The West is playing with fire in Libya

The world’s perception has been reinforced that all the noise about Saddam’s possession of nuclear and chemical weapons was just a charade. It now stands established beyond any doubt that the real intent was regime change and possession of Iraq’s fabulous oil wealth. The same holds true for this latest western adventurism in Libya

After witnessing enormous death and destruction during World War II, the United Nations (UN) was established to resolve all disputes between nations in a peaceful manner. But, over time, the UN has become a forum where the US and the West — neo-cons and neo-colonialists respectively — manipulate the decisions to invade countries like Iraq and Afghanistan either on the pretext of a threat against the West, or, in the case of Libya, to protect the citizens from atrocities perpetrated by the state. One would not hold a brief for Libya’s President Gaddafi despite the fact that the country had performed the rituals of elections, and for the fact that, till recently, he was a popular dictator. Having said that, the US and the West have no right to decide as to who should be in the saddle in developing countries. One could rue the fact that Gaddafi’s failure to resolve contradictions and his stubbornness provided an opportunity to the adventurists to destroy Libya by creating civil war-like conditions, as the Libyan polity is so sharply divided into eastern and western parts on tribal lines.

In fact, the UN mandate did not include ground action, but the wording of the resolution, “to take all measures to defend civilians”, was interpreted to destroy Libyan radars and air force to enforce a no-fly zone. But these powers are playing with fire, as the terrain in Libya is as good as in Afghanistan. With desert and rugged mountains, it is an ideal place for guerrilla warfare. That point besides, the question is why the US and the West did not mull a no-fly zone or ground action or supply arms to the rebels in the case of Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, where popular uprisings are so akin to the Libyan revolution. In Yemen, commanders and their units have revolted against President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He too has unleashed his security forces and thugs as well as tanks and guns on street protestors and has also clamped a state of emergency on the country. And in Bahrain, the al-Khalifa royals, after failing to quell the popular revolt with their own security forces, have called in troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to crush the movement.

The objective of American policy seemed to be to get rid of tyrants, even their own sidekicks who had become unpopular due to decades’ long rule. However, the real target was Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. In other words, controlling Libyan oil was the basic reason for all the turmoil, which is perceived as a controlled ‘process’ in the region. A resolution from the Arab League was sought for a no-fly zone over Libya, and on its basis a resolution in the UN Security Council (UNSC) was passed authorising “all necessary measures to defend Libyan civilians”. Immediately after adopting the resolution, the French air force flew the first air sorties on March 19 as if it was already waiting in the wings to attack. The world’s perception has been reinforced that all the noise about Saddam’s possession of nuclear and chemical weapons was just a charade. It now stands established beyond any doubt that the real intent was regime change and possession of Iraq’s fabulous oil wealth. The same holds true for this latest western adventurism in Libya.

To enlist support for the adventure, which is likely to fail, a conference on the Libyan crisis was held in London the other day, with a view towards finding a way to resolve the issues and help the citizens of Libya. The three-hour conference brought together representatives from nearly 40 countries and some major international blocs including the UN, NATO, the European Union (EU) and the Arab League. But the conference has been a complete failure, as the African Union (AU), Russia and China are against the military operations by the West-led coalition. They are of the view that the air strikes should be stopped. Arab League Chief Amr Moussa and AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping, seeing the writing on the wall, did not attend the conference though Amr Moussa was instrumental in passing the Arab League resolution for a no-fly zone. The participants did not reach any consensus on key issues such as what the final aim of the military operation is, when the operation should be wrapped up and whether NATO would limit the air strikes after assuming command.

As stated earlier, western adventurists have descended on Libya for regime change, and not for civilians’ protection as authorised by the UN Security Council. In fact, under the UN mandate’s cover, they are debilitating Muammar Gaddafi’s military muscle to help the eastern rebels to gain an upper hand over pro-government elements and make advances to capture more territory. Obviously, their humanitarianism, spurious and self-serving, is reflective of their vested interests there. There is a perception that they started this controlled process, but they are deeply worried — particularly the Americans — if in Yemen Saleh is forced out of power by the dissidents. Yemen may then not be as pliable to them as is it now. And they are fearful if the al-Khalifa royals go, not only the Americans may be in a pickle in keeping Bahrain as their Fifth Fleet’s base but the island state may also fall into the orbit of Iranian influence. Libya is no monolithic polity, as are not the Arab polities by and large. It is a conglomerate of tribes, divided by mutual rivalries as well as sectarian, even ethnic antipathies, as are so many other Arab polities.

To answer the question why they have singled out Libya for a pounding, it has to be said that whenever a public protest fits into the geopolitical designs of the western powers, they instantly glorify it as a popular movement, award it the honour of a colour label and lend financial and/or muscle power if need be. The Orange Revolution of Ukraine, the Rose Revolution of Georgia, Cider Revolution of Lebanon and earlier Velvet Revolution of the erstwhile Czechoslovakia are to name a few. But Kashmiris have not been so lucky, as their freedom movement stays unblessed with a colour label, though more than 100,000 Kashmiris have been martyred and an equal number maimed since 1989. Yet human rights activists and the international media do not consider it worthwhile to highlight their sacrifices and atrocities perpetrated on them. The UNSC resolutions bestowing the right to decide their destiny through a plebiscite to be held under the aegis of the UN have not been implemented during the last 62 years. On the other hand, take the case of East Timor: a resolution was passed in the UNSC in weeks and implemented immediately.

[Source: By Mohammad Jamil, Daily Times, Pak, 02Apr11]

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