|New International Brigade could assist the Libyan Rebels|
Gaddafi’s army closes in on Benghazi and the hopes of a quick victory for the rebel Democrats have slipped away to the new terror of Gaddafi’s henchmen now seeking retribution as they sweep eastwards. The international ‘community’ meanwhile agonises over any significant action and Gaddafi is using the interlude to regain as much ground as possible. The possible no-fly zone even if agreed may now be too little, too late.
It was always going to be very difficult for the rebels to militarily defeat Gaddafi given the billions of hard cash he could bribe both his own troops and the mercenaries flown in. Likewise some estimates give him a four to one advantage in troop numbers and an overwhelming (if not total) advantage in hardware such as artillery and tanks. It is a magnificent and surprising result that the rebels have slowed the advance down given the odds against them. Unless UN sanctioned military help is authorised within the next few hours or days, the situation looks bleak for the rebels. If the Libyan rebel authorities agreed, an International Brigade of volunteer troops could be the only hope of providing international military support. All Democrats should see that such moments in history rarely come along. The Arab Spring of Freedom must not fail for international prevarication, lack of leadership and a failure to back democratic rebels in Libya. However, force should only be as a last resort. With Gaddafi’s troops approaching Benghazi, we have reached a point of last resort.
|Libyan rebels losing ground to Gaddafi|
As I urged two weeks ago, the international community had to act quickly to give the rebels any real chance of success. The opportunity has now almost gone. It is absolutely right that any action should be legal and proportionate. But it should not have been difficult for the United Nations Security Council, if they truly believe in democracies flourishing (and since some on the Security Council are hardly paid up democracies no wonder there is prevarication) to take quick decisive action. France is the only Western country who have had the courage to recognise the National Transitional Council.
So what next? A no fly zone (now backed by the Arab League) and a naval blockade would still slow down the advance of Gaddafi’s forces. If air support was given it would halt and potentially push back Gaddafi’s forces as the lines of communication can be easily broken up with airstrikes. However, once the conflict was inside suburban areas, airstrikes would be too risky.
If modern arms were supplied to the rebels then by playing for time they could re-group, re-train and potentially with their enthusiasm make up a professional fighting force that would then at the very least be able to robustly defend the east of Libya. The civil war would enter into a stalemate but then time would be on the rebels’ side. If they can halt any further ingression into the East then over weeks and months the tide would turn back. The international community would see that Gaddafi can be finished off through rigid sanctions and the weight of opinion would grow even amongst supporters that if a united Libya was ever to be returned then the price would be Gaddafi’s removal.
Without governmental and pan-governmental support for action then the end of the rebels could be a matter of a few days or weeks. If Benghazi falls then the Libyan National Transitional Council (LTNC) would flee to Tobruk or have to leave the country. The reign of terror on the civilian population would commence with secret and public arrests and thousands if not tens of thousands will be killed and/or tortured. It will be a vicious, deadly purge of any opposition. Gaddafi must not be allowed to win. The man is a deluded, megalomaniac with a penchant for violence and cruel, authoritarian rule.
The opposition has now organised around the Libyan National Transitional Council led by the Chairman, Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil. He is a potential prime minister in-waiting who can lead the country through a peaceful democratic revolution for free and fair elections. However, Jilal and the LNTC do not command adequate armed forces to be able to win the battle nor perhaps to even halt Gaddafi’s troops.
|Mustafa Abdul Jalil - Chairman of the Libyan National Transitional Council|
The Arab Democratic revolution in 2011 is a beautiful Spring of hope and freedom. In Egypt and Tunisia, the transition has relatively been peaceful. It demonstrated a new beginning for a poor people who suffered at the hands of despots. That democratic revolution needs to be nurtured and assisted according to the wishes of the Arabs and North African peoples.
The simple truth is that in Libya Muammar Gaddafi is a fascist of the first degree. He will not negotiate in good faith and has committed great atrocities on both his own people and on international targets such as Lockerbie and Berlin bombings. The opposition have set out clear democratic principles and commitments that make them a worthy champion of freedom. Whilst it is difficult to know exact details of policies and how a democracy would be introduced in Libya in the middle of a civil war it is difficult to be critical of the rebels. They are simply surviving.
There are indications that some foreign intervention would be welcomed and as Gadaffi’s forces move Eastwards there may be even greater urgency to allow foreign intervention as long as it is with the permission and authority of the Libyan National Transitional Council.
If there was the genuine prospect of a ceasefire, or an honourable negotiated truce then it should be tried but the speed and success of the counter drive by Gaddafi’s troops to regain ground means that options are limited.
All democrats around the world have a simple choice, either back military force to protect the rebels or allow them to suffer at the hands of overwhelming odds by a brutal Fascist.
In 1936, right wing generals sought to overthrow a democratically elected Government in Spain. When the advance of the generals was recognised, International Brigades were offered and accepted by the Government to support the loyal Spanish troops. I believe the time has come and as a last resort that a new International Brigade should be offered to the LNTC. If they say no, then so be it but if they agree then such forces would have to fall under the authority and command of the LNTC and at all times exercise discipline and respect for the people they are supporting. It is suggested with a heavy heart as swift action by NATO under UN authority could easily halt Gaddafi and potentially force him back but time is running out.
I have opposed war when I could see a clear, peaceful alternative but I cannot see such an alternative in Libya. I am not a pacifist although again there is a time for such honourable beliefs and actions. Young and old, men and women and shades of every tribe seek freedom. They are now being pushed back and if defeated the retribution will be horrific. They need support. Warm words are not enough. Hesitant no fly zones are not enough. Action is needed now.
The epochs in history arrive once in a generation and all Democrats should rally behind the Libyan Rebels.
The New International Brigades (IB) should formally request permission of the Libyan National Transition Council to form up in Benghazi and defend the revolution. Whatever capacity they wish the IB to serve so it should follow. From house to house, street to street and city to city the innocent must be protected.
Democrats of the world look at your consciences, see the tears of Libyan justice and hear the first cry of Libyan democracy. Now is the time to unite on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea for the Arab Spring of Freedom.