ISSN 2330-717X

Libya: Time To Act

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How long will the world remain a mute spectator to the madness of Qaddafi?

Libya continues to hurtle down to the precipice. Amid fierce fighting and fantastic claims and counterclaims of Muammar Qaddafi and opposition forces, a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding across the North African country. Proving his detractors right, Qaddafi has unleashed murderous force on his own people using all the deadly firepower at his disposal.

Even as the crafty colonel goes to absurd lengths to insist ad nauseam that he holds no position in the “people’s republic” and that all his people “love” him, he spares no effort to annihilate the very same people. To top it all, he demands international help as he is — according to him — fighting Al-Qaeda and international terrorism.

And yes, also needed is, says he, an urgent UN and African Union probe into the ongoing “conspiracy against people’s power”! While there has never been any dearth of Qaddafi’s shenanigans, he seems to have broken his own stellar record of lunacy. Clearly, in the make-believe world that the Libyan dictator has built around himself, there’s no place for ephemeral things like reality, reason and common sense. This is why it’s not possible for him to see the stark writing on the wall.

While he is welcome to live in this phantasmagoria forever, how long can a tormented and terrorized people survive the nightmare that is Qaddafi’s Libya? Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes and cities to flood the country’s borders with Tunisia and Egypt desperate to escape the all-out battle for Libya. Tens of thousands of foreign workers from Africa and Asia have been caught in the crossfire, with most of them forced to flee with nothing but their clothes. Rights groups fear that close to 10,000 lives have already been lost in the regime’s crackdown on the unprecedented people’s revolt.

Pope Benedict XVI has joined the prayers being offered across the Islamic world, and beyond, for the safety and deliverance of Libyan people. The pontiff has called for rushing aid and all possible help to those affected. However, given the bloody chaos prevailing in Libya right now, it’s not easy getting in humanitarian aid. Nevertheless, the world community must do all it can to help Libya in this critical hour. More important right now though is reigning in Qaddafi’s hired guns and stopping the bloodshed. Given Qaddafi’s desperation and utter ruthlessness in dealing with all dissent, it is critically important that the international community move fast to stop him.

While UN sanctions were doubtless the right thing to do, they alone aren’t going to force the regime to fall in line. In fact, as the experience in Iraq and elsewhere shows, they’ll only end up hurting ordinary people.

What is urgently needed for now is a “no-fly zone” restricting and preventing the Libyan jets and forces from targeting civilian population. The Arab League and the OIC have warned against foreign military intervention in Libya. Given the reprehensible record of Western military interventions in the Islamic world, these sentiments are understandable and justified. Indeed if the US and other Western players intervene in Libya, the situation could only worsen adding to the anger in the greater Middle East and beyond.

This is why the West and UN must tread cautiously in Libya. That doesn’t, however, mean the world should stand and stare while a megalomaniac tyrant goes amok hunting and killing his own people as though they are animals.

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Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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