Libya: Why the Worst is coming from the West – By Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

Stranded migrant workers wait in the no-man's land between Libya and the Egyptian border post at Sallum/Photo: UNHCR. F. Noy
From all indications, the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1973 has become an albatross with very nasty implications. Initially couched and perceived as a blessing—because it was meant to solve humanitarian problems arising from the rebellion against Gaddafi’s regime—the Resolution seems to be ushering in unpleasant developments.

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From what has transpired so far, following the implementation of that resolution, we can tell that the good things that the Resolution was intended to achieve aren’t forthcoming, apparently because of the manner in which the West is handling matters and the fact that the appropriate solution is being by-passed in favour of the military option that is only strengthening the resolve of the pro-Gaddafi forces to dig in.

DEPLOYMENT OF MILITARY TEAMS

The decision by Britain and France to send a team of “EXPERIENCED military officers” to Benghazi to advise and coordinate the efforts of the anti-Gaddafi forces in their rebellion to overthrow Gaddafi is the latest in the military option, which is as repugnant as it will backfire. The British team will provide logistics and intelligence training for the rebels in Benghazi. It is not yet clear what the French want to do, although we can guess that they will also organize the ranks of the rebels.

Inspired by the British and French move, Italy has also indicated its preparedness to follow suit. Then, the United States has decided to offer $25million to the rebels to support their technical preparations to intensify their rebellion. These measures are not surprising but are clearly out of sync with what should be done to solve the Libyan crisis. They are geared toward the very regime change that the West claims is not its objective as it continues to devastate Libya’s infrastructure to get at Gaddafi.

POLITICAL IMMATURITY AT WORK

It is clear that the West doesn’t learn anything from history or the reality of any situation on the ground that it enters. By deciding to send their EXPERIENCED military officers to Benghazi to support this ragtag rebel force, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy have confirmed suspicions that they are IMMATURE and don’t know how to solve problems of international dimensions. They don’t even know the actual history behind their countries’ deplorable activities in Libya. No one should recall the historical antecedents for them because they are available in their own countries’ records for them to refer to and learn from before embarking on a cause that will end in disaster as well. We are waiting for history to repeat itself.

More importantly, I wonder why the French and British citizens will sit down unconcerned to allow their INEXPERIENCED political leaders to send their countries’ EXPERIENCED military officers to Libya to play a role that will not yield any benefits for them or the very country that they are leading the Libyan rebels to destroy. Italy’s Berlusconi is already mired in scandals and is nothing but a bundle of disgrace to be pitied.

WORSENING OF THE LIBYAN CRISIS

From this point onwards, Britain, France, and Italy will be seen as directly participating in a rebellion whose end is not in sight. They will be working hard to worsen the Libyan crisis as they provide the technical support for establishing parallel military institutions in Libya. One institution will be based in Benghazi, the stronghold of the rebels, while the other (which is the national security apparatus controlled by the Gaddafi regime) will be all over the country, wherever the Establishment may choose to deploy it.

With these two parallel military forces operating at cross-purposes in Libya, no one can predict any other future development beyond the intensification of the internecine battles between the rebels and the pro-Gaddafi forces. The window of opportunity for resolving the crisis through the diplomatic and political options is slowly being closed by the very people who should have known better.

Probably, the deployment of these teams of EXPERIENCED military officers to perform the tasks assigned them is one of the tactical and strategic moves that the West has made to take charge of the rebellion in Libya. I will not be surprised if—despite their denial that they won’t send ground troops to Libya—we wake up in the near future to be told that the decision has been made to deploy British, French, Italian, and US troops on the ground. There is too much hypocrisy already.

By this decision to send their EXPERIENCED military officers to Libya, the West is only preparing the ground for a more concerted action to physically take the battle to Gaddafi in areas that have refused to join the rebellion. In that sense, then, they will be stoking the fire and creating more trouble in the country.

MISPLACED SUPPORT FOR A RAGTAG REBEL FORCE

One would expect that these countries allying with the rebels will do more serious groundwork to assess the caliber of the rebels before rushing to support them as much as they think will empower them to eliminate Gaddafi. As presently constituted, the rebel forces remain a ragtag composition, made up of all manner of people with their own personal, ethnic, religious, ideological, political, and economic interests. These elements cannot be relied on to remove Gaddafi from office and settle down to unify Libya or work concertedly for its advancement. Does the West really want Libya to progress, anyway?

The rebel forces have no leaders. Those constituting the Transitional National Council don’t even trust each other. The prominent ones (political and military) were the very people who had supported Gaddafi and carried out his orders until February 16 when they switched sides to be in the camp of the rebels. What crime will anybody accuse Gaddafi of that these rebel leaders are not equally guilty of?

Yet, they are those the West now trusts well enough to empower for the tasks that have been defined for them to perform in Libya. The level of distrust and mistrust in the rebel camp is high and suggests that there is lack of unity among the main players, as we can infer from the confusion that arose among the military commander and those accusing him of being a Gaddafi ally in their midst and not wanting him to play any frontline role.

If the West goes ahead to put weapons and money in the hands of these rebel forces, it will worsen the Libyan crisis. I agree with the Libyan Foreign Minister, Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, that the presence of foreign military personnel would be a “step backwards.” It will worsen the situation as well because the Libyan crisis demands more of a diplomatic and political solution than the military one that NATO is so fixated on as to continue destroying infrastructure and human lives with impunity.

This political and diplomatic solution is clearly evident in the moves made by the African Union, which the rebels rejected because of the renewed hope they have that NATO’s support will definitely win the day for them.

Again, the Libyan government’s own package of political and diplomatic concessions to solve the problem has also been rejected by the rebels. According to the Libyan Foreign Minister, the package included provisions that there should be a ceasefire followed by an interim period of, maybe, six months to discuss democracy and constitutional reforms, and prepare for an election that would be supervised by the UN—a proposal initially made by the African Union.

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL AS A PUPPET

That is why I have an issue with the role of the United Nations in the devastation of Libya’s infrastructure under the guise of solving the “humanitarian problem” arising from the rebellion. I stand to be corrected; but let me say aboveboard that although he still has some years to end his first term in office, Ban Kim Moon will go down in history as the worst performing UN Secretary-General. For several reasons, he has established a reputation for himself as weak, reactive, and malleable. That’s the more reason why he has become a tool to be used at will by the powerful voices in the world body to achieve their objectives.

This Secretary-General is presiding over a United Nations that can be easily bent to satisfy the desires of those sustaining it through huge financial and material contributions. When they call the tune, he dances to it and pushes the world body into situations that it can do better to stay out of. Or, at best, carefully scrutinize to know the ins-and-outs of and the fallouts therefrom before acquiescing to become a willing tool or a vicarious participant.

The current global happenings attest to the liability that Ban Kim Moon has become. His malleability negatively affects the UN and makes it come across as docile and voiceless in matters in which the United States and its powerful Western allies have a huge stake. He is nothing else but a puppet of the West.

Let me reiterate that Ban Kim Moon isn’t at par with previous leaders of the UN whose names are recalled with admiration. I have in mind others before him such as Dag Hamasrskjold, Uthant, Kurt Waldheim, Perez Javier de Cuellar, and Kofi Annan whose tenure in office didn’t witness the kind of arm-twisting that we are seeing in the affairs of the world body.

Egypt’s Boutros-Boutros Ghali did his best but seemed to have incurred the displeasure of the US, hence, the stiff opposition that he faced in his bid for a second term. On the flip side, Ban Kim Moon seems to be the perfect tool that the US and its European allies need as he is enthusiastically dining, wining, and “bedding” with them and is being manipulated into providing legitimacy for obviously unacceptable decisions and actions by those powers.

The umbrella provided by the UN that legitimizes the current devastation going on in Libya is a perfect example of that misuse of the aegis of the UN to satisfy the ambitions of the West and their weaklings in the Arab League who see the continued popularity of Libya’s Gaddafi as a threat to their own status.

The Libyan crisis is a political problem that must be solved politically. Insisting on the military option will not end the crisis no matter how much of Libya’s infrastructure the West bombards. Considering the fragmented nature of the rebel forces and the fact that they have nothing binding them except their common hatred for Gaddafi, any ill-considered financial and material support that the West gives them to boost their rebellion will help them wreak more havoc on Libya than the country needs to pursue a path of governance determined by its own internal dynamics.

WHY THE WEST IS AT FAULT

In any case, the momentum with which the rebellion erupted in mid-February is gone. The uprising that was intended to shake the foundation of Gaddafi’s government and sweep him out of power as happened to his colleagues in Tunisia and Egypt seems to have fizzled out and is now evident only as an armed resistance. There is a huge difference between an uprising by civilians to overthrow their government and an armed rebellion by rebels. That’s what the West has failed to understand about the Libyan crisis.

The rebels are now buoyed up by NATO’s air strikes even though the targets being destroyed have nothing to do with the battles going on in Misrata and Brega or Ajdabiya. By rejecting the peace overtures made to them, the rebels have indicated strongly that they will fight till the last fighter among them dies. This is their resolve, which the current moves being made by Britain, France, Italy, and the US is aimed at facilitating.

Is that how to solve political problems in a sovereign country, which is a recognized member of the UN? Shouldn’t the UN be the first to seek peaceful means to resolve internal crisis in its member-countries instead of aggressively supporting its powerful voices to carry out their premeditated actions? To all intents and purposes, the current happenings in Libya have the potential to turn that part of the world into a theatre of death, not the democracy and freedom that the rebels and their Western backers are dreaming of. The Libyan crisis demands nothing but a political and diplomatic solution.

E-mail:mjbokor@yahoo.com

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