Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Libya stands on the edge

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New volunteer fighters loyal to the opposition movement attended their first day of training at a base in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, on Tuesday - New York Times
As Gaddafi’s loyalist troops head East, this is a crucial moment for both the fate of Libya and the North African, Middle East revolutions. Gaddafi still commands a significant number of loyalist soldiers and weaponry and the reality is that the rebels have few troops and few weapons.
ANALYSIS - Foreign intervention unlikely unless ...
Can the rebels defeat Gaddafi? If they lose they will be massacred.
The International Community debates and wrings its hands over whether to impose a No-Fly zone. In the meantime fighter jets are flying over Ajdabiya and attacking a major arms dump. So far it has been only partly hit. Yet it lies unprotected and open to pillagers and either being retaken or destroyed by Gaddafi’s forces. Twice fighter pilots have deliberately missed the arms dump. These brave ‘misses’ will not continue forever.
A convoy of some 100 vehicles are heading east. Whilst it is not clear the number of troops and types of weaponry, it is unlikely that the rebels can stave off a full frontal attack, especially whilst fighters can attack with impunity.
This is the closest that the Libyan people have come to throwing off the shackles of its tyrant, Gaddafi. Yet due to Gaddafi deliberately keeping the Government institutions weak, there is no readymade alternative to step into the power vacuum in the east of Libya. It is taking time to form an alternative form of Government.
If the International Community does not act swiftly (within the next week), Gaddafi will slowly take part the rebel areas and the retribution will be brutal. There can be no doubt that he will slaughter thousands if not tens of thousands of people – men, women and children who have defied him or been in the rebel areas.
The United Nations could impose a No-Fly zone but with Russia opposing and ready to veto such a Security Council resolution what are the alternatives?
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks in ...
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
1.       International minimal intervention – Assets continue to be steadily frozen or seized from around the world which will paralyse the Libyan Government’s purchasing power. An arms embargo will stop the Government purchasing new weaponry. Assisting fleeing refugees so safe havens are created in neighbouring states with sufficient temporary homes, food and water supplies set up to protect refugees.
The risks – Gaddafi’s forces free to attack the rebels at will both from land and air. Massacres will ensue in a bloody civil war as the International Community stands on the side-lines although those lucky enough to escape Libya would be protected. However, the risk is that the rebels are beaten and Gaddafi imposes a brutal retaliation.
2.       NATO military protection – A NATO imposed No-Fly zone and sea blockade to control supplies (including stopping all sea bound arms) into Libya. The rebels are supplied with weaponry to assist their fight.
The risks – Without a UN Security Council Resolution, such a NATO No-Fly zone would probably be illegal. A vaguely worded resolution may suffice to provide legality to such NATO action. Supplying arms to in effect civilians in rebel areas is fraught with difficulty. Who do you give the arms to? Do you supply training? If so, how and where, because then you may end up despatching a UN or NATO force of advisors and training staff that would require protection. Supplying arms will inevitably lead to more bloodshed. What if the arms fall into Gaddafi’s hands?
3.       International military offensive – A UN force is rapidly put together and despatched to Eastern Libya to provide a buffer zone of protection which will in effect mean a war between Gaddafi and the International Community. Or the UN/NATO mounts an all-out attack with a major force against Gaddafi. Or finally, the only major army in the region to provide any sort of credible force that may not be opposed by Russia and China would be Egypt. But the generals have their hands full with trying to keep order in their own country. It is possible that an Arab/African army could be put together but it would take many weeks and would only be mobilised if Gaddafi was seen to be massacring his own people.
Unidentified  Egyptian army major generals greet ...
Egypt's Generals - could they mobilise an army to support the Libyan rebels?
The risks – This is a nightmare scenario since only the US can mount any sought of NATO campaign and President Obama will not enter another war after scaling back in Iraq and trying to disentangle from the bloody conflict in Afghanistan. Arabs and Africans would be outraged if a US army landed in Libya. Only an overwhelming force could be sent. If it is too small it will be endanger of failing and creating a buffer zone between the two sides can only be carried out with any kind of credibility by the blue beret UN troops. The US will not allow its troops to pertain to be a UN force and a tough UN resolution is not going to be passed at the UN Security Council, unless Gaddafi starts to massacre thousands and the bodies appear on TV. Even then it is likely that China or Russia would veto such a force.
So, the likely scenario is Number One – International minimal intervention. The International Community will be keeping fingers crossed that the rebels can get organised and sufficient troops can be found to fight Gaddafi’s forces. 
The Quixotic Rise of Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi
At the 2009 G8 when Gaddafi was seen as a 'statesman'
In the meantime there will be a civil war lasting months and if Gaddafi wins then there will be a long, secret and bloody war against those that rebelled. Therefore, if he appears to be winning, the best hope may be for Egypt (perhaps with logistical, technical and intelligence support from NATO) mobilises some sort of liberation army to send across the border and swiftly end Gaddafi’s rule. He should be arrested (if possible) and sent to the International Criminal Court to faces charges for human rights abuses. Then there is just the little matter of handing over power to a democratically elected Government of Libya and to quickly pull back all liberating forces. There are no easy solutions but the risk of doing nothing or little, will result in tens of thousands of civilian and rebel militia deaths, if Gaddafi wins.
Embassy presence
What price freedom? Freedom fighters need international support


  1. Latest news that the International Criminal Court may be willing to investigate the Gaddafi regime for war crimes:-

  2. Follow latest developments in Libya in Arabic:-
    شاهد قناة بي بي سي العربية على الإنترنت

    أوكامبو يعلن فتح التحقيق بـ "جرائم ضد الانسانية" في


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