by Keith Locke
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.