Regime change under UNSC cover

It is now obvious that Nato's purported mission, under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, to protect civilians in Libya is expanding into a flagrantly illegal attempt at regime change. With fierce fighting between rebels and government forces reported in the eastern city of Adjabiya and the western one of Misrata, President Barack Obama has stated that a military stalemate obtains. That means Nato has failed to protect civilians and prevent Muammar Qadhafi's ground forces from recapturing key rebel-held areas, with civilian casualties as a tragic consequence. In response, however, Mr. Obama and his main Nato collaborators, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, have published a joint article in The Washington Post, The Times, and Le Figaro, holding that “it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Gaddafi in power” and that “so long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations.”

The main problems in this exercise in military adventurism have been caused by the Resolution's lack of a clear political objective; it is the political issues that are now proving the most troublesome for the Alliance. One major miscalculation was the assumption that Mr. Qadhafi might be sufficiently influenced by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) or the League of Arab States (the Arab League) to consider an agreement with the rebels or even to leave office. The Libyan President's defiant reaction exposed that idea as vacuous. Now Mr. Cameron refuses to rule out the deployment of ground troops, despite the fact that the U.N. Resolution specifically excludes that. The coalition's disarray is further confirmed by France's proposal, with which the United Kingdom disagrees, of a new Resolution; in any case Russia and China are likely to oppose anything that authorises regime change. Nevertheless, the evidence is increasingly clear that, even before they obtained the existing mandate, Washington, London, and Paris wanted only to remove Mr. Qadhafi. The U.S. has since approached various African Union member states about giving asylum to Mr. Qadhafi provided he leaves office. Secondly, at a recent coalition conference, Qatar and Italy pressed for arms supplies to the rebels. The most damaging evidence, however, is that the U.S. has sent an envoy to Benghazi to learn more about the rebel grouping, the Interim Transitional National Council. In effect, going through the U.N. was only a smokescreen for regime change. The Obama administration and its allies are repeating all the mistakes and miscalcuations made by George W. Bush and Tony Blair over the infamous and illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003.

[Source: The Hindu, Editorial, 18Apr11]

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Libya War
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