Editorial : Attack on Libya - Monday, March 21, 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/21/attack-on-libya.html

THE Tomahawks, accompanied by warplanes, struck Libya on Saturday. The military operation, led by Europe and the US, did not come as a surprise. A UN Security Council resolution adopted last week called for “all necessary measures” to establish a no-fly zone and protect civilians in the North African country. This was the green signal needed to pave the way for foreign armed intervention in the Libyan crisis. However, the military action seems to be more along the lines of ‘no-fly zone plus’. The allies must realise that if the intervention means putting boots on the ground — as some western leaders have hinted at — there will be a negative reaction in the Muslim world, as the Afghan and Iraqi experiences have shown.
Col Muammar Qadhafi has decided to dig in his heels, proclaiming on Sunday that his forces were prepared for a “long war”. The Libyan state’s propaganda machine has also claimed that there have been civilian causalities caused by the western strikes. We think the use of force against the Qadhafi regime at this point is not a good idea. The sooner it ends the better as western firepower may take a significant civilian toll. The world community is also divided on the use of force, as both Russia and China have opposed military intervention. The African Union also wants a mediated solution. What is more, nobody really knows who the rebels fighting Col Qadhafi’s government are. Are they tribesmen, the political opposition or some other entity? It will complicate matters if a worse alternative to the Libyan dictator is installed because of the one-point western agenda of getting rid of him.
Interestingly, the world’s urgency — perhaps for reasons of realpolitik — seems to be limited to Libya, forgetting other parts of the Arab world where strongmen are also crushing peaceful dissent. In Yemen, pro-government forces shot over 40 protesters at a demonstration in Sana’a on Friday. The Yemeni regime is seen as a bulwark against Al Qaeda, which is believed to have a strong presence in the impoverished country. Hence the use of kid gloves while dealing with Yemen’s autocratic government. In Bahrain, resistance against the Al Khalifa monarchy is hardening, with growing calls for the royal family’s overthrow. The ruling family’s suppression of protests, aided by Saudi military help, is largely responsible for this. With the creation of ‘no-protest zones’ in the Gulf, a greater debate is needed in the West and the UN about how to respond to calls for change in the Arab world, and to decide whether it is ethical to be selective when it comes to supporting or ignoring pro-democracy movements.

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