Libya: Why must it now be NATO’s war? – Asks Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

As the turmoil in Libya drags on, it is bringing in its wake very frightening developments. What began as a purely local and internal crisis has now assumed gross global dimensions that must not be allowed to continue. It is now clear that NATO has taken over the war in Libya to fight the cause of the Benghazi-based rebels.

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In a brazen show of military madness, NATO has stepped up its assault on Libya, pounding the capital city (Tripoli) with more than 20 airstrikes within 30 minutes alone early Tuesday in its most intense bombardment yet. This barbarity is part of NATO’s efforts to intensify pressure on the Gaddafi government and force the Libyan leader out of power.

Evidently, NATO is now the fighting force that is destabilizing territories under the control of the Gaddafi government—areas that have not seen any fighting between pro-Gaddafi forces and the rebels to create any humanitarian problem to justify the International Coalition’s presence and actions. This turn of events is disheartening and sets a very nasty precedent that the world shouldn’t accept. It is worsening the conflict, not helping to resolve it.

Where are the voices of good reason and conscience in this world? Is what we are witnessing in Libya the only approach that the United Nations has for conflict resolution?

I urge all the other countries in the world that haven’t joined this campaign of demolition in Libya to rise up against this madness by NATO in a sovereign country that has become the battle-ground of the forces marshalled against Gaddafi by the politically immature leaders of the US, Britain, France, and Italy, among the 24 countries forming this war machine called the International Coalition. Those in the Arab League supporting this campaign are as ruthless in ruling their own countries as they may want to accuse Gaddafi of being. What, then, is the justification for their endorsement of the action against one of their own?

Unless the other powerful voices in the UN Security Council take a decisive action to halt this madness, the situation in Libya will escalate to an agonizingly destructive level. So far, Russia, China, and Brazil have been on the sideline, making statements repudiating the NATO-led action in Libya but without taking any concrete action to halt it or to ensure that other non-volatile measures are adopted to resolve the country. Abstention alone can’t stop NATO’s barbarity.

This inaction has emboldened the US, Britain, and France and the other 21 countries constituting the International Coalition to continue pounding Libya with all the arsenal and venom that they can muster up. They are doing so because they think that they are supported by the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1973. Their ultimate objective is to assassinate Gaddafi and send his government into disarray.

The faint complaints that Russia, China, and Brazil have aired against the International Coalition aren’t strong enough to tilt the balance and bring about the change that will create room for other measures to be used to resolve the conflict. That is why it is imperative for these countries to shift gear and register the strongest protest that will force the aggressors to the corner for them to listen to reason. Merely complaining from the fringes won’t solve the problem.

The leaders of those countries have to initiate moves to call for an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council to re-appraise NATO’s actions in Libya. By escalating the devastation, NATO has certainly fallen out of control and must be reined in. This reining in can be done successfully only if the UN General Assembly or its Security Council meets to reconsider the Libyan crisis. Russia, China, Brazil, and the other powerful voices in the UN have the capability to do so and shouldn’t drag their feet any longer. What NATO is doing is a very bad precedent that must not be tolerated.

There are no battlegrounds in the Libyan cities to create humanitarian problems except the bombing raids by NATO that has pushed the Libyan situation to a more dire level than what the world had witnessed between the pro-Gaddafi forces and the Benghazi-based rebels hitherto. Within the context of the new developments that have reduced the legitimacy of NATO’s actions to absurdity, it is important that those countries that have the veto power re-assess their stance on the Libyan crisis to be able to introduce measures that will force NATO to halt its barbarity in Libya.

Indeed, if nothing is done to that effect, the world will stand to lose because once this nasty precedent is set, it can be re-enacted elsewhere with the least pretext. This precedent being set by the US and its allies is an ugly one which must not be countenanced at all. The fear is that if nothing is done to halt it and it goes the full hog to result in the callous assassination of Gaddafi and his government functionaries or the total annihilation of Libyan infrastructure (that is wrongly being portrayed as Gaddafi’s military capabilities), the US and its allies will think that they can use similar means in future anywhere in the world that they want to enter.

We have already heard from the US’ Obama that he will repeat the raid in Pakistan that led to the killing of Osama Bin-Laden if the need arises. This audacious threat is a clear indication that the US considers military actions as the most potent measure to rely on to pursue its interests in other countries. Maybe, this threat is a veiled one to suggest that what NATO is doing in Libya is just an extension of the strategy that Obama is so proud of as to uphold.

The continuation of the devastating bombings in Libya isn’t justified by the reality of the situation on the ground. As of now, there is no serious fighting going anywhere in the areas controlled by Gaddafi’s government or the strongholds of the Benghazi-based rebels. There is no serious humanitarian crisis in Libya to warrant the escalation in bombing raids by NATO. So, the question is: What at all is NATO seeking to achieve by taking over the war from the Benghazi-based rebels? If it is not to soften the ground for the rebels to extend their insurgency to those areas, what else can it be?

This situation doesn’t bode well for Africa, particularly, and the African Union must raise its voice and go ahead to demand a cessation of all foreign aggression against Libya. What is the African Union afraid of that it can’t aggressively register its protest and follow it with concrete action to bend the back of the West? The fact that its proposals have been rejected doesn’t mean that the Union mustn’t do anything else but look on untroubled for Libya to be torn apart by the West.

It must be apparently clear by now to the leaders of South Africa, Nigeria, and Gabon that their complicity in the campaigns against a sister-African country has become a major cause for worry. Considering the extent to which Libya has been destroyed by NATO, it shouldn’t be difficult for these African leaders to realize that they are the traitors who have sent the Gaddafi government to the slaughter house of the West. I wonder how they can confidently hold their heads high on May 25—African Union Day—when they join their colleagues in Addis Ababa.

If they manage to do so, will it be because they want to join others celebrate any positive achievements of the AU or because they are singularly and collectively guilty of selling out one of their own to be slaughtered by the West? Will they be celebrating the occasion with a clean conscience? Shame unto the Presidents of South Africa, Nigeria, and Gabon!!

We are being told that as the AU meets in Addis Ababa, the situation in Libya will be high on its agenda. I hope that deliberations on this agenda will not end in smoke but be resolutely followed through to ensure a halt in the devastation of Libya. If the AU’s summit turns out to be indecisive, ineffectual, or inconclusive on this score, it will be a huge stain on the integrity of the Union. It will be the catalyst to destroy the AU itself.

Whatever happened over the weekend when the joint consultative meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council opened in Addis Ababa hasn’t yielded anything concrete to reassure Africans that their leaders constituting this AU are problem-solvers. We expect action from them, not mere hot air.

As the Assembly of Heads of State meets in an extraordinary session in Addis Ababa on May 25 and 26 to review the state of peace and security on the continent, the message must reach those African leaders that the situation in Libya must not only be recorded as a priority but it must be reviewed as a necessity and a firm decision made to force NATO to leave the continent. Africa has suffered too much at the hands of these Western powers for more than 500 years and must take action to be left alone.

No more talk-shop business should go on at the AU’s summit. The time for concrete action to move the continent forward has long since elapsed. This Libyan crisis could have been tackled in a better manner had the AU been strong enough to take concrete actions to prevent the International Coalition from entering Libya with impunity to devastate it. But knowing very well that most
African leaders are the internal collaborators of the West’s neo-colonialist agenda on the continent, there are genuine apprehensions that they cannot talk back to the West. They fear being exposed as crooks and agents of destabilization who eventually end up as the victims of their own treachery as such.

That double-edged-sword nature of our leaders is the main problem that hinders Africa’s progress. Will the AU speak with one voice for once to assert its influence in ridding the continent of these Western war mongers? Something drastic must come from them at this May 25–26 summit to halt this impudence on the part of the West in Libya. NATO must not be allowed to destroy Libya.

One thing is clear. The Benghazi-based rebels may be against Gaddafi but they shouldn’t be used as the excuse to tear an African country apart. Who knows where these war-mongers will go next on the continent? That’s why the Libyan crisis needs a better handling than this waywardness on the part of NATO and those orchestrating its barbarity in Libya.