Comedian, actor and political activists Russell Brand has come in for a lot of flak because of his criticism of the British prime minister’s decision to call for ‘one minute of silence’ to commemorate the victims of the Tunisian gun rampage at the beach resort of Port El-Kantaoui on 26 June. Of the 38 victims killed, 30 were British. The incident has had a great impact on the nation’s consciousness. His position may seem tactless and insensitive, and is bound to be misunderstood, but I understand his anger with David Cameron. For the PM to call for this commemoration is for the government to position itself with the victims when the UK government itself was largely to blame for what happened in more than one way.
Firstly I was horrified to hear the UK tourists were still travelling to Tunisia on holiday given the growing level of terror threats in the area. It transpires that there was a previous suicide bomb attack at the same beach in October 2013. Only in March this year some 21 people, mostly European tourists were murdered at the Bardo National Museum by terrorists belonging to a group identified by Tunisian authorities as a splinter group of ‘Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’. The failure of the UK government to warn its citizens against travel to Tunisia shows that relations with Tunisia were considered more important than the lives of UK citizens. Needless to say a belated travel warning has now been issued. This is rather a case of ‘shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted!’
The attackers at the Bardo National Museum are known to have trained with Islamist groups in Libya. While it was reported that a senior Tunisian Interior Ministry official stated that the main attacker at the beach at Port El-Kantaoui had also been to Libya. It is increasingly clear that Tunisia is becoming the target of Islamist groups based in lawless Libya who are seeking to export their Islamic revolution in the ‘IS domino effect’. I can’t help feeling that the refusal of the British government to face up to the dangers to tourists in Tunisia was partly motivated by embarrassment over the role the UK government played in creating this danger in the first place.
For it was David Cameron himself, together with his cabinet who decided that the British Royal Air Force should act as the air force of Islamic extremists and help to bomb them into to power on the streets of Libya. Of course they will posture that they were trying to help other so-called ‘moderate’ factions, or protect civilians, blah, blah, blah. This is disingenuous because what they were doing was transparent to me at the time, and the outcome exactly as could be expected. Whatever words they use, actions speak louder, and the RAF acted as Al-Qaeda’s air force, eagerly assisted by practically the entire Qatari air force.
The result of Britain’s destabilisation and destruction of the Libyan state, is that is has now become the base for a domino effect of Islamist terrorism across North Africa. Can anyone really believe that everyone in the Cabinet, the MoD and the Foreign Office are so stupid they did not realise what the results of their actions would be, when it was transparently obvious to thousands of people in the region, and at home, like me.
The very active involvement of Qatar in the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime and the establishment of an Islamist base in the chaos of what is left of Libya is a topic I will return to in depth in some later post. Interestingly the Qataris were able to summon much less enthusiasm for the bombing of IS in Syria and Iraq, they only sent a couple of aircraft. I also heard an unconfirmed report that the Qatari government was not allowing their own pilots to fly these missions.