The peace-loving citizens of the world should regard it as their sacred duty to appeal to the governments of France, Britain, the United States of America and others who are involved in the aerial bombardment of Libya; the Muammar Gaddafi government; and the rebels fighting the Gaddafi government, to cease all military operations immediately. Some governments have already called for a total ceasefire, among them China, India, Iran, Russia and Turkey.
There are at least two compelling reasons why military operations should stop at once. One, in spite of denials from the US, British and other Western military commands, some alternative media are reporting mounting civilian casualties. The ‘No Fly Zone’ that these states are attempting to impose upon Libya is supposed to save lives but what is happening in reality is something else. Two, even if Western air power destroys not only Libya’s aerial defense but also Gaddafi’s entire military machine, there is no guarantee that he and his coterie would be ousted from power, considering that he still enjoys some support among his people. On the ground, he is stronger militarily than his opponents who are split into contending factions and are hopelessly disorganized. This could lead to a protracted civil war with dire consequences for the country and the region as a whole.
The cessation of military conflict would be one aspect of a much larger negotiated political settlement between Gaddafi and the rebels that must include his own departure and the exit of his family and cronies from the citadel of power in the shortest possible time. An interim government, a proper constitution and provision for a free and fair election would all be part of the deal.
Who can help mediate such a solution? The Turkish leadership has the credibility and the ability to play a pivotal role. The Chinese, Indian, German, Russian and Brazilian governments can also help to bring the Gaddafi government and the rebels to the negotiating table.
Given the likelihood of a stalemate on the military front, it is not inconceivable that Gaddafi and the rebels will agree to talk, especially if there is sufficient international pressure. However, can the Western allies also be persuaded to end their military assault immediately?
The chances are remote. Since their real objective is to establish control over Libya and its oil and gas through a pliable regime, they will continue their attack until there is some certainty that such a regime will emerge. In fact, they have already begun escalating their operations. According to a media report, the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle joined the assault on the 22nd of March while Belgian and Spanish war planes have begun air patrols over Libya, strengthening the American, British, French and Dutch squadrons. If the “No Fly Zone” does not achieve the allies’ goal, one should not rule out the injection of ground troops into the battlefield, though there is some hesitation among the allies about such a course of action at this moment.
Their dogged determination to pursue their objective convinces observers that the Libyan adventure parallels in some respects the US helmed war on behalf of Kuwait in 1991 and the Iraq war of 2003. In all three instances the desire to gain control over oil emerges as the common factor. In the case of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein’s foolish invasion of a weak neighbor, and, in the case of Iraq, his non-existent weapons of mass destruction helped the US and its allies to justify their nefarious agenda. Gaddafi’s despotic rule and his brutal suppression of his adversaries serve a similar purpose in the case of Libya. Exploiting the fatal flaws of a morally depraved leader to legitimize their own insatiable greed is a tactic often employed by hegemonic powers.
That it is their self-interest that dominates their political machinations in West Asia and North Africa becomes even more obvious in the stance that the US and its allies have adopted towards the crisis in Bahrain and Yemen. Though the Bahraini royal family has brutally suppressed the mass uprising of its largely Shia population with the help of soldiers and tanks from neighboring Saudi Arabia, US, British and French leaders have acquiesced with their move largely because the king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, is their loyal ally who hosts the US Fifth Fleet. Similarly, when another ally, the President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Salleh, who has been in power for 32 years, mobilized his security forces and his militia to massacre 52 peaceful protesters on 18th March 2011, all that President Obama could do was to make some innocuous noises about the inappropriateness of violent responses to people’s demands.
The champions of democracy in the West, it appears, have no qualms about endorsing the suppression of peaceful democratic movements for change as long as it serves their hegemonic economic and political interests. If some popular movement succeeds in toppling an oppressive dictator who was allied to the West— as it happened in Egypt and Tunisia— then either Washington or London or Paris will try to direct the flow of change in the post- uprising phase aided and abetted by those institutions and individuals in the country in question with whom it enjoys close ties. In this regard, elements in the top brass of the armed forces in Egypt and Tunisia, it is alleged, are working hand in glove with certain centers of power in the West to ensure that their mutual interests prevail at the end of the day.
Managing and manipulating the people’s desire for genuine change in this manner, or endorsing the suppression of popular movements, or exploiting a rebellion in order to seize a nation’s resources, only serve to undermine the Arab uprising of 2011. The Arab masses, and indeed people everywhere, should not allow this to happen. This is why we should all oppose the meddling of Western hegemonic powers in the momentous developments unfolding in North Africa and West Asia.
Urging Western powers to stop the military assault upon Libya while appealing to Gaddafi and the rebels to observe an immediate ceasefire, is a plea from the heart aimed at protecting the lives of people, and ensuring their independence and their dignity.
Malaysia, March 25th, 2011