The western forces & Qatar who have worked together to support a no-fly zone militarily and weapons embargo on Libya were put in place under a UN go ahead. The UN and its country-partners who voted in this legislation against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his forces loyal to him done so under the predicament of protecting the population of Libya. Resolution 1973 which primarily outlines the protection of civilians “demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians” and “authorises all necessary means to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas, except for a “foreign occupation force“.
But why Libya when other countries such as Bahrain, Yemen, Burma, Tibet, North Korea, Iran, Saudia Arabia, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast and possibly other countries; why are they not under the spot light as well?
Libya currently has a rebel force which looked strong enough to repel an attack from pro-Gadaffi forces. However Gadaffi came out with statements which suggested he would kill those who opposed him peacefully in Benghazi. He made threats as a leader of a country against his own people. He cut off electric, water and gas to cities which opposed his rule. We also saw in videos uploaded to YouTube¹ by citizens of Libya peacefully protesting being shot on the streets of Tripoli. It is these scenes which have likely backed any argument to support a no-fly zone over Libya.
Now coming to the question. It is whether it is possible to ensure you can enforce a no-fly zone. What factors into it as well is actual support in the country in-question for foreign forces to go in and attack. Libya has a rebel force who oppose Gaddafi, through media reports, they look strong. They have military equipment and weapons which they have captured from Gadaffi’s military force. If the Resolution 1973 is a success, it will be defined best by the world if a democracy can be created by the Libyan rebel forces, but with the help of western military forces and assets. Now the resolution is very clear, it doesn’t state anything about regime change, only the protection of civilians.
The problem which is upon us here is that this resolution should be enacted on other countries other than Libya, but it is not, where citizens are being persecuted and killed by governments. The questions remains why has it not been enacted in other countries. Seemingly it points to a word which has created prosperity in the middle-east and big companies around the world and that word is oil. It is an interest to the west since it protects the energy security around the world and especially so in the west. But if it isn’t about oil, what can it actually be about. Is it really about doing what is right morally? Or is it actually about what we can do in the current situation to prevent the loss of innocent life?
My opinion on it is that it is what we can do. But I just find it hard saying we would do the same if Libya didn’t have oil. I base this opinion on the last war in Iraq quite obviously seeing as Saddam was an oil-man dictatorship and that war was primarily based on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which were never found. But the fact that Saddam used chemical warfare on his own people, the Kurds in the 16 March 1988. Yet the west fell short to idle-by and not call the same no-fly zone or the UN Resolution 1973 against Iraq. – Which is a better example² than ever and a hell of a lot of a better example than Libya where military intervention would have been the right thing at that time.
Now the UN did come to a vote for Iraq in August 1988 on whether Iraq had indeed committed Human Rights violations, but it did not pass, with 11 out of 8 votes saying that Iraq had not committed Human Rights violations. So it is very hard when you come to the situation in Libya and to say that it was not for oil, when other countries are and have been committing violations against international law on a much higher severity when in comparison to Libya. North Korea is possibly the worst violator, however the west cannot attack them since they have friends such as China and the fact that North Korea have nuclear weapons and more than 10,000 artillery guns pointed towards South Korea’s capitol, Seoul, a good friend of the United States. So I can understand there are situations where involvements could turn out really ugly and Libya is not one of those situations.
I will give the UN credit and France, who were by the way, not involved in Iraq so that double standard does not exist with them. But it does exist with Britain and the United States, even if the US more or less tries to appear as if they don’t want to be involved. France intervened with the UN in the Ivory Coast, where we see today a dictatorship in the same fashion trying to control power by force with his military. Essentially it is what split and divided the country. But the French did the right thing to avert full out civil war. So in that typical sense I think that attacking Libya was the right thing to do. On standpoint that the French themselves have a good record on trying to keep out of matters which are said to be influenced by oil and they after all led the call for the resolution in Libya on a decent record. But that is no argument for military intervention itself.
So my main argument here is that if a country has the right conditions for intervention it seems the west and with the support of the international community, which would then pass a UN mandate would set the right conditions.
Otherwise if you start bombing a country where there is no rebel or opposition force which would be strong enough to fight back, you will just be purely fighting a losing battle which would get nowhere. At least with Libya and the Ivory Coast you can intervene since there is that option and the conditions are right to do it all round. Since you can base it on humanitarian effort, international support and if successful you have helped create a democracy if there is large enough opposition.