Our foreign minister and his shadow mark Mediterranean Day in parliament

Published: March 25, 2011 at 11:04am

Having successfully circumvented all discussion of Libya in parliament, our foreign minister and shadow foreign minister couldn’t avoid the subject when they spoke in the House yesterday about that really hot and pressing topic: Mediterranean Day.

No, I didn’t know it was Mediterranean Day, either. Do you get to exchange cards and gifts?

They couldn’t avoid the subject so instead they zoomed through it.

Tonio Borg was quoted by The Times as saying that the revolution in Libya “is different from the one in Tunisia and Egypt because it did not start in the capital city and there is a strong tribal element. The Tunisian revolution was secular.”

And the revolution in Libya is….what, led by Al Qaeda?

George Vella was more voluble, and he too thinks that the revolution in Libya is spearheaded by Islamic radicalism, though there is no evidence of this at all – rather the opposite – and the only ones saying it in Libya are members of the Gaddafi regime. The rebels gather in mosques because they don’t have opposition party clubs which serve that function.

Here’s Dr Vella, quoted in The Times today:

Dr Vella said the most disquieting aspect was the extremism appearing where it would never have been expected, under Muammar Gaddafi. The protesters or rebels were already appearing to be too influenced by radicalism and people in mosques.

And while many of us think that the prime minister’s sole initial statement about Gaddafi, that the end is inevitable, was wholly inadequate and open to interpretation, the shadow foreign minister thinks that even that was far too much. He thinks that Gaddafi is about to make a comeback, and that we should have said nothing at all to avoid his retribution.

It was his opinion that the Prime Minister had been premature when he had publicly said Gaddafi’s end was inevitable. Now Gaddafi was making himself felt again and people in eastern Libya were terrified of his promised retribution.

After saying on Bondiplus last Monday that he thinks the no-fly zone is useful, Dr Vella has now changed tack after just three days. He told parliament (quoted by The Times):

Now Malta is supporting a UN-ordered no-fly zone and “any other measure”. This approach had already been tried in Iraq and the Balkans, with disastrous results. Gaddafi’s aircraft were no longer flying and his tanks were being bombed from the air; but what did the international community really want – to establish the no-fly zone, to destroy Gaddafi’s infrastructure, or to go for the person himself?

9 Comments Comment

  1. red nose says:

    Really – tal-biki – in the real sense of the word – tears come to my eyes knowing that Gaddafi’s tanks are firing on a hospital in Misrata and our friends celebrating Mediterranean Day do not see the flow of blood into this very Mediterranean. Tal-biki.

  2. Edward Caruana Galizia says:

    The revolution in Libya is not being fought along tribal lines. This is not difficult to see, seeing as Tripoli, Misrata and Al Zawia are in Tripolitania (one of the three parts of Libya) and there are rebels there too.

    The fact is that everyone wants Gaddafi out, regardless of which tribe they come from, although those who feel like it pays them to have Gaddafi in power might say otherwise.

    This idea that the revolution is just tribal warfare was promoted first by Saif Al Islam, along with the idea that they are all Al Qeada and high on LSD which was put in their Nescafe.

    • Edward Caruana Galizia says:

      Just to clarify: Tripolitania is the North West of Libya where there is the city of Tripoli and the like. Fazzan is beneath Tripolitania and is mostly desert. Cyrenaica is the East of Libya and includes Benghazi. There are rebels in all three and there is no hint of the revolution attacking one specific tribe. It is a battle between the Pro or Anti Gaddafi people.

  3. Bus Driver says:

    Tonio Borg was quoted by The Times as saying that the revolution in Libya “is different from the one in Tunisia and Egypt because it did not start in the capital city and there is a strong tribal element. The Tunisian revolution was secular.”

    Presumably, then, had the revolution ‘started in the capital’ he would have been up there with them, manning the barricades on the front line in Green Square’.

    The guy is a complete waste of time in such matters.

  4. Antoine Vella says:

    Like John Dalli, George Vella also feels that he should not tell Gaddafi to go because “Libya is a sovereign state”.

    Like many other politicians, he also thinks that Malta’s opinion of Gaddafi should depend on whether the dictator is defeated or survives in power. Principles? What are they?

    Vella’s question as to what the international community really wants (I could almost sense the anguish in his words) betrays the dismay with which Labourites are watching their despotic friend get hammered.

    I’m not surprised Labourites have a special place in their heart for Gaddafi: he’s a magnified version of Mintoff. He’s what Mintoff might have become had he been born in Libya.

  5. Corinne Vella says:

    So tribes are religious entities, are they? That’s news to me.

  6. Anthony says:

    George Vella, the international community wants what ninety percent of Libyans want: the entire Gaddafi clan out of the country forever.

    I have verified this myself over the years from professional contact with hundreds of ordinary Libyans.

    The great pity is that Maltese politicians never associated themselves with any Libyans outside the tyrant’s circle of relatives, friends, friends of friends, sycophants, leeches and a whole assortment of hangers on.

    Malta was never interested in Libya or the Libyan people.

    In fact, most Maltese look down on Libyans as a nation.

    Let us all be frank and admit we were all, to a greater or lesser extent, only interested in their dinars. It was relatively easy for us to lay our hands on them. Or so many people thought.

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