown from incubators"

      "Though reporters did not have access to Kuwait at the time, her testimony was regarded as credible at the time and was widely publicized. It was cited numerous times by United States senators and the president in their rationale to back Kuwait in the Gulf war."

      "Kuwait says siezure of hospital equipment caused many deaths". Reuters News. September 6, 1992.
      "Iraq equipment removal killed patients – Kuwait.". Reuters News. September 6, 1992.
      "Kuwaiti says Iraq plundered hospitals". Associated Press (North Carolina: Charlotte Observer): p. A16. September 7, 1990.
      "Official: Hospitalized in Kuwait are left to die". Associated Press (Chicago Tribune): p. 12. September 7, 1990.
      "Persian Gulf crisis – More about the Mideast". Houston Chronicle: p. A18. September 7, 1990.
      # ^ "Kuwait Says Iraq Plundered Hospitals" (Associated Press). The San Francisco Chronicle: p. A21. September 7, 1990.
      "Released Hostages Tell of Kuwait Terror" (Transcription of broadcast). All Things Considered (National Public Radio). September 7, 1990. "Total destruction everywhere, cars wrecked, burned, people thrown out of cars on the street you're driving down; they just throw people over the street. They're hitting children with the butts of the guns, taking infants out of incubators and taking the incubators."

      • angrysoba

        My God! That's horrendous! I hadn't seen that at all and it is, I think, of a very different order to the "Kuwaiti babies" story. That woman is presumably still at the tender mercies of Gaddafi's security services. I would say it is quite different to stories which are coming from emigres or defectors when there needs to be a certain amount of skepticism. In this case the woman is obviously not providing propaganda.

        As for why it is newsworthy, you have to be kidding. Any editor who suppressed it would obviously be negligent.

  • Paul Johnston

    What do people have against Al Jazeera, it's not exactly Fox News is it?
    Tell me a single media source which doesn't show bias in one way of another and the fact it was earlier this year blocked from Egypt must show something!
    On the subject of atrocities what about the one committed at Malmedy by the Americans?
    P.S. Before people slag me off try googling "malmedy atrocity o'reilly"

    • Total cynic

      `Deception` I keep wondering if Vince Cable was set up?, it may have been the other way round?, Cable came out of it smelling of roses and Rupert Murdoch got BSkyB. May well have kept Cable his seat at the next election to boot?, `a winning system ?.`

      But then, who knows the truth of anything?.

  • Uzbek from UK

    I do not believe in care for democracy nor I believe in care of Human Rights of the west. Requiring support from Qatar on morality of military actions in Libya shows in itself how low western morality has fallen. With the same success current British envoy to Uzbekistan Mr Joy is attending various events in Tashkent run by those whose hands are deep in blood and then complements the system that enslaved millions of people. Ask him and he will be surprised if you judge him for his actions. In his opinion he is just rebuilding bridges with the regime –the bridges that fall while Mr Murray was an envoy. In Joy’s mind he is just a civil servant and it is not for him to decide what is RIGHT and what is WRONG.

    It will be VERY difficult for the west to gain any kind of popular support in the middle east or elsewhere if they lose sense or morality. I am of course aware that morality has not ever existed in politics or international relations BUT at least previously it was not such clear that by all means west is just trying to colonise nations rich with mineral resources and as Prof Nail Fergusson would have said that were unfortunate enough in not developing skills of brutality when it comes to doing business.

    • Suhaylsaadi

      Mr Joy?!! What a name for such a posting! 'His Excellency, Mister Pangloss Joy'. But you know, the West did colonise just about the whole world during the period b/w the early 19th and the mid-C20th, and since then has been ferreting away like mad, engaging in systemic neocolonialism with reprises into paleo-colonialism, so what's new, really?

      • Uzbek in the UK

        I was actually referring to 2nd half of 20th century when west was engaged in the cold war with soviets. US was back then called leader of the free world. Of course in fact US were quick to occupy collonies that were vacated by British but anyway at least back then it was clearer who were good guys and who were bad guys.

        But generally you are right. There is the west and there is the rest. Interesting indeed.

  • Hatari

    The Stench of Western Hypocrisy in Libya now reeks across the world which even the transparent fig leaves provided by the Odious Qataris and Saudis can not mask.
    There are reported demonstrations in Africa, Uganda against and Asia against this intervention in Libya

    An article in The Asia Times by Pepe Escobar sums the Enterprise of Deceit very nicely.

    “It requires major suspension of disbelief that an Obama administration that keeps unleashing drones and air strikes over civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and – now and then – Somalia is now deeply concerned with protecting Libyan civilians. "Democratic" Israel may bomb 1,500 Lebanese civilians in 2006 or kill nearly 1,500 civilians in the winter of 2008/2009 in Gaza – and no way there will be a UN resolution, or Tomahawks flying, or righteous humanitarian imperialists invoking R2P (“responsibility to protect”) en masse.”
    Full Article.

  • ingo

    Utter hypocrisy at work today. radio five live had a phone in along the lines of ' why Britains human rights record is unsurpassed'
    As usual they advertised their 0500 909 693 telephone number, as they always do, but it is not in use, they are deluding the public into believeing that they actually communicate, a ruse, no more.
    Would have liked to pitch in with a littel ditty about Uzbekistan and cowards, but didn't get through to them.
    You could not make it up, I switched off when the slime bag came on to Newsnight .

    Quatar's ruler is, sorry for the analogy, is like a chosey rentboy, i.e. not the prettiest, but he only does it with western countries interest's, Arabs wanting democracy have to be nannied and can't have what they want.

    Thanks for reminding us all how this dirt bag is running his country by decree from above, Craig, some people should not take the word democracy into their mouth.

  • Oldcobblers

    Politicians are never honest about anything let alone their reasons for going into military action. I could have been forgiven for thinking we had no money but I am obviously naive.

  • evgueni

    Are foreign wars of aggression a “useful” diversion away from domestic problems?

    Our news media focus readily and almost exclusively on the foreign wars prosecuted in our name. However the perceptible consequences of these for most of the electorate are small. Far more relevant to the lives of the voting population at home are domestic problems facing them – unemployment, inflation, inequity, deteriorating public services. These are almost ignored by comparison. I do not wish to say that the injustices abroad are not of the worst kind, only that the truth about them and therefore the real solutions to these problems are far easier to conceal from the public.

    Whether intentionally, or coincidentally and fortuitously (for the owner-class) our attention is distracted from the following:
    -The foreign wars of aggression are a symptom of a deeper problem at home
    -Foreign aggression and domestic problems have a shared cause
    In other words, state terrorism in our name, paid for by us, is a symptom – not the cause. Perpetual inability to resolve the inequities of the domestic economy is a symptom – not the cause. The cause in both cases is catastrophic democratic deficit at home. This same root cause – democratic deficit – that results in death and misery abroad, also results in impoverishment and growing inequity at home, perpetually high unemployment and underinvestment in the public services that we all want. Some of the effects of undemocratic governance at home are also deadly to the domestic population – think of hospital superbugs, fuel poverty and the state of the roads.

    Where I am going with this is that some people feel very keenly the injustice and hypocrisy of our foreign policy and see it as their duty to concentrate efforts on exposing the truth, even though that is not going directly after the cause. It is like taking an aspirin – it relieves the headache but does not address the cause of it. To clarify: there is nothing wrong with demonstrating against wars of aggression – all resistance is useful. But it's not going to address the root cause and so by definition will not be as effective in the long term. Just as an example, 1 million turned up in London against Iraq War 2. What happened – they were ignored. There has been so much campaigning since, aimed at preventing a repeat. What's happening – déjà -vu in Libya.. It seems hardly effective, why?

    It appears the majority of the electorate are not passionate about foreign policy, they watch the news reports as a distraction if at all. They are much more sensitive to discussions about their own economic situation and so can be more easily drawn into a sustained debate about that.

    The point I wish to make is that regardless of what we consider to be a priority – foreign policy problems or domestic economic policy problems, the most effective thing to do is unite and address the root cause common to both. Because domestic politics is much more familiar territory, it is that much harder for people to be misled and for our desire for change to be subverted away from democratic reform and in favour of the status quo. In other words, everyone’s efforts are better spent on domestic democratic reform because that way lies a better chance of success.

    The frustrating thing is that in theory such change could be effected entirely without violent protest. All that needs to be in place is a bunch of people who make it their electoral pledge to introduce Initiative & Referendum rights, and public awareness that this would be the single most desirable reform right now and that they should vote these people in.

    But, politics is the art of the possible. I hope that at least we vote to replace FPTP with AV in May. It would be a tiny step in the right direction.

    • Ruth

      I understand they can freeze the assets for a time but how can they keep them for good?

      • Suhaylsaadi

        Yeah, it seems far-fetched and almost illogical as a justification. However, on its own it's not entirely without precedent – the Shah of Iran's regime's assets are still not unfrozen, because the USA doesn't want to give the dosh to Iran and also wants to keep it to use as a lever. The Washington Times is a Moonie-owned newspaper – but then again, Press TV (see below) is an Iranian regime mouthpiece! Nonetheless, these are interesting speculations, not so much for their own validity but for the other (financial) information which they throw up.

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