Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Libya Gone Too Far - Intervention Necessary to End Farce

To remain convinced that the Libyan revolution can be treated in the same 'hands off' manner as the international community adopted towards Egypt might prove a very costly decision in the future, both in terms of human lives, and access to the oil resources of Libya.

In contrast to the Egyptian revolution, the Libyan revolution is currently unfolding violently, in a dramatic and epic pitched battle between protestors in the streets and Libyan security forces and hired mercenaries. And there have been spadefuls of farce to accompany the chaotic and panicked state of decline of the regime. Gaddafi's and his son have appeared on television in different slots, in both cases failing to offer the Libyan people any way out of the crisis - essentially offering them the choice of submission or death. And these threats have been followed through, with the Libyan airforce attacking from the air, and security forces and mercenaries attacking from the ground.

Gadaffi's son rambled incoherently on television, often repeating himself, accusing the millions of protestors of being 'drugged with ecstacy' (I have yet to see a trance party turn into a revolution). He took the opportunity to lash out at everyone in the international community and middle east neighbourhood, and ended his speech with the threat to 'fight to the last bullet'. Gaddafi himself, who hasn't been heard from since the beginning of the protests, made a ridiculously farcical appearance on television, sitting inside a car but holding out an umbrella in a pathetically staged attempt to give the appearance that he hasn't fled Libya (it was raining in Libya). Both father and son made no attempt to deal with the pressing issues of reform and democracy being died for on the streets of their country, with millions of their countrymen sacrificing themselves out of a sense of duty to bring about change.

The international community cannot stand by. A former British prime minister has called for the international community to establish and enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, in order to put an end to the Libyan airforces raids on Libyan cities and citizens. There is more that can be done. The UN can put together a coalition of forces to take and secure critical military bases, airforce bases, airports and ports. They should also disable all Gaddafi's residences, properties and command posts, and drive him further underground, freeze all his and his son's assets, and put special forces into the area to conduct more daring, risky operations to bring the regime to an end. Just parking a NATO aircraft carrier within striking distance should be enough of a threat to the armed forces, who are well aware that they cannot take on the might of the international community.

Seven international Libyan ambassadors have resigned. The Libyan ambassador to the UN has already called for Gaddafi to step down. How much more is necessary for the international community to move its bulky and bureaucratic systems to move towards creating collective momentum and taking action? All the precedents for international action are already there, and while it is often dangerous to act too quickly, in this case, acting too late might prove more dangerous to both the Libyan people and the foreign interests and partners who have lined up for access to Libyan oil. 

Letting a country die in the streets at the hands of its own rulers, while gladly lapping up the country's natural resources with no sense of responsibility to the real owners of those resources is also farce. And currently, farce is meeting farce, and humanity is suffering, and the long term costs of this suffering will come back to reverberate upon all those who stood by and did nothing to help.  

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