Libya: al-Obeidi deportation exposes hypocrisy of “humanitarian” intervention

From the New York Times, June 2:

The Libyan woman whose mistreatment by the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi made her a symbol of its brutality has been deported against her will from her temporary refuge in Qatar to the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Eman al-Obeidi gained international attention in March when she told foreign journalists that she had been abducted and gang raped by Qaddafi militia. She was arrested, and later smuggled out of the country by a defecting soldier. She was in Qatar awaiting asylum elsewhere. A spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said she was deported Thursday by force and without explanation. A spokesman for the rebel authority in Benghazi said she was free to leave if she wanted.

AP adds that the UN refugee agency’s Sybella Wilkes said al-Obeidi should have been allowed to stay in Qatar, and her deportation runs contrary to international law. Al-Obeidi “is a recognized refugee, and we don’t consider there is any good reason for her deportation,” Wilkes said. In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the US was “monitoring the situation” and working to ensure al-Obeidi’s safety.

When we first made note of al-Obeidi’s case, we pointed out that the unconcern for her plight among those in the West protesting the bombing exposed their double standard about human suffering. Her deportation—from Qatar, one of the few Arab states to have joined the NATO-led military coalition against Qaddafi’s regime—now exposes the bogus nature of the “humanitarian” cover for the intervention (lukewarm State Department expressions of concern notwithstanding). Qatar has formally recognized the rebel regime in Benghazi, and also signed a deal to market oil for the rebel regime so it can purchase weapons. Maybe the Qatar government thinks that this recognition means that it is OK to deport al-Obeidi to territory under control of a “legitimate” regime—but she was still apparently deported against her will, in violation of international standards. Qatar’s special hypocrisy was already exposed by the fact this supposed champion of Libyan freedom, as a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, signed off on the Saudi intervention in Bahrain to put down pro-demoracy protests.

See our last posts on the struggle in Libya.

See our last posts on the politics of 9-11 and the media culture wars.

  1. Bernard-Henri Levy, Libya, Israel and empire
    Bernard-Henri Levy, the French philosopher (of Sephardic background), is apparently on the ground in Benghazi, meeting with the leadership of the Libyan rebels—and serving as Israel’s unofficial envoy. He reports happily that the National Transitional Council is ready to recognise Israel. His comments say much both about how the rebel leadership have been domesticated in their hopes of aid and recognition from the West and Israeli fears of the Arab Spring. See my analysis at our new sibling website, New Jewish Resistance.