NATO raids on Libya "a form of new colonialism": S. African expert

Ongoing NATO airstrikes on Libya represent a form of new colonialism and the Libya crisis risks evolving into a prolonged conflict with even more bloodshed and chaos, a South African expert on international affairs says.

NATO's operations in Libya could not continue forever, Anna Alwes, a research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said in an interview with Xinhua. "The world's nations knew this well and they must be careful in not pushing it too far."

The Western powers justified their intervention with allegations that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi killed many civilians, Alwes said. But "are we sure there were really so many thousands of deaths as the Western media has reported?" she asked.

One month after NATO nations launched military operations in Libya, pro- and anti-government forces in the country are still locked in a seesaw battle.

Echoing views from many other fellow experts from around the world, Alwes believes the Libya crisis now risks turning into a prolonged conflict.

"I see no immediate solution to the conflict between NATO forces and the Libyan rebels on one side, and Muammar Gaddafi on the other. The ongoing civil war is fated to become an internal cancer that will destroy territorial unity and lead to a partition," she said.

She said that it appears Gaddafi would fight till the very end, while rebels of the Transitional National Council (TNC) were also unlikely to give up resistance, though they would not be able to oust Gaddafi on their own.

Under these circumstances, while "the best solution (for the West) would be that Gaddafi is killed during a raid," it sounds "quite unrealistic" for two reasons, she said.

First, it's hard to locate where the Libyan leader actually is, she said. Secondly, the rising opposition from the international community against NATO's intervention makes the intensification of the military operations even more difficult.

Alwes ruled out the possibility the Western countries might sell weapons to the rebels or deploy ground troops. A possible exit strategy from the crisis would be through intense negotiations, which, however, would simply lead to "a division of territory and natural resources between the TNC and Gaddafi, monitored by the interests of Western nations."

"Whether Gaddafi stays or goes, the turmoil-wracked country is likely to be in for more of a rough time. Whichever way this goes, I think there's going to be a good amount of chaos," she said.

Even if the Western nations succeeded in removing Gaddafi from power, the expert said, Libya still faces an uncertain future, with the same ingredients that led to long conflicts as in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan.

She predicted more bloodshed if Gaddafi steps aside. "We could see some tribal uprisings" as competing groups seek a share of Libya's oil wealth, she said, describing the likely scenario as "not very pretty."

[Source: Xinhua, Johannesburg, 30Apr11]

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