Some 40 delegations (from the coalition, the UN, NATO, the African Union, and Arab League, but not the Libyan government) met in London today (Tuesday, March 29, 2011) “to discuss the way forward for Libya,” according to BBC news reports.
The meeting, convened by the major players in the International Coalition now devastating Libya, seems to be preparing grounds for determining how Libya should be governed after Gaddafi’s overthrow. As these delegates met to deliberate on the future political direction of Libya, the conspiracies and contradictions thickened.
CONTRADICTION NUMBER ONE
Rebel officials were invited for talks on the meeting’s sidelines, although not to the conference itself. Can anybody understand why the Libyan government was not invited to take part in the deliberations if, indeed, the conveners of the meeting were interested in seeking a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis in Libya?
By inviting the rebels to this meeting, aren’t they being groomed or strengthened to replace the current Libyan government which, inevitably, means a regime change? But there is some quicksand on this political landscape to be wary of. While the revolutionary cause as such enjoys widespread support across eastern Libya, it isn’t clear how much authority the inexperienced rebel leadership exercises. Reposing trust in such rebel leadership is impolitic at this stage when no one yet knows the outcome of the ongoing crisis.
CONTRADICTION NUMBER TWO
Utterances by the key players contradict each other and betray their hidden agenda. While the United States’ Obama insists (even in his address to Americans yesterday) that the International Coalition doesn’t want a “regime change,” others in the US establishment are singing a different song. Obama himself had earlier said clearly that it was time for Gaddafi “to go.” How will Gaddafi “go” without a regime change?
Others didn’t hide their take on the issue. The US Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton), Britain’s David Cameron, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, and all other key personalities have reiterated that “Gaddafi must go now.” Others have insisted that Gaddafi has “lost legitimacy” to remain in power.
Speaking ahead of the conference, the British Foreign Secretary (William Hague) had said that he wanted Col Gaddafi to leave power and face trial at the International Criminal Court.
Certainly, regime change is not part of the UN Resolution 1973 that empowered the Coalition. Thus, what we see happening is a clear case of violation of the very resolution that the Coalition touts as the justification for what it has been doing in Libya all these days.
In practical terms, the International Coalition has persistently bombarded Libya, destroying the country’s air defence system and provided air cover for the rebels to enable them regain lost territories from the pro-Gaddafi forces. By targeting military columns on the ground and destroying them, the Coalition continues to prop up the rebellion to the advantage of the anti-Gaddafi elements. If the action by the Coalition is not geared towards incapacitating Gaddafi’s forces and rendering his government vulnerable to attack, what else could its support for the rebels mean? We can see clearly here that words are not being matched with action.
Of course, we are not surprised at this contradiction because it is part of the duplicity that the Coalition wants to exploit. The US Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton) has said several times that the military action will continue until Col Gaddafi complies with the terms of the UN resolution.
She had already said that the US would provide all forms of assistance to the rebels in their fight to oust Gaddafi from power. But she stressed: “We cannot and must not attempt to impose our will on the Libyan people but we can and must stand with them as they attempt to determine their own destiny.”
CONTRADICTION NUMBER THREE
Britain’s David Cameron said at today’s meeting that Gaddafi’s government remained in “flagrant breach” of the United Nations resolution, citing fresh reports of fighting in Misrata, a city seized by rebels and now under a counterassault by loyalist forces.
Does Cameron know that the Gaddafi government is still in charge of Libya and must assert its influence over every sphere of national life? Or does he expect the pro-Gaddafi forces to fold their arms and look on to be killed by the rebels?
By this statement, Cameron (speaking for all others like him) seemed to imply that there was no justification for Gaddafi’s forces to fight for control of cities that the rebels have been helped by the Coalition to capture. This stance of Cameron is ridiculous. It suggests that he has already closed his mind to the Gaddafi government’s existence.
Thus, there is every indication that the Coalition will not relent in its effort to provide all it can for the rebels to intensify their efforts at toppling Gaddafi. To Cameron and his ilk, there is nothing wrong when the rebels kill the pro-Gaddafi forces; but there is everything wrong when the tide turns against the rebels. What foolishness!
CONTRADICTION NUMBER FOUR
The presence of the African Union delegation at the meeting is not meant to achieve anything apart from a face-saving move to suggest that input from Africa was being sought to tackle the Libyan crisis. The African Union’s opposition of the military option was disregarded by the Coalition. Thus, was the African Union delegation being invited to merely reiterate its objection to the military action or to change its stance?
Although no particular word has emerged on how the AU delegation contributed to deliberations, some of us can stick our necks out to say that the delegation didn’t make any meaningful contribution. It merely sat there to be brow-beaten into submission. After all, in its current state, the AU is already no force to reckon with in such a community of belligerent people.
A clear instance of conspiracy stems from the contradictory stance of the International Coalition and the leaders of the US, Britain, France, and the UN. By sidelining the Libyan government, the organizers of the conference have created the impression that they are ready to work with the rebels as Libya’s de-facto government-in-waiting. Giving such a group this kind of blessing at this stage clearly reveals the mischief that the external forces are up to.
Even before the rebels gain enough grounds to confirm their hold on Libya, they are being recognized as the future wielders of power in Libya. This rash move by the delegations at today’s meeting will lead us to only one end: a stalemate in the Libyan situation.
Now that the demarcation line has been drawn to give us a glimpse into the future of Libya’s political terrain, there is no gainsaying the fact that the conflict will intensify and result in ugly consequences. To achieve its objective of propping up the rebels, the Coalition will definitely continue bombing areas under Gaddafi’s control and paving the way for the rebels to move forward toward annexing territories currently under the control of pro-Gaddafi forces.
Obviously, the pro-Gaddafi forces will not let go easily. The possibility of their wanting to fight to the death or adopting unorthodox tactics to entrap the rebels and take them down is high. We have already been informed about what happened near Sirte yesterday when the pro-Gaddafi forces raised white flags (indicating surrender) only to fire on the rebels when they advanced to overpower them. This strategy enabled them to ward off the rebels’ advance on Sirte.
Consequently, they’ve managed to retain their hold on that city as they moved further toward Ras Lanuf and other territories that the rebels had earlier retaken. For now, the rebels have retreated, hoping that the Coalition will take care of their foes for them. This kind of situation will complicate the crisis. As the ding-dong battle rages on between these pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces, the Coalition will step in to deal severe blows to the pro-Gaddafi forces, which will create more problems.
On the basis of what has already started happening, we can say that the Libyan crisis will not abate soon even if the Coalition succeeds in eliminating Gaddafi on behalf of his opponents. A wave of unrests has already been set in motion and will have far-reaching ripple effects long after the eventual departure of the International Coalition from the Libyan landscape. Therein lies the future destiny of Libya.
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor