Libya: The chips have now fallen in place – Says Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The chips have eventually fallen in place for us to know the exact objective of the International Coalition that has been destroying Libya since the United Nations endorsed the military option as its solution to the humanitarian crisis in that country.

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If any doubt had been hanging around about what exactly the International Coalition would do in enforcing the UN Resolution 1973, it must by now have been cleared by events that have unfolded so far.

The International Coalition is a smokescreen for the West and Gaddafi’s opponents in the Arab World to physically use their internal collaborators in Libya to remove him from power. Acting at once as judges and prosecutors in their own case against Gaddafi, their verdict is clear that he must go.

There is, however, division over how to effect the regime change in Libya. Britain and France are calling on NATO to intensify its bombing of Libya while the African Union has settled on a political solution. For how long must these Western elements be told that the Libyan crisis cannot be solved militarily?

The so-called Contact Group on Libya that met today in Doha (Qatar) has brought everything into a clear perspective. It is the final ceremony to anoint the leadership of the rebels (the National Transitional Council) as their choice of government and to determine how to prop it up even as they seek other more destructive military ways to neutralize the Gaddafi resistance.

This move, though not unexpected, might seem to be the beginning of steps to find a political solution to the Libyan Crisis; but it is not. It is just a smokescreen behind which they will hide to cause more destruction of the Libyan infrastructure in the hope of bringing Gaddafi to his knees. Otherwise, why isn’t any of them willing to engage Gaddafi’s government in any negotiation (contrary to what the AU’s delegation did on Monday, but which this Doha meeting has just counteracted)?

Let’s remember that the Doha meeting brought together the very people whose backing for the military option has clogged efforts at finding non-military solutions to the Libyan crisis, which is further complicating the problem. The military exchanges between the two camps in Libya have led to a painful stalemate despite the obvious targeting of the pro-Gaddafi forces by NATO.

Yet, the Doha meeting seemed to insist on that military option as the only abracadabra. The communiqué that it issued at the end of today’s session is specific on the sentiments of the members of the Contact Group, which is that Gaddafi must leave office (and must do so with his sons). This demand is bootless because they know very well that Gaddafi will not honour it, which will give them the pretext to raise their devastation to a higher gear. What will they do next? Only one option left.

It’s not difficult to guess: Take the battle to Gaddafi in his own backyard. Push on NATO to intensify its military actions and move from the current hot spots (Misrata, Ajdabiya, etc.) toward Sirte and eventually reach Tripoli to either physically capture or eliminate those the rebels are against. The complaint by Britain and France against NATO’s current level of bombardment in Libya is a clear harbinger.

Even if they succeed in physically eliminating Gaddafi, his entire family, and those they consider to be the hub of the Libyan government, they will not completely eradicate the Gaddafi factor from that country’s politics. They will only be sowing the seed of discord to endanger Libya’s stability.

We must remember that Gaddafi is not as horrible to the majority of Libyans as the West and its allies in Benghazi will want the world to believe. More pointedly, the Libyan political setup is heavily influenced, shaped, and nourished by ethnicity, which suggests that physically eliminating the Gaddafi element or his government will not completely solve the problem that Gaddafi constitutes to his haters.

The current crisis is not only rooted in the traditional opposition that those in Benghazi have over the years mounted against Gaddafi, which he managed to counteract for his survival to date.

By urging regime change and taking preparatory actions to effect it, the International Coalition has now overstretched its mandate (UN Resolution 1973) from protecting civilians to directly overhauling the Libyan political setup. If that’s not what they are doing, then what else is motivating their excesses?

Why should they continue bombarding anything they perceive as pro-Gaddafi, including human beings whose lives they snuff out with impunity while paving the way for the rebel forces to gain grounds?
We all heard what happened when the NATO air strikes hit a detachment of the rebels, leading to the death of 13 and wounding of others. There was an uproar; but no one is raising an eyebrow whenever pro-Gaddafi forces become the target—and many of them have been killed without being accounted for. Is this purposeful and one-sided destruction of life not in itself abhorrent already?

The fundamental indicator of a “civilian” in this Libyan crisis is fuzzy. In destroying the pro-Gaddafi forces, the International Coalition claims that their actions in the cities they attack endanger life therein. But considering the make-up of the rebel forces, can we say that they are indeed CIVILIANS being attacked by the pro-Gaddafi forces?

Those in the camp of the rebels are not civilians but fighters. Once they wield weapons and embark on military offensives, they can’t any more be considered as civilians. Yet, these are the people the International Coalition is defending while destroying their counterparts just because they are pro-Gaddafi. Is this kind of selective justice that the International Coalition is enforcing in Libya justifiable?

Considering the confusion over who exactly is a rebel or a civilian in this war situation, it is unacceptable for anybody to continue to accuse the pro-Gaddafi forces of targeting civilians for which they must be destroyed. In this state of blurred identities, how can the International Coalition determine who is indeed a civilian to be protected through the destruction of other human lives?

The Doha communiqué has other items, which indicates the extent to which the Contact Group wants to go in supporting the rebels in their bid to intensify their anti-Gaddafi efforts. That communiqué reaffirms the need to arm the rebels; it also said that the delegates at the meeting were examining mechanisms for providing financial aid to the rebels.

The decision to arm and finance the rebels also reveals the real intentions of the International Coalition. Having already shown how much fixated they are on the military option, they want to go ahead to give the rebels the military and financial capabilities that they think will position them to face the pro-Gaddafi forces squarely. This move will be counter-productive and end up deepening the crisis. The Libyan National Transitional Council may be barking for support for its cause but it must prepare itself for unexpected shockwaves. Immobilizing the Gaddafi government through the military means will not happen so easily all too soon.

Counting on NATO to take out the pro-government military hardware and troops, they may see prospects ahead of them; but if the current division within NATO itself over how much bombing should continue in Libya is anything to go by, then, the writing must be clear on the wall for the rebels that their hopes of winning the battle militarily risk being dashed.

Certainly, the UN Resolution 1973 that seems to give legitimacy to NATO’s actions in Libya is already being overstretched and abused. The Resolution explicitly identifies the circumstances in which the foreign intervention should be placed. The initial purpose was to protect civilians endangered by the fighting.

The Resolution didn’t call for the NATO to be doing what it has taken up since the initial sorties by the United States to destroy Libyan infrastructure. What we see happening in Libya is different. NATO is serving as the main force now destroying Libya so as to clear the path for the rebels to install themselves in power.

This Doha meeting seems to run counter to the AU’s “Road Map for Peace.” So also do the contents of its communiqué. It seems the AU and the Contact Group on Libya are working at cross-purposes to solve a common problem. This kind of conflicting approach will not solve the Libyan problem.

Knowing very well that those constituting the Contact Group are the very people supporting the current devastation of Libya; knowing very well that they have the military capabilities that the AU lacks; and knowing very well that they can not only bark but also bite (which the AU lacks), they will go ahead to settle on the one and only option they know, which is the intensification of the bombardment of Libya. They will introduce more sophisticated armaments (especially aircraft with more devastating capabilities) into the equation. They will provide all the logistics that the rebels are crying for in the hope that it will help them make more progress in their military engagement with the pro-Gaddafi forces.

To me, the more the International Coalition turns away from the political solution for the military one, the more it betrays the political immaturity of the leaders whose mandate pushed them into the storm-centre in Libya, in the first place. We can tell from the dogged resolve with which the International Coalition is using the military option that nothing (not even common sense, based on the realities on the ground) will influence any of them constituting this Contact Group on Libya to look far beyond his nose for other options to solve the Libyan crisis.

If they succeed in dislodging the Gaddafi government by force of arms, they may have only a pyrrhic victory to celebrate because they are not likely to rule in peace. Their rise to power will create fertile conditions for Gaddafi’s followers to seek revenge in unpredictable ways. Although Gaddafi has accused elements of the Al-Qaeda as the architects of the ongoing rebellion, it is likely that what the West is doing in that country will end up creating conditions for the pro-Gaddafi forces to turn to such a terrorist group to express their resentment. That’s how terrorists are born and nurtured.

In this haste to rid Libya of Gaddafi, no one seems to realize that the global fight against terrorism may not succeed if actions of the sort that we see currently being taken in Libya prepare grounds for the spawning of anti-West elements, who eventually mature into terrorists of the kind that will not only seek to harm the interests of only the West but also endanger life anywhere they go in this world. The Libyan crisis has all it will take for that part of the World to become a recruitment center or incubator for terrorists. That’s why the crisis must be resolved without arming anybody with double-edged swords.