Stuck In Libya – OpEd


Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi remains a thorn in the side of the world community. You can’t take it out nor can you ignore it and sleep easy. For all their might the NATO and leading lights of the Western military alliance, United States, Britain and France have failed to force out the Libyan dictator.

They may have saved “thousands of lives,” as British Foreign Secretary William Hague claims, but they have not been able to stop the deadly march of pro-Qaddafi forces. Tens of thousands of people remain besieged in rebel-controlled cities like Misrata as the Libyan forces constantly pound them.

Indeed, instead of helping the hopelessly disorganized and ill-equipped rebel forces, the NATO forces have ended up bombing them in what has come to be euphemistically underplayed as “friendly fire” killing scores of them on several occasions. The situation would be comical if its results hadn’t been so tragic. It’s nearly two months since the long persecuted Libyan people rose up against their tormentor in a groundswell of unprecedented fury and protest.

After some dramatic strides resulting in the fall of strategic cities like Benghazi, Zawiyah and Misrata, the Libyan revolution has come to a grinding halt after coming face to face with the characteristic ruthlessness of the tyrant and his murderous forces.

The deadlock has endured even after France and Britain, closely followed by the US and NATO, jumped in the fray following the calls by the Arab League and the United Nations to impose a “no fly zone” over Libya to protect the vulnerable civilian population.

In fact, Libya has come to test the limits of the so-called international intervention like no other conflict has since the West intervened in the Balkans in the last century to stop the ethnic cleansing of Albanian Muslims.

Let’s therefore hope that an international emergency summit that is taking place in Doha as we write this comes up with effective steps, and fast, to stop the bloodshed and break the deadlock in Libya. For as the host Qatar, which was the first Arab country to join the Western coalition to join the military rescue in Libya, has warned that every passing day means more victims.

This is indeed a race against time. The more time Qaddafi buys himself and the longer it takes for the world community to end this crisis, the greater destruction it will visit on Libya and the region. Meanwhile an African Union brokered peace formula has been rejected by the rebels as it only talked about a cease-fire and failed to tackle the question of Qaddafi’s future.

As we have argued in this space before, Qaddafi and his kin and kith cannot be part of a solution in Libya simply because he is part of the problem. Indeed, he is the problem and cause of this conflict. Peace and stability will elude the Arab country as long as he remains at the helm.

So the international community must take more effective steps to put an end to this dangerous conflict before it spills across its borders into Arab and African nations around it. The Arab and Islamic states, GCC nations in particular, have to take an unambiguous stand on the issue and must take more decisive action to bring peace to Libya and help its long suffering people. It is no time to stand and stare.

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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