The Libyan mess

In March the Greens came out in opposition to the NATO air operations over Libya. We said they would probably prolong Gaddafi’s stay in power by allowing the dictator to present himself as a nationalist, fighting foreign intervention. Four months later we’ve been proved right.  

The Western intervention was contrary to the UN Charter and based on three lies; that there was going to be a massacre of civilians; that the Arab League supported intervention; and that there was only going to be a ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya. The Arab League had met, but only eleven of the member countries turned up, giving the six Gulf states (all dictatorships) a majority for their Saudi-inspired pro-intervention motion. The “no-fly-zone” was quickly forgotten as NATO planes targeted any government facility, military or  non-military, and tried to assassinate Gaddafi and his associates. It also became clear that most members of the Security Council disagreed with the way the operation was being implemented, and that there was little support from the rest of the world.

The African Union did not accept Gaddafi had intended to massacre civilians and it attacked the NATO bombing as an dangerous intervention in an African civil war. At the Security Council, the African Union spokesperson, Dr Ruahakana Rugunda, said NATO was undermining AU efforts to negotiate a solution by demanding that Gaddafi go before any dialogue began.

It now looks as if some Western governments are softening their position, with talk about a negotiated transition to a post-Gaddafi government. One problem is that NATO has endorsed its favourites in the National Transitional Council which are not trusted by several of the armed rebel groups.

After the debacle in Libya it is no wonder the Syrian democrats are not calling for military intervention. They are confident they can win by themselves, with the moral support of the international community.

We’ve seen great bravery from ordinary Syrians. Despite a death toll now reaching around 1600, protest numbers continue to rise. After last Friday’s prayers, hundreds of thousands once again poured into the streets – including in Damascus. The Assad regime is now on the back foot. We have to do our bit to help. The Auckland Syrian community has been active – I spoke at a big meeting they hosted on July 3. But unfortunately our government is not listening, with Foreign Minister Murray McCully  barely mentioning Syria these past few months.

12 Comments Posted

  1. Analysis

    Qaddafi’s regime might be finished, but a bitterly divided opposition means Libya’s troubles may just be starting, writes Abdel Bari Atwan in the Guardian.

    Public disorder and instability in Libya could emerge if the Qaddafi regime falls. The United States should support a stabilization effort, says a CFR report by Johns Hopkins’ Daniel Sewer.

    (links embeded over at pundit)

  2. I see you have arrived here phil, belatedly, but Keith probably has not looked back on this since May and if he had what was there to respond to?

    I was prepared to suggest that there was no surety that the approach used in the case of Syria that he would have chosen for Libya was going to be more effective. Time would tell. Finally the sanctions stage has now been reached in Syria, but after a lot of civilian deaths. But still outcomes in both cases are uncertain.

    Frankly if was responding to your allegation of being wrong footed (when I was merely fronting a party policy on opposing war crimes and human rights abuses) and not responding to challenges (that were not even made here, but somewhere else later that he probably has not seen) I would have ignored it.

    As for the claim of his/Green Party supporting ‘paid CIA mercenaries, al Qaeda operatives, islamic extremists, monarchists…” what can be said

    1. his post and party policy is clearly stated as being opposed to NATO/western/military intervention

    2. negative profiling of the Libyan opposition is not an argument that the people of Libya deserve to have their human rights violated, that use of military force against originally peaceful unarmed protest was valid.

    In both Syria and Libya there is a regime in place that is in some end state where no challenge is allowed, not to a one party regime in Syria or to some post revolutionary permanent arrangement in Libya – neither can be challenged by allowing democratic processes and contestability. Thus human rights abuses are endemic and the resort to the military option when the fixed state is subject to group displays of dissent.

    Neither was in position to withstand the so called Arab spring unchallenged, and by their response each regime discredited themselves and undermined the credibility of their political brand. Those who admire anything about what the governments have done should be perturbed by that, rather than challenge those who raise legitimate concerns about human rights abusers and war crimes.

  3. From a British perspective – why bother sticking our nose into it – just let them all get on with it. We have enough problems in Afganistan at the moment.

  4. does being keith locke mean you just don’t have to answer the very real concerns/questions over your total wrong-footing on this issue…?

    yr refusal to answer just reeks of overweening arrogance on yr part..

    not a good look…eh..?..

    esp from one who has spent his life questioning authority…

    ..demanding answers..

    ..and when the boot is on the other foot… don’t have to deign to answer..?


  5. Invasions of countries are somewhat rare, Iraq could have been lawfully invaded during the liberation of Kuwait for example and the terms of the cease-fire (WMD inspections and the like) were still in play and exploited as a rationale for the non-lawful invasion and occupation in 2003. Afghanistan was invaded because the regime was hosting al Qaeda.

    Generally sanctions are proposed when nations murder their civilians or sytematically fail to maintain human rights (such as with laws associating dissent with terrorism as Saudi Arabia is now doing), sometimes no fly zones – where this is both useful and practicable.

    That no snactions have been applied on Syria encourages the Egyptian military regime (and others) to revert to kind – banning observers during their election is of a determination to both signal to voters they only have limited options for change and an eventual arranged outcome will occur regardless.

  6. Why would the World Police invade Syria? Experts generally agree that Syria will become a net importer of petroleum not later than 2012 (wiki).

  7. It would be more accurate to have put it that 4 months later you still think you are right.

    Whereas I think Libya has a better future than Syria because of the intervention, not despite it.

    Tolerance for Syria’s killing of its unarmed civilians has led the military regime to ignore the people – banning even foreign observers from their “elections”.

  8. you’re amazing Keith. Don’t know how you keep track of all these issues but so glad that you do!

  9. I think Aotearoa/NZ needs to be careful about automatically taking sides when NATO or the USA going into these countries, ‘all guns blazing’. Do we want to get caught up in another Iraq or Afghanistan, just because the word ‘terrorism’is thrown into it ? Or is it just another grab for Oil resources ?? Kia-ora

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