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بدھ، 13 اپریل، 2011

NATO at a crossroads

While the rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya have come to a definite deadlock with neither side being able to gain a decisive victory, the NATO forces, which were legally ( with the UN Security Council resolution ) entitled only to protect the civilian population but de facto used this document resolution as an excuse to help only one side in the conflict, have also confronted a situation fraught with unpredictable consequences.

Britain and France have demanded stepping military efforts to help the rebels, while Gaddafi’s forces are gaining ground both around Ajdabiya in the east of the country and Misrata in the west.
At the same time, the NATO command is sticking to the position that it is “conducting its military operations in Libya with vigor within the current mandate. The pace of the operations is determined by the need to protect the population.”
Meanwhile, the African Union has intensified its attempts to help broker a peaceful resolution to the Libyan conflict. Muammar Gaddafi has basically accepted the proposals worked out by the African Union, but the rebels have rejected them. Recall that at the very beginning of the conflict in Libya, the African Union tended to support the rebels. At least, it did not sharp oppose to the beginning of NATO operation.
Actually, the whole situation reflects the total lack of purpose of the NATO operation in Libya, rather than any imperial ambitions on the part of Britain or France. Yes, those two countries would definitely like to present themselves as the leading powers in Europe, especially when the US has virtually withdrawn from the operation. But the main question now is not that of European leadership, but rather of what the Western countries are trying to attain in Libya.
There have been a lot of speculations on the issue of Libyan oil. However important it may be for countries of Southwest Europe, it is hardly an issue worth fighting for – Gaddafi’ s regime faultlessly supplied oil to France, Italy and other countries in today’s anti-Gaddafi coalition.
Another aspect is even less worthy of a mention – the so called “human rights”. It has been shown much too often that this notion is a double-edged sword used by Big Brother countries whenever they feel like “bringing someone to justice”.
What really becomes obvious is that most of the countries that initiated the military campaign against Muammar Gaddafi today feel at a loss for what to do next. It is clear that even with all the military might of NATO, the rebels are unable to topple Gaddafi – partly due to their own incompetence, and partly due to the fact that whether we like it or not, the majority of Libyan population still support their leader.
And then, even if they succeed, what’s next? What real force is capable of governing Libya after Gaddafi is gone? And won’t the infamous Al Qaeda prevail ONLY thanks to the West’s efforts to topple Gaddafi?
This feeling of frustration was further demonstrated at the recent meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg. The discussion centered around the situation in Libya, but the ministers were unable to come up with anything other than just reiterating the need to increase humanitarian aid to the Libyan population (the air bombs and cruise missiles hardly conform to that definition).
As British Foreign Secretary William Hague (one of the most ardent proponents of an increase in the military force) said in Luxembourg, “Events in the Middle East are the most important events so far in the 21st century in the world, and the responsibility of the European Union is commensurate with the historic nature of those events.”
The phrase itself sounds good, but what did he really mean? And does Mr. Hague really know what the West is trying to attain in Libya?
In an old Russian fairy tale, the protagonist is sent to “some unknown place” with an order to bring “some unknown thing”. Something along these lines is happening today with the NATO operation in Libya.
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