Libya Gets Messy: What’s the West Thinking?
By Philip Shaw M.Sc.
With Dr. A.K. Enamul Haque Ph.D
United International University, Dhaka Bangladesh
The world has gone crazy? That’s the way I have felt ever since the start of the Western intervention into the civil insurrection and Libya. In fact, at the time I was on vacation in southern Florida and when I heard the news I could hardly believe it.
Of course it did not take me long to learn that the Canadian effort over Libya would be a joint venture with the coalition that included our friends in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and other places. Still, I thought it completely crazy. Why do we feel it is so important as Canadians to send our men and women and equipment to impose and no fly zone over the country engaged in civil war? I have no answer for that question because 5 million people are dead in a Civil War in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the West doesn’t care. So suddenly sending a Western contingent over an Arab country to defeat a rogue leader didn’t make much sense to me. People in the Congo bleed too.
Of course we can argue about when it all started. We all know that Muammar Gaddafi has had a checkered history in world affairs. For instance at one time he was thought of as a supporter of terrorism, responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103. However, he changed his ways and the West embraced him over the last five years. We saw audiences with Qaddafi, which included Tony Blair, Paul Martin, US Secretary of State as well as the Italian prime minister. He was embraced for changing his ways but when opposition rose up within Libya, some of these Western leaders turned on him. He fought back against the opposition and was winning, so that is when the West stepped in and lost their marbles.
I in no way support the killing of civilians in Libya. However, I in no way support the killing of 5 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo either. In Libya for whatever reason the West made a hastened decision to do something about tyranny and in other parts of the world they do nothing. Where is the consistency? Where is the justice? What is the endgame in this craziness? How about all the other hot beds of tyranny in the world such as Darfur, the DR Congo and Ivory Coast? This reminds me of Kosovo while Rwanda careened into a bloodbath.
So that is my view. I think we have completely blown it. So now we see pictures of carnage in Libya where Western jets have destroyed buildings. Meanwhile Col. Qaddafi controls most of his country and what happens next? There is no endgame except greater tyranny. Somewhere along the way somebody must’ve forgot how messy it can be when you take sides in the Civil War. How Canada got involved is beyond me.
The backtracking has started. The Americans obviously have the most gifted military force on earth. So initially they took the lead in the military operations over Libya. Sure, France and other countries took part in combat operations but now the lead goes over to NATO with a Canadian general to boot. France and Turkey were opposed to NATO taking the lead in the operation. It seems that everybody else is standing around hoping the whole situation will go away. This is nuts.
I suppose to be honest this would be a bit personal. If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I have a good friend in Libya. In fact he was a good friend of not only me, but also my good friend and co-writer of this column, Dr. A.K. Enamul Haque. I have heard from him a couple times since the crisis started but we have lost contact. I have asked Enamul a few times what we can do for him. He has asked me the same thing. You never know what life is going to bring you.
Libya is clearly a tragedy. It has a relatively small population, which was relatively well off compared to many North African nations. Now with two sides fighting and bombs from NATO, it makes the road back so much harder. I was with him the night that the Americans bombed Libya in the 1980s. I can just imagine how he feels now. The world has gone crazy. I just hope he is okay. God speed my friend.
Peace-maker or trouble-maker: a big question ahead for UN.
Dr. A.K. Enamul Haque PhD.
The western world has gone nuts with Libya. It has got itself involved in it without a clear objective, without a clear strategy and, of course, without a clear mind. The only difference is that this time the team is led by UK and France and not by the traditional western leader the US. I believe every one of us have been following this story and the story of Arabs uprising in many parts of the Arab world. However, like Phil none of us knew why France and UK had taken such a hasty and nasty decision to lead the killing fields in Libya.
There are many arguments for being involved during a civil war but there is no argument to begin a civil war. There are many arguments to defend while feeling threatened but there is no argument to attack without being threatened. There are many arguments to kill with trial but there is no argument to kill without a trial. But unfortunately that is what is going on in Libya.
The horse-trading is also apparently clear. In order to prove the point that Western powers are no doing it alone, Qatar – a tiny nation in the Gulf has sent two fighter jets, which could not even land in Greece. Emirates are also supposedly participating in the rage against the Libyan leader but we have not seen any sign of it. On paper, they are participating. The West has learnt a lesson from the past involvement in Iraq, and this time there are no western boots on ground. The result is a chaos and possibly a prolonged civil war.
In the vote at the UN Security Council the voting behavior of the member nations are quite illuminating. 10 voted for and 5 abstained. My biggest surprise is the actual text passed by the Security Council. The resolution was outrageous – as it said – “the Council authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country”. Luckily, Asian countries did not support the resolution and I, as an Asian, feel relieved that they did not vote for this kind of atrocious text.
The war is not going to be over soon according to my reading. It will drag on for some time and meanwhile, the West might want to arm the rebel groups in order to capture Tripoli. It is not going to be easy in a country where loyalty is divided between tribal lines. NATO while imposing a so-called No Fly Zone must also be careful to ensure that their involvement is kept within the limit under which civilian deaths are avoided. Before their involvement hardly 100 Libyans died and people will be counting how many had died after the UN and NATO involvement.
Finally, fuelling a civil war has never been a motto of the UN and it should be careful of not doing so. If it does, the involvement of UN troops will be in question by the people around the world and it will create a bigger problem for the whole world. The blue-hat soldiers should be revered around the world as peacekeepers and not as troublemakers. Hopefully, Ban Ki Moon understands his responsibility as an Asian and as the Head of UN.