by Enver Masud
While others clamor for a no-fly zone over Libya, the Libyan rebels’ themselves need to be heard
Yesterday, a CBS News headline read “Libya rebels beg for no-fly as bombings persist”. What is remarkable is that the article gives virtually no information on who are those Libyans that are begging for a no-fly zone.
The only information CBS provides as to the identity of the beggars is in the following paragraph:
In a first hand look at why Libya’s rebels are begging for a no-fly zone, CBS News was first on the scene after a bombing. People ignored the danger and raced to show the damage.
But there’s no shortage of others begging for a no-fly zone. According to the Agence France Presse (March 7), “The Gulf Cooperation Council demands that the UN Security Council take all necessary measures to protect civilians, including enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya”. The Guardian (March 4) reported that the British prime minister, David Cameron,
caused some surprise on both sides of the Atlantic when he called for Britain and its allies to draw up plans for a no-fly zone over Libya, was offered important support by Barack Obama on Thursday night. American military planners had been instructed to draw up a full range of options, including a no-fly zone, Obama said at the White House during a press conference with his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon.
And one has only to turn on CNN to see that most of the debate is about a no-fly zone over Libya. Essentially missing are the voices of the Libyan rebels themselves.
“Hafiz Ghoga, a spokesman for the protesters’ new National Libyan Council, insisted that calls for foreign intervention were entirely unwelcome, adding that the protesters have taken most of the nation and “the rest of Libya will be liberated by the people”, according to Jason Ditz, at Antiwar.com.
Yesterday’s editorial in the Guardian offers sound advice:
Some Libyan rebels have called for a no-fly zone, but until now – and this may change – the mood of the Libyan uprising is that this is their fight and their fight alone. Quite apart from the unwarranted legitimacy a bombing campaign would (once again) confer on the Libyan leader among his rump support in Tripoli and the damage it would do to attempts to split his camp, a major western military intervention could have unforeseen political consequences for the very forces it would be designed to support. A no-fly zone saved lives in Kurdish northern Iraq, but failed to protect the Shias in the south under Saddam Hussein. The moral strength of the Libyan rebels and their political claim to represent the true voice of the people both rest partly on the fact that, like the Egyptians and the Tunisians, they have come this far alone. The revolt is theirs, they are no one else’s proxy, and the struggle is about ending tyranny rather than searching for new masters. Even if Gaddafi’s forces succeed in checking the advance of rebel forces, and the civil war becomes protracted, it is the home-grown nature of this revolt that contains the ultimate seeds of the destruction of Gaddafi’s regime. Thus far, it is Gaddafi and his sons who have had to import hired guns from abroad.
Jeremiah (Jerry) Haber (his nom de plume), an orthodox Jewish studies and philosophy professor, who divides his time between Israel and the US is more specific:
President Obama has already said that Muammar Gaddafi has lost his legitimacy as Libya’s leader, so an important and necessary precursor to the whole debate about providing military or non-military assistance to Libya’s revolutionaries, is formal recognition of their leadership: the Interim National Transitional Council in Benghazi.
The Council has formed an executive team headed by Dr Mahmoud Jebril Ibrahim El-Werfali and Dr Ali Aziz Al-Eisawi who will represent Libya’s foreign affairs and have been delegated the authority to negotiate and communicate with all members of the international community and to seek international recognition.
The Transitional Council’s third decree dated March 5, ends: “we request from the international community to fulfil its obligations to protect the Libyan people from any further genocide and crimes against humanity without any direct military intervention on Libyan soil.”
That seems to leave open the question about whether a no-fly zone is being sought.
Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. All that oil, and “the allure, close by, of the US$10 billion, 4,128 kilometer long Trans-Saharan gas pipeline from Nigeria to Algeria, expected to be online in 2015″ has many U.S. elites salivating at the prospect of U.S.-European intervention in Libya.
Veteran Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar writes:
Clearly, the “intervention option” is propelling the Anglo-American juggernaut. A little behind, France tags along not to miss out on the “peace dividends” that follow the intervention – Libyan oil. The parallel with the Iraq war is striking, except that things are on a fast-forward mode.