Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

Protesters for Libyan freedom in London

It seems like years ago, but only a few months have gone by. The anti-imperialist world raised their virtual glasses in a united toast to the people’s revolutions. When I say this phrase, it seems I need to define every term, so bear with me. I will try to not take any concepts for granted.

The anti-imperialist world as I have come to know it is generally comprised of generally well-to-do intellectual-type folks who engage more time in discourse and social networking than they actually do in developing strategies or training individuals for a radical change in society where local (indigenous) people are their own leaders and determine for their exclusive benefit the policies and economic organisation of their own territory. They however are generally very passionate about the need to seek justice against tyrants and they believe that the people themselves want the same thing, so they do what they can (far from the places themselves) ninety-nine times out of one hundred by raising awareness through their articles, videos, comments, social network activities and fundraisers for more public events to raise awareness (and this cycle continues until it exhausts itself into the next fashionable group of unfortunate others).

With all that awareness-raising, you would be sure that by now, this formidable band of selfless virtual warriors would have convinced all of the world that there is no way on earth that the will of the people should be trampled on and that sooner rather than later, each people will achieve its own autonomy and self-reliance. These people who have concretely moved towards self-liberation might even be so inclined as to bite the hands that looks like it feeds them, if this has to happen for them to truly be free, but an anti-imperialist should never look at his or her own interests as a member of the empire who enjoys the privileges of that status, and should even tolerate great levels of aggression against the empire he calls home.

That said, when first Tunisia, then Egypt, began staging independent demos to demand change in their government systems, inspired by their sheer numbers, they seemed to be fully successful. There was bloodshed among civilians, but it ended, and this was a revolution that was almost like a dream, almost too easy and certainly so full of promise and hope. It even adopted the name that will remain with it for all time, “Arab Spring”, the long-awaited renewal of Arabhood connected to the idea of development of a new society that was going to put people before anything else. That it gained support at a global level probably was intrinsic to its success.

Protesters in Gaza

How did that happen? Well, we all know it was through mass communications, some of it entirely spontaneous between those directly involved, and some of it presented to a wider community to enlist their sympathies and support. It was the fact that the world was watching that perhaps hastened the demise of Ben Ali and Mubarak, and it could also be the fact that a barrier of fear had been broken. Make no mistake, I have been  documenting Egyptian uprisings for at least 3 years, and there are others who like me were not under the impression that Egyptians were passively accepting a lack of political expression and a worsening social crisis. Several of us had commented that it was necessary to break through the impression that Egyptians were incapable of rebellion and to show that there was the emergence of a protest movement that was non-confessional, and was tying together the idea of the rebirth of Arabhood as well as an Egyptian national identity that was as vibrant as the Egyptian people. We could have been some of the few who were not surprised by the revolution, but what did surprise us was the enablement that  this gave to nearby peoples.

Living in the European country closest to Libya and with a colonial past which as recently as 1972 has seen mass expulsions of Libyans of Italian descent, whatever happens in Libya is going to be felt directly. In the past years, hundreds of boats full of refugees have headed toward our shores,  and as has been documented thoroughly, the Libyan regime had utilised the African migrants as a playing card to obtain many things from Italy. The Africans who were brought to Libyan Migrant Detention Centres were actually imprisoned there, and the thought of dying at sea on unsafe and overcrowded ships was a risk almost all of them were desirous to take after months of torment from the military and police branches of the Libyan government. There were truckloads of them driven to the confines of the desert and left there to die, documented by Italian film crews, who were concerned about lives in the face of the “Bilateral Agreements” so that Gaddafi could keep a foothold in Italy’s economy and obtain “aid” worth billions of Euros for infrastructure (some of it I can personally testify was for bunkers), weaponry and telecommunications in exchange for a policy of limiting African immigration from Libyan shores.

Gaddafi’s racism thought it found another foothold in the sensitivities of the Italian government, and his words were carefully used to obtain what he  wanted, a combination of greed and rank racism that I witnessed few anti-imperialists getting upset about.  It deserves being read word by word:

“Europe runs the risk of turning black from illegal immigration, it could turn into Africa. We need support from the European Union to stop this army trying to get across from Libya, which is their entry point. At the moment there is a dangerous level of immigration from Africa into Europe and we don’t know what will happen. What will be the reaction of the white Christian Europeans to this mass of hungry, uneducated Africans? We don’t know if Europe will remain an advanced and cohesive continent or if it will be destroyed by this barbarian invasion. We have to imagine that this could happen but before it does we need to work together.”

Gaddafi's recent "Rome By Night" outing

Gaddafi would come to Italy, honoured by Silvio Berlusconi and the best that the Italian government had to offer by way of hospitality, in order to seal more deals and to re-establish that these two neighbours had the same interests at heart: especially a thirst for petroleum and a provider who would make sure there would be preferential treatment under certain conditions, including keeping Europe white. Berlusconi was also an honoured guest in Libya, promising billions of Euros for schools, retirement homes, infrastructure and other things. It is curious that those continually claiming Libya was fulfilling all of its people’s needs on its own seem to not question why they would need so very much Italian money to do what they claim has already been done. During these visits, our news shows were almost suffering an embarrassment at how to represent it. The feelings run deep, and we had known of the abuses that were going on in Libya. Many of us know Libyans, some of them in exile, “You mean  you can’t go back? What do you mean you can’t go back?” Others who come on scholarships and seem to never want to talk about politics either. I would joke with two friends (one in each category) and call it the Libyan black hole. However, both would easily admit that Libya could be much more than it is, if only it could have the chance for that.

So, I watched the revolutions with other anti-imperialists, and the Libyan revolution had quite a few of us excited at the first moments because  Libya is not a Middle Eastern country and it also has ambiguous and collaborative relations with the empire, and with my nation in particular. I  was naively convinced that true anti-imperialists would welcome the will of the people as sovereign and that the information constantly withheld from us regarding many human rights violations would cause one of those powerful moments of decision: supporting an action that really was going to mean conflict and risk for my own nation. As February 17th approached, (with its planned march in Benghazi of the family members of the 1,200 political prisoners of Abu Salim who had been executed by Gaddafi ) I noticed that a few would start to say it was not a real revolution because a) it was against a leader who claimed to be anti-imperialist, b) it was a tribal conflict that we should not take part in, as it would lead to division of Libya (as if they actually knew or cared!), c)the protesters had some problems that did not make them revolutionary, with the sub-groups of 1) they are seeking the restoration of the monarchy, 2) they are religious fanatics that will turn back the clock on progressive revolutions and make Libya a theocratic state. I asked them if they had the right to determine when a revolution was valid and when it was not, and I was surprised to hear that they were putting conditions on the support of a people, and didn’t they notice the people were demanding their freedom?

I started to check into all my favourite anti-imperialist sites, most of the relevant articles indicated to me by friends on Facebook, and lo and behold, most of these were articles by Westerners. If I had kept count, and I should have, I would have the evidence in front of me that out of 100 articles perhaps 3 were actually penned by Libyans. I got to wondering what was happening when I had been reading and hearing the reports from Benghazi by Mohamed Nabbous, killed by Gaddafi’s squadrons and in the many comments surrounding these interventions, and noticed the enormous gulf in what the Pundits were saying, and what Libyans were saying. It was as if there were two worlds colliding. All of these people claimed to love freedom and to want to do anything necessary to obtain it, but there was that nasty issue of Gaddafi actually threatening to exterminate those who tried. At this point, one would think that this would be enough for one to firmly side with the Libyan people and wonder what the pundits were going on about.

And, at this time, many things entered the scene, such as NATO, which all of us detest, and transitional governments and Libyan officials abandoning their leader and an upsurge in refugees flooding into Tunisia and war and death in the land that only a few weeks before was the next domino with a tyrant’s face that had to be knocked down.

We read of infiltrations of Al Qaeda, (this was what Gaddafi claimed the Thuwar (“rebels” to those who hate them and “freedom fighters” to those who love them), of deals with Empire, of CIA infiltrates and anything else that you can imagine by way of establishing that those who were commemorating the massacre of their loved ones and who were massacred while doing so were SO BAD and if we supported them, we were dupes. I guess it would take a very self-assured person to still want to see the Thuwar and indeed the people opposing Gaddafi in a decent light.

Already involved in a few discussion groups regarding the events in the region, I was invited by friends to join a few private mostly-Libyan discussion groups. I wanted to observe the discourse, and since my sympathies and antipathies were known to me, but not backed up by enough concrete information, I took it as my “personal fact finding mission” to learn as much as I could about the situation from Libyans. Indeed, the discussions in these groups are lively, and shockingly, almost everyone in the groups (which are by no means small either) has a martyr for the cause and has family living in conditions of siege. It is quite a shocker to log in and see someone receiving condolences for his father, his uncle, her brother, a daily litany of suffering and loss… And even more shocking was the coming into contact with a world I should have been more aware of, that of the acceptance of the will and wisdom of God.

Yes, religion plays a big part in many of these struggles, and while this is not a religious war, (and all Libyans practice the same religion for the most part), the element of faith and perseverance that these people surely learned from over four decades of negation of their political freedom is omnipresent. I would also peek into Pro-Gaddafi boards and oddly, there was a sort of violence and lack of humanity that were not even hidden very well. It became almost apparent to me that there was a lot more to this situation than meets the eye.

I got into discussions with American Communists (self-proclaimed, naturally) and leftists in general and when they started to stress that they didn’t like the religious symbolism that they were seeing (as if their taste was going to matter) I had to ask them why they thought they knew better than the Libyans what was best for Libyans. I was told that the Libyans would put the monarchy in. I stated that the TNC issued a statement and it was supported by those I was discussing things with, that there were to be elections and there was going to be an establishment of democracy. These AC + Leftists told me that the Libyans were dupes for the empire and religious fanatics and that if they were not working for a world revolution but for a repressive and authoritative patriarchal set-up, and thus, as AC + Leftists, the Libyans would not be worthy of obtaining their support. I thought that was some cheek. So what I decided to do was to serve as a filter, I invited Libyans to use my board to engage with these anti-imperialists, and many willingly did so. They presented the Libyan point of view, they were kind, patient and tried to explain what the situation was so that it could be understood.

I admit I was shocked at the violent verbal reactions they got. I admit it was the classic Western Pundit thing of orientalism and ignoring the voice of the common man if that common man was not “politically advanced”. It was the thing I see time and again in Palestine activism: the great Western hero (usually white, male, often Christian or Jewish) determines that he or she knows what is best and becomes the spokesman and mouthpiece for Palestinians. It is denial of Palestinian agency, but it is so common and so normal that we tend to not notice it as the alarming trend it is.

McKinney not looking too objective there.

Working for the Man

So, when Cynthia McKinney stepped onto the scene, it is as if the secret prayers of the Gaddafi supporters who also are against the Libyan people’s revolution (they want to deny it’s what it is, but they are unable to turn off our memory cells that far back) had been answered. Black, female, present in the past in brave gestures for Palestine, outspoken against the robbery of the Democratic vote in the Bush elections, pacifist and they can plug their noses on the fact that she actually might represent empire by being involved in the presidential elections as a candidate and as a Roman Catholic. She does fine to complain against NATO abuses and even their involvement, but to become the mouthpiece of Gaddafi went above and beyond the call of duty, even going so far as to follow the game plan he provided while establishing the proper narrative to put forth. She did this as well on Libyan State TV, yes, the same state TV that has been accused by Libyans as sending out calls for ethnic cleansing of the Amazigh people (a linguistic minority in Libya) and those living in cities where protesting became resistance and then revolution.

And it seems, once again, we have thousands of eyewitnesses who the anti- imperialists, Leftists, American Communists refuse to listen to or when they are given the opportunity censor them or hurl insults their way, but when an American “eyewitness” (who has been shown where the Gaddafi cronies have taken her and nowhere else) speaks, she is the one who must be listened to, because she will not change anything, because she has no loved ones there, so whatever happens is politics, because she will have her hardcore followers and for all the ones she loses, she will pick up more, sensing where the anti-imperialist (banter) winds blow, feeding the fundraising machine for awareness-raising in an endless cycle. Those who actually are Libyans are treated to the usual “shut up” that is reserved for “counter-revolutionaries”. All from the comfort of these Western Anti-Imperialist homes far away from where the blood is being shed.

So what is my final remark to anti-imperialists, that group which I had felt I had proudly belonged to for decades? Quit lecturing with such an attitude of cultural colonialism and start listening to those who are actually the directly interested party. Answer them at least once when they ask  what alternative you would have offered when it was clear that their people were being violently crushed. Realise they are not interested in anything but their own freedom, and that includes freedom from you and your ideology and platitudes that contain nothing concrete for them to use towards obtainment of their freedom. If the anti-imperialists can’t understand that, then Khalas, because shutting up is golden.

freedom fighters in BenghaziThe author of the article I post below, Robert Grenier, rightly asked: “Where are the Arabs?” but in our opinion, we Arab Nationalists, also believe that he had also rightly volunteered to reply to his own question which is in his own words:

“…the primary motivating principles of the rebels have been clear: A desire for personal liberty, dignity and collective social empowerment.” 

Once an Egyptian Arab intellectual lady, Huda Hanum Shaarawi, replied after the 1948 Palestinian Arab Nakbah to the question: “How is it possible that seven Arab states and their armies were defeated by one state “Israel”? Her reply was simple and clear: “Because they were seven states with seven armies and seven ‘leaderships’ each quarrelling with the rest, while the enemy was one with one leadership, one army for one state.”, which the author has described below:

Robert Grenier was the CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002. He was also the director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism centre.” As a high CIA officer he should have known why did the British  Mr. Sykes and the French M. Picot come together to plan to divide the east Mediterranean Arab territories even before the defeat and  expulsion of the Ottoman Turks from it. They met and agreed to conclude on what is known as “The Sykes Picot Agreement”, that is, to  apply the principle of “divide and rule”, of course to create small weak Arab states that cannot defend themselves in the face of the colonialist powers and their colonialist ambitions, who were at the time in the first place Great Britain and France.

And lately why the old Zionist fox Shimon Peres to be joined at a later time by Condoleezza Rice, U.S Secretary of State under George W. Bush, further try to divide the present Arab states into a smaller states based on religious and ethnic minorities, which Zionists and other colonialist powers shall try to create between them feuds and enmities so as to resort to these colonialist powers for protection against their other Arab brothers… then Zionists and other colonialists shall be able to control them all, but fortunately enough what is known as the New Middle East colonialist conspiracy did not see the light, and with the domino theory of Arab revolutions presently taking place shall never be realized, and hopefully an Arab unity shall instead be realized to counteract these Zionist and western colonialist conspiracies.

Now the aim of young Arab revolutionaries is to get rid of these rulers who want to keep their control on what they consider as their subjects in collaboration with their colonialist protectors, but the young Arab citizens who want to be no more subjects of their corrupt ruers, but real citizens and be able to decide their own fate are struggling to overthrow all these rotten, corrupt and isolationist rulers. That is why those particular rulers shall not volunteer to come to give assistance to Libyan Arabs or any revolutionary Arabs citizens revolting against their rotten rulers… because as we said and saw that by the domino theory, revolutions shall pass from one Arab state to another. They, Arab rulers, want to keep their chairs under the seat of their pants and keep on riding on the backs of what they consider their obedient subjects. The young revolutionaries want their freedom and liberty from their internal and external rulers.

In a big and rich Arab state, an official and a member of the ruling family commented on the simple and rightful demands of their young citizens whom they consider “subjects” who gathered peacefully. As is the case with all Arab rulers, the official said after denying that there were gatherings and demands: “The cooperation of citizens with security men to confront those who call for anarchy was a good proof and spontaneous response against those calling for evil in a peaceful country.” He added that, “driving people to overstep matters to what doesn’t achieve demands or reform, calls for dialogue,and that is exactly what those in command in the state call for”!!!!

Another highly posted official said: “Some of those calling for evil gathered in front of the ministry of internal affairs,” he claimed that, “they want to make of the state a place of chaos, they are organizing purposeless demonstrations that have no high aims, but they proved that they don’t know the people of their state”!!!

From Libya, correspondent Ogharit Dandaash wrote the story of the engineer Almahdi Zeo:

“Before February 14th there was not a single exceptional matter or incident that makes it to informational mass media, nor was there a political stance, be it pro or con, regarding the regime that was in the activities of this Benghazi engineer who was in his forties. Engineer Almahdi Zeo was living a quiet life in Benghazi, his financial status was as described by those who knew him well as “better than good (kwaiseh)”. Zeo was the head of a family, and the father of two daughters studying at university, who never heard or noticed him fidgeting when Gaddafi and his men ruling from their stronghold of terror in Benghazi were mentioned.

On February 15th 2011 the young people of Benghazi didn’t expect the official birth for the February 17th revolution, to mount the winds of change that blew from their neighborhood. They demonstrated and were confronted from the Benghazi battalion of terror with fire in front of the court house… many of the revolutionary fell down martyrs…

While the young revolutionaries were marching in the funeral of their martyred comrades, Zeo was passing an ordinary day during his monotonous life. He passed in front of the headquarters of the battalion on his way to practice his ordinary daily routine work, it was inevitable that some incident should happen to attract his attention. Young people returning from the funeral of their beloved comrades, were, without notice, confronted with live fire, the source of which was from the battalion of Al-Fadel Omar, the headquarters of the soldiers of the regime, where any activists with political opposition to the regime, or with any ideas that contradict those of the Gaddafi Green holy Book. Zeo stopped to see the young people confronting the heavily armed soldiers with their naked chests, He returned home to tell his two daughters about 18 years olds fighting without help.

The following morning he returned to practice his ordinary work, believing that the zeal of the young couldn’t but be aborted with the regime’s brutality, but just in front of the same battalion tens of young people returned for another sit down with other supporters… Zeo realized after a long life of submission and looking aside shall not end with the feeling at ease required by other human beings, those youngsters realized, before it was too late, that there is a difference between living as ordinary human beings and a life full with a humanitarian meaning.

That night he hugged his beloved ones like he had never done before, he talked to them about small heroic incidents that history books didn’t mention, and about which no poems were written, but they leave their effect in people’s souls that had submitted to accepting life at ease, and as an ordinary matter… and left his house.

The place is the headquarters of the Benghazi battalion, date before the new Libyan history, attendants, the young persons seated on the ground, the occasion: drawing a new road map for the revolution.

The engineer said: “Success depends on the element of surprise: Clearly, we need to act quickly.

One of youth there understood: the moment the road opens, we attack.

Another youth pointed out to another group of young people, the brothers coming here are from Baida, they came to help us.

The engineer said, “I am going ahead”.

The engineer mounts his car that was loaded with gas containers for home use, and drives towards the wall of the two storey building housing the battalion’s headquarters, which is impossible to enter to or to break into. He steps on the accelerator to maximum speed, hits the wall, the car explodes, the wall crumbles creating an opening, the youngsters rush into the headquarters.

The element of surprise dispersed the soldiers who ran away, the revolutionaries took control and they obtained their first quantity of arms, they took control of the helm of the battle and thus the battle turned in their favor. After some confrontations, the Abu Al-Fadel Omar battalion fell and its leader fled to Tripoli along with Assaadi Al-Gaddafi (One of Muamar Gaddafi’s sons) who took refuge at the battalion’s headquarters after the outbreak of revolution. Then the weapons and ammunitions stores are now in the service of the revolution born on February 17th.

The fall of the battalion contributed to the liberation of Benghazi, and the revolutionaries gave credit in that to Engineer Almahdi Zeo for the morale and military help he gave to them, and encouraging many officers and soldiers to defect from Gaddafi’s forces and join the revolutionaries, and opening the door wide open for victories, which made the east of Libya fall from the hands of Gaddafi into the hands of the revolution within four days.

Martyr Al-Mahdi Zeo did not live to reap the fruits of the trees he planted, but those Libyan young men and women who had never heard of Engineer Zeo know now that the engineer of the realized revolution shall be the name who they shall tell to their children and grandchildren when their hair shall turn grey about a revolution executed by dreamers who didn’t wait enjoy its fruits.

So we should not expect from these decaying, rotten and dictatorial regimes to step in to help other revolutions against their equally decaying, rotten and dictatorial Arab regimes… they are equally bad and should be overthrown by young Arab revolutionaries.

“Where are the Arabs?” The other Arabs, are the young revolutionary Arabs, who are each cleaning the dirt the old Arab dictatorial and rotten Arab regimes left over by colonialism behind. Good things are coming with Arab liberty and unity. 

So we cannot but agree with Robert Grenier saying: A new day is dawning in the Arab world. The revolutions underway have only just begun, and there is much to be sorted out in the countries where the democratic wave has taken hold. The response of other regional regimes, under less acute and immediate pressure, but still grappling with the challenge of socio-political changes now set perhaps inexorably in motion, remains very much to be seen. For all that its common outlook is rapidly evolving, the Arab world has a long way to go in coming to a firm consensus about what forms of rule will meet its minimum standards of acceptability.”

 ORIGINAL PIECE

Opinion
‘Where are the Arabs?’ By: Robert Grenier 

If Arab states are serious about ending Gaddafi’s menace to his people, they must take the lead in helping the rebels.

Robert Grenier Last Modified: 13 Mar 2011 08:35 GMT
If Arab states do not act now, when the last Libyan rebel lies bleeding in the desert, his final words
may well be: ‘Where are the Arabs?’

It was August of 1982. For seven weeks, Beirut had been sealed off, under attack by Israel from land, sea and air. Water and electricity supplies were cut. The Israelis had secured the airport and much of the southern suburbs. The Syrians had been defeated, their air force wiped from the Lebanese skies. Chairman Arafat and the PLO were seemingly at the mercy of their enemies, utterly dependent upon the international community to arrange an evacuation of their fighters which would bring an end to the carnage. Isolated and alone, all the leader of the Palestinian movement could do was look into the cameras and plead: “Where are the Arabs?”

In January of 1991, a nominally extensive international coalition of armed forces, led by the US but including many of the Arab countries, stood poised in northern Saudi Arabia to drive Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. It might have seemed that much of the Arab world was unified, and had engaged the United States and the international community in their cause to liberate a brutally occupied Arab country.

But in many of the Arab capitals, and to a seeming majority in the Arab street, the armies massed in the Saudi desert were anything but a sign of Arab strength and unity. For in point of fact, the Arab countries had had comparatively little to do with organizing this un-authorized, largely Western coalition. Many Arab nationalists from across the region asserted strenuously that the Arabs should not rely upon the Americans to sort out their difficulties, arguing in favor of an “Arab solution” to the crisis. In fact, however, this was mere posturing: An Arab solution to the crisis would have amounted to meek acquiescence in Saddam Hussein’s intra-Arab aggression. Those Arab countries most threatened by Saddam were not about to entrust their fate to regional Arab councils. They did not wish one day to be left, alone, to make the entreaty: “Where are the Arabs?”

Today, in the deserts along the coast of Libya, patriots are fighting to liberate themselves and their country from over 40 years of brutal, arbitrary misrule. Although tribal and other social divisions are no doubt playing a role in determining the fault lines of the civil war progressively settling over Libya, the primary motivating principles of the rebels have been clear: A desire for personal liberty, dignity and collective social empowerment. In this they have been transparently inspired by the courage of their brothers and sisters in Tunisia, in Egypt, and in many other parts of the Arab world. But as they attempt to withstand the onslaught of Muammar Gaddafi’s better-armed loyalists, and as those rebels most hard-pressed repeatedly plead for at least limited outside assistance, well they might ask: “Where are the Arabs?”

Passivity and diffidence

A new day is dawning in the Arab world. The revolutions underway have only just begun, and there is much to be sorted out in the countries where the democratic wave has taken hold. The response of other regional regimes, under less acute and immediate pressure, but still grappling with the challenge of socio-political changes now set perhaps inexorably in motion, remains very much to be seen. For all that its common outlook is rapidly evolving, the Arab world has a long way to go in coming to a firm consensus about what forms of rule will meet its minimum standards of acceptability.

Nonetheless, the latest indications of Arab intent in the context of Libya are positive, if as yet insufficient. A clear message has been sent by both the GCC and the Arab League that Gaddafi’s brutality toward his people is not acceptable, and has effectively delegitimised his government. The Arab nations have taken a clear stand in favour of a UN Security Council-imposed no-fly zone, and for urgent outreach to the National Transitional Council in Benghazi.

So far, perhaps, so good. Still, troubling signs of traditional passivity and diffidence remain. The Arabs are deferring action to the international community without suggestions as to how that action should be implemented, and with no firm commitment for their own direct involvement. The Arab League ministers aver that a no-fly zone should only be for the purpose of protecting Libyan civilians, and should end as quickly as possible. They continue to express concern over foreign intervention, while requesting precisely that. Their ambivalence is palpable.

At the same time, evidence is mounting that the international fixation on a no-fly zone may be a distraction from more urgently-needed action, and may in fact be counter-productive. First of all, it is not at all clear how great a threat is posed by Gaddafi’s air strikes, per se. While the military situation remains confused, it seems more likely that Gaddafi’s armour and artillery pose the more lethal danger to both rebel and civilian targets.

Moreover, imposition of a no-fly zone would be no simple task. Security Council agreement is far from assured: The Council is divided, and the Chinese, in particular, will do what they can to avoid approving international interference in internal Libyan affairs, out of fear of the negative precedent it might set for themselves. While others might well participate, the US, clearly, would have to take the lead. (As far we Arabs are concerned, we have no trust with the United States and other western powers, their policies are equally colonialist, and we suffered enough on their hands and their rogue adopted and nursed our Zionist entity- A.S.K.)

Following its doctrine, the US would need to attack Libyan air defences first; the potential for significant collateral damage is considerable. The Americans would also require a helicopter-borne “combat search and rescue (CSAR)” capability to be in place for downed pilots before they would willingly act. And there are not nearly enough aircraft in theatre, yet, for an effective no-fly effort. Finally, it may simply be too much to suppose that the Americans, already engaged militarily in two Muslim countries, should now intervene in a third, when the risk to their already weak regional standing from those who may advocate international action now, but will no doubt quickly criticise any missteps, is so great.

Taking the lead
If the Arab League is serious about ending Gaddafi’s menace to his people, they should focus on providing the National Transitional Council with the means to defeat him and his loyalist forces. The US, the EU and NATO have all made clear that they will only act with a clear legal mandate and with regional support. Therefore, it is up to the Arab nations to take the initiative.

It is very likely that the softness in the Arab League stance is a reflection of the divisions between those members on either side of the “democratic revolutionary” divide. Hobbled by the need for consensus, the League as a whole has gone about as far as it is capable; it is unlikely to take the tough decisions and hard actions necessary to counter Gaddafi’s resurgence. Those whose commitment to support of the rebellion is notably strong – Egypt and the GCC countries in particular – must be prepared to take the lead from here.

First, they should move quickly to recognise the Council in Benghazi as the legitimate government of Libya, and immediately request modification of the current UN arms embargo to exclude its forces. Meanwhile, a rapid assessment of the rebels’ military requirements is needed; these would likely include ammunition, anti-armour weapons, and perhaps rockets or artillery. It is clearly within the capabilities of at least some of the Arab countries to provide these rapidly by air, most likely with logistical assistance from the US or NATO. In this context, it would become far easier, and more palatable, for the US and NATO to provide overhead intelligence, perhaps off-shore jamming of Libyan military communications, and other forms of assistance to the transitional government.

We can begin to imagine that such an Arab-led initiative on behalf of the Libyans could help to build a new, cooperative relationship with America and the West – one which flows from Arab empowerment and collective resolve, and not, as in the past, from Arab weakness.

The time has come, in short, for the Arab regimes to demonstrate regionally and internationally the will and courage to act demonstrated by many of their own citizens domestically. Otherwise, they run the risk, in what is supposed to be a transforming Middle East, that when the last Libyan rebel lies bleeding in the desert, the boot of a pro-Gaddafi thug upon his neck, his last gasp will be: “Where are the Arabs?”

Robert Grenier was the CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002. He was also the director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism centre.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.Source:

Al Jazeera

Source: La Repubblica http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2009/01/20/la-barbarie-strategica.html

 

Translated from Italian by Diego Traversa and revised by Mary Rizzo, members of Tlaxcala www.tlaxcala.es