I’m relieved to see Libya is getting media attention again. I was afraid Gaddafi would destroy all his opposition and the world would conveniently look the other way, but it was just that Japan got the focus for a while. As it should. One heart-warming thing about that country’s terrible challenges has been the response of so many countries around the world. And not just lip-service. Could we really be moving towards a world where countries help each other and everybody wants peace and prosperity more than they want revenge and power?
It seems that that might be the case in the Middle East. Yesterday Gaddafi warned the opposition rebels that “we are coming” and he would show them no mercy, no compassion. He clearly thought he was untouchable. But it was enough to tip the scales for the UN Security Council who voted 10 to 0 to pass the resolution for an arms embargo on Libya, a freezing of Libyan assets, a no-fly zone and the use of whatever military force is necessary to protect Libyan civilians from being slaughtered by Gaddafi.
Five countries abstained. Germany is nervous about getting involved in a way which couldn’t be won, China dislikes the idea of using international military intervention – naturally, given its own human rights record. Russia, Brazil and India also abstained but nobody vetoed.
Today Gaddafi did a 180 degree turn. The Libyan Foreign Minister gave a press conference in which he said Libya will abide by the resolution and declared a cease-fire and halting of all military operations. He made out of course that Gaddafi and his regime were the good guys, but what else was he going to do? Interesting that Gaddafi didn’t make the speech. I suspect he’s been strong-armed.
The Foreign Minister went on to express sadness at the blanket no-fly zone and the freezing of Libyan assets, because these two actions would hurt Libyan civilians. He also said Libya was annoyed that the UN is allowed to use military force. Parting shots of a loser. The speech clearly wasn’t written by Gaddafi, whose previous speeches all show what a psychopathic narcissist he is. Well, he’s finally hit his losing streak. Many think his games aren’t over, that he’s just buying time, that in this period of cease-fire he’ll move and hide all his firepower.
Personally I think he’s not calling the shots any more. The sulky rhetoric part of the Libyan Foreign Minister’s speech is meaningless. I think the reality is more likely to be that the ruling group understands foreign military intervention will be the end for them.
The UN Resolution calls for swift military action and US and its NATO partners have various contingency plans. These include air strikes and cruise missile attacks on Libyan air defenses and military units being used on rebels. Two countries from the Arab League will be taking part. I hope this is the end of all the fighting and that those brave Libyans who have given so much finally succeed in their quest for peace and freedom.
I’m so relieved the UN passed the resolution. Even looking at this from a cynical perspective, that everybody’s just worried about oil, it’s still great that it’s becoming less and less in anybody’s interests to support tyrants and dictators in the Middle East. And the power has actually come from the people. Extraordinary. The more they succeed, the easier it’s going to be for others to follow suit.