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‘Friends Of Libya’ Coalition Or Occupation? – OpEd

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By Mohyeddin Sajedi

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officially concluded its seven-month military campaign in Libya, and announced it would end all of its its measures by October 31, 2011.

This is while Libya’s new leaders have requested NATO to extend its mission until the end of December.

NATO warplanes have carried out more than 26,000 sorties over the North African nation, and attacked 6,000 military targets. A large number of innocent civilians lost their lives in these attacks, and several of the country’s military and economic were destroyed.

Despite the efforts of NATO commanders to show that their operations in Libya are only limited to air and missile strikes, there is abundant information in western media indicating that NATO has deployed forces in the North African country.

The deployment has been justified under the pretext of intelligence gathering, sabotage and espionage. The arrest of British soldiers in Libya and the efforts to exchange them in Algeria proved the broad interpretation of western governments of ‘supporting the Libyan people’ resolution.

According to US official, a number of US military experts were looking for man-portable air-defense missile in Libya, before Gaddafi was killed, in order to destroy them under the pretext that radical groups may get their hand on them.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) lifted its mandate for a no-fly zone over Libya and ended the international oil, military and economic sanctions against the country.

Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa accused NATO of having exceeded the resolution ‘supporting the Libyan people.’

Violating the resolution has brought caused concern that similar resolutions with regards to other countries such as Syria may also lead to military intervention. Therefore Russia and China vetoed UN sanctions on Syria, and Brazil, India and South Africa abstained.

In spite of the fact that NATO will end its operation in Libya on Monday, a new alliance has been formed to supervise the situation in the country.

The coalition, called ‘Friends of Libya’, stated its mission is to train the Libyan army and help the country and has no intention of deploying forces in the North African state.

The first meeting of the “Friends of Libya” coalition was held in Qatar’s capital of Doha, where the commander of Qatari army said his country had dispatched several hundred soldiers to Libya to help the opposition fighters.

Therefore, although the new coalition insists it will not send any forces to Libya, the presence of NATO, Qatari, and Jordanian troops in the country over the past months has raised the possibility of the recurrence of the measure in the future.

The United States, Britain, France, and Italy are members of the new coalition, and leadership has been handed to Qatar. The Qatari army does not have much military capability and thus delegating the coalition leadership role to it is aimed at using the financial power of this little rich country which has involved itself in many cases.

Qatar heading the Arab League delegation in charge of holding negotiations with the Syrian leaders is another example of these cases. Membership of Qatar and a few other Arab states in this coalition provides a regional umbrella for it.

The Libyan war cost USD three billion, USD two billion of which was paid by Western governments and the remaining one billion by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In an attempt to assure American taxpayers, US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said that all the United States has spent in Libya over the past eight months equals its expenses in Afghanistan or Iraq in a week.

The new coalition for the future leadership of Libya has no backing in the United Nations, nor has it gained any international legitimacy. Given the stances of Russia and China in the UN Security council, obtaining such legitimacy looks impossible or very difficult. Thus, the coalition will most likely refuse to publicize its activities.

Those states that regard the attack on Libya and overthrow of Gaddafi’s regime as a great success still do not have a clear vision of the future of the country. During the celebration to Libya’s “liberation”, the head of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, thanked NATO but demanded the implementation of Sharia law and the abolition of non-Islamic rules in the country, a move which faced the objection of Western governments. Western sources speak of rifts among the new Libyan leaders and their division into Islamist and Liberal groups.

The mission of the “Friends of Libya” coalition consists of supervising the future path of the country, the formation of its transitional government, formulation of the Libyan constitution and the way Libya’s oil money will be spent to purchase arms and compensate for the war costs of NATO and its allies.

Libyan parliamentary elections are set to be held after eight months. The new leaders of Libya may be pleased with the continuation of international support now, but does the formation of the new coalition have another meaning than occupation of Libya under a friendly title?

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