Diplomatic Recognition for the Rebels Only Confirms Split of Libya Part 1 By Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor
Britain has joined the queue of countries recognizing the Libyan rebel leadership (Transitional National Council) as the rulers of Libya. It has given full diplomatic recognition to the TNC and expelled the remaining eight diplomats appointed by Gaddafi to represent Libya’s interests in the United Kingdom. On the surface, this action by Britain may pass as unexpected. After all, 30 other countries (mostly those banded together in the NATO military campaign) have already done so.

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But in reality, it underscores a dogged determination to help the International Coalition achieve its objective of regime change in Libya through the diplomatic means. In effect, the International Coalition’s military campaign alone isn’t enough and must be reinforced with the diplomatic coup d’état against Gaddafi.

In taking this action, Britain has incurred the anger of the Gaddafi government, not necessarily because of the decision to recognize the TNC diplomatically but also by violating “national British laws and international law, specifically the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations of 1961,” as noted by Khaled Kaim, Deputy Foreign Minister in the Gaddafi government.

Thus, Mr. Kaim sees Britain’s action as “unprecedented, irresponsible and a stain on the forehead of Britain.” Strong sentiments to express even if they will not break any bone in Britain. But Mr. Kaim’s statement that Libya will take legal action in both British courts and the International Court of Justice.to reverse Britain’s decision qualifies as a mere hot air.

As the situation is now, anything of the sort will end up in smoke even before it begins. Libya under Gaddafi cannot have any sympathizers in the community of anti-Gaddafi elements. And the International Court of Justice is a baby of the United Nations, which itself is at the beck and call of those now devastating Libya.

Once the power brokers in the West make up their minds against anybody (or anything) they consider as a threat, they will not pause to give commonsense and conscience any room to influence their decisions and actions. That is why this diplomatic coup d’état cannot be divorced from the broad agenda of the International Coalition to strangle Gaddafi out of contention.

Perhaps, the Libyan government’s anger against Britain stemmed from the fact that Britain had been the first country to cut deeply through the Gaddafi government’s international representation at three levels. All at once, Britain undercut the Gaddafi government by expelling its envoys; by being the first country to which a new envoy (Mahmud al-Naku, a writer and journalist bitterly opposed to Gaddafi) was appointed to by the rebel leadership; and to begin immediate moves to release millions of de-frozen Libyan funds to the rebel TNC.

In their cunning element, though, the British authorities will be holding on to about 12 billion Dollars of Libya. They claim they will not yet release those funds to the rebels.

No matter how Libya pursues its case, the expulsion of diplomats by countries is not strange. But in the case of Libya, it is a novelty when viewed against the ongoing crisis in the country. I call it a novelty because it has come at a time that the Libyan crisis is raging on. It is so also because it is part of a grand agenda on the part of the partners in the International Coalition to delegitimize a sovereign government in pursuit of their grand design to oust it from power. Giving diplomatic recognition to the rebels in an ongoing battle as persists in Libya does raise serious questions of morality in diplomacy.

On what basis are these countries giving diplomatic recognition to the rebels and their Transitional National Council? Is it because the 30 or more countries that have so far recognized them consider them as the “legitimate” font of authority in Libya when it has been established that they are in the minority and don’t speak for or act on behalf of the majority? If so, what is the justification for that diplomatic recognition?

I don’t think that the rebels and their TNC have yet established control over the Libyan situation for them to merit this diplomatic recognition. Thus, the action by Britain and the others (especially those in the Libya Contact Group) is premature. It betrays a long-held vested interest in installing the rebels in power even when the fighting hasn’t yet ended to confirm them as victors.

Nor is it clear that they will be accepted by the majority of Libyans who still root for Gaddafi. The fault lines are clear and we can see Libya being torn apart by self-centred anti-Gaddafi elements.

Indeed, giving diplomatic recognition requires certain specific preconditions—the existence of a specific territorial integrity (worthy of being called a country) and the establishment of an administration (capable of sustaining itself and superintending over the affairs of the territory under its control).

This precondition is clearly seen in the position held by the UK itself, which had previously said that it recognized “countries not governments.” If so, why is Britain now bending over to do the weird thing? The answer is not difficult to fetch. I see it as part of the hypocrisy and dangerous nature of those who are pathologically wired to cause havoc to other human beings and systems on this planet.

The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, epitomized this abhorrent nature by arguing that the action in favour of the TNC was a “unique situation” and that recognizing the NTC could help “legally in the unfreezing of some assets.”

This mindset is frightening. But because the primary motive of the anti-Gaddafi elements is to have access to Libyan oil and funds, not to solve the political conflict amicably, those countries recognizing the rebels will unconscionably put aside all principles of propriety to push on the TNC to become a de facto government to be manipulated to serve interests other than those of their country and its people. Leaders of these countries have no conscience to allow the norms of diplomacy to dictate the line of action to take. I pity them.

In the Libyan case, the situation is dicey. As of now, the rebels can’t claim to have the overall control to deserve the kind of diplomatic recognition that the anti-Gaddafi governments are giving their TNC. But for the involvement of the International Coalition in this country’s internal affairs or the frontline role being played by NATO in devastating very important infrastructure in Tripoli and other territories in the West (under Gaddafi’s control), the Gaddafi government would have still been in charge of the country called Libya.

Remove the NATO factor from the equation and you will see the rebels’ gains reversed by the pro-Gaddafi forces. The question, then, is: Can the rebels and their TNC claim to be truly fighting for democracy in Libya for all Libyans and that they can do so by rejecting the peace overtures outlined by the African Union or the Gaddafi government’s own concessions to end the hostilities? I don’t think so.

I am also uneasy because the rebel leaders and the ragtag bands of rebel fighters don’t seem to have what it takes to unite the country in a post-Gaddafi era. Apart from the common threat of hatred for Gaddafi that binds them, there is nothing to confirm that the rebels are well-cut-out to superintend over Libya to administer affairs to the satisfaction of the citizens.

And that’s why I consider as dangerously premature the flurry of diplomatic recognition from the countries that have conspired to destroy Libya under the pretext of solving humanitarian problems.
As a result of the insurgency and the backing that the rebels enjoy from the International Coalition, the country has virtually been divided into two: West Libya (still under the Gaddafi government’s control) and East Libya (tentatively in the hands of the rebels). We can’t say at this stage that East Libya is a stable political and economic entity capable of standing alone to command and control the Libyan citizens living there. There may be territories claimed by the rebels but their hold on them is tenuous. In a country where ethnic allegiances are definitely strong and hold sway over official government business, we can see danger ahead, especially if the guns are dropped and there is no common enemy to focus on.
What we see emerging at this stage is a fragile political authority that is being nurtured by the International Coalition to rule East Libya. Not until the Gaddafi government crumbles (either under pressure from those now bombarding it or from an implosion, especially if a successful insurrection in Tripoli and other cities forces it to collapse), there is the probability that it will continue to exert its influence on the country called Libya.


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