Stop Nato Updates on Libyan war: 9 April 2011

9 April 2011 — Stop NATO

  • NATO, Recolonization Of Africa, BRICS And Silent Lambs
  • Post-Cold War NATO Expansion: No Neutrals Left In Europe
  • U.S. Considers Sending Ground Troops To Libya
  • Libya, AFRICOM And The U.S. Scramble For Africa
  • After Libya And Ivory Coast, Obama Condemns Syria
  • Western Nations Must Abandon Illusion Of World Domination
  • Libyan War In Fourth Week: West Tries To Avoid Quagmire

NATO, Recolonization Of Africa, BRICS And Silent Lambs

pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=85299

Pakistan Observer

April 9, 2011

The silence of the lambs

Geopolitical notes from India

M D Nalapat*

-There seems to be some unique chemistry in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – and these days in the UN – that make those who work in these institutions pliant instruments for the fulfillment of NATO objectives.

-Under Ban Ki-Moon, the UN has evolved into an agency that has legitimized intervention by the former colonial powers in countries that are these days legally independent.

The BBC and CNN – not to mention Al Jazeera, which seems to toe the NATO line even more faithfully than these two channels – talk with approval about the intervention of the “former colonial power Italy”, just as they approve the muscular French intervention in the Ivory Coast.

-What would Secretary General Ban’s reaction be if Japan were to declare a special interest in Korea as the “former colonial power”?

After all, he has facilitated such an usurpation of authority by European colonial powers in both Asia as well as Africa. Were it practicable, there is little doubt that South America would be next, with NATO intervening against Hugo Chavez.

-NATO powers…seek another way out, which is to squeeze countries in Asia, Africa and South America into providing the surpluses needed for the NATO powers to continue on their unaffordable way for longer.

-The NATO attack on Libya sends a clear message to the entire Arab world: If you do not continue to park your funds with us, look at the fate that will befall you.

-Unless the Five Lambs who will in days be meeting in China for the BRICS summit somehow get enough courage to challenge NATO by demanding a fresh meeting of the UN Security Council that can halt the bombing and destruction caused by “former colonial powers”. Looking at present=day events, the word “former” needs to be removed from that sentence.

China, India, Russia and Brazil — now joined by South Africa — are fast-growing economies that have recently taken up a lot of newspaper space for the speed with which they have been developing.

However, the fact remains that they are as yet marginal players on the world stage, which is still dominated by the former colonial powers of Europe and their ally, the US.

The latest proof of this has been the extraordinary silence of Beijing, Delhi, Moscow, Brasilia and Pretoria on events in Libya. After an initial show of disapproval once it became clear that UN Security Council Resolution 1973 was being used by NATO as an excuse for bombing Libya into submission, the five countries have watched the daily air raids on infrastructure and other assets largely in silence.

Clearly, they are nervous at the possibility that they would annoy the NATO powers by coming out more forcefully against what in effect is a war of that military alliance against Colonel Kadhafi and his regime. Is it that countries that were regarded as tigers are in reality only lambs?

What lies behind the NATO attack on Libya? It is definitely not democracy, for if it were there are far bigger states in the region that are far from democratic.

As for implementing the UN resolution, that has been left far behind by the scale and scope of NATO attacks, now being waged even on oilfields, according to the Libyan regime.

The excuse of democracy has often been used by NATO powers as camouflage for their actual aims. However, if we take as an example the case of Hong Kong, the British colonial administration discovered the virtues of democracy only after it became clear that China would not allow the British to get a fresh lease of rulership over Hong Kong, and that they would have to pull out by 1997.

The reality is that the so-called “post-colonial” world has been characterised by an alliance between local elites in several countries and the former colonial powers.

In Africa, for example, we have the example of France, which seeks to perpetuate its status as the country favoured in commercial deals. In the Ivory Coast, defeated president Gbagbo sought to ensure that other options for his country get explored rather than the claustrophobic embrace of French entities.

This made him the target of Nicolas Sarkozy, who is hopeful that Alassane Ouattara will be as pliant a French puppet as pre-Gbagbo leaders were in the Ivory Coast.

There seems to be some unique chemistry in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – and these days in the UN – that make those who work in these institutions pliant instruments for the fulfillment of NATO objectives. In both India and Pakistan, those with such an “international” background have almost always sought to ensure that the concessions demanded by the NATO economies be granted.

Under Ban Ki-Moon, the UN has evolved into an agency that has legitimized intervention by the former colonial powers in countries that are these days legally independent.

The BBC and CNN – not to mention Al Jazeera, which seems to toe the NATO line even more faithfully than these two channels – talk with approval about the intervention of the “former colonial power Italy”, just as they approve the muscular French intervention in the Ivory Coast.

After all, France is the “former colonial power”.

While this relapse into the syntax of the past goes on, India, China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa watch by the sidelines, although the toxic nature of such a shift in international practice is damaging to all five.

What would Secretary General Ban’s reaction be if Japan were to declare a special interest in Korea as the “former colonial power”?

After all, he has facilitated such an usurpation of authority by European colonial powers in both Asia as well as Africa. Were it practicable, there is little doubt that South America would be next, with NATO intervening against Hugo Chavez.

Why these spasms of activity by NATO? The reason is not political but economic. Financial speculation and the uncontrolled greed visible since the era of Reagan-Thatcher has pushed the NATO economies to the edge of collapse.

Now that Portugal has fallen, the next will be Italy and Spain. To avoid such a fate, all kinds of optimistic views are getting aired in the media.

However, those in the know accept that it is only a question of time before Spain and Italy fall the way Portugal and before that Ireland have.

The best way out would be for such countries to accept that they are living beyond there means, and to drastically cut back on social services and other benefits. However, this is politically unacceptable to the NATO powers, so they seek another way out, which is to squeeze countries in Asia, Africa and South America into providing the surpluses needed for the NATO powers to continue on their unaffordable way for longer.

Libya is a lesson for the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]. That entity has had its people and its treasuries lose more than $1.3 trillion in the 2008 financial crash.

As a result of such criminal misconduct on the part of a handful of financial institutions based in Zurich, New York, London, Chicago and Frankfurt, millions of investors in Asia, Africa and South America have lost heavily.

Within the Arab world, there is a growing realization that funds parked in such traditional entities are unsafe, and that options (such as India and China) need to be explored.

This, indeed, was what Colonel Kadhafi was seeking to do before the bombing started. The NATO attack on Libya sends a clear message to the entire Arab world: If you do not continue to park your funds with us, look at the fate that will befall you.

Of course, parking such funds means the risk of losing them once again, given that the criminal practices of the financial institutions that were legalised after the Reagan-Thatcher Age of Greed began are continuing.

Barack Obama has not had the courage or the will to bring to account those that almost ruined the economy of his country, with the result that they and their friends in Europe are once again placing the international economy at risk by speculation.

Rather than rein in such criminal activities, the NATO powers are instead seeking to gain economic concessions at the point of a gun.

It is no secret that commercial interests in France have been angered by a slowdown since 2008 of Libyan purchases. Those in the Kadhafi government say that the reason for this has been the need to set aside higher budgetary resources for social expenditure such as on food and healthcare.

They say that such an increase in money spent on the Libyan population was needed to prevent widespread social unrest, which even after the boosts in public spending rose substantially during the past year. However, even while he sought to damp down unrest in Libya, Colonel Kadhafi angered French and other NATO commercial interests by slowing down his purchases from them.

That President Sarkozy is locked into a willing embrace with some elements of French business is well known. He even left his charming, accomplished and socially-aware wife of many years to marry a glamorous lady who is well known for her closeness to business interests. Clearly, he has been persuaded by them to punish Kadhafi for cutting back on business deals with French companies.

It is a source of wonder to the many admirers of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as to why the UN chief is unaware of the crass commercial motivations behind the NATO strikes, and the danger in his opening the Pandora’s Box of intervention by NATO powers in their former colonies.

The fact is that this strategy – of enhancing commerce at the point of a gun the way it used to occur during the period of frank colonialism – will fail. Libya will descend into chaos, and oil production will be the casualty. Rather than get billions of dollars from their favorites in eastern Libya, the NATO powers will be forced to fund them at a time of economic hardship.

Unless the Five Lambs who will in days be meeting in China for the BRICS summit somehow get enough courage to challenge NATO by demanding a fresh meeting of the UN Security Council that can halt the bombing and destruction caused by “former colonial powers”. Looking at present=day events, the word “former” needs to be removed from that sentence.

*The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.

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Post-Cold War NATO Expansion: No Neutrals Left In Europe

www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ggHYpm83zWx3206EtybbMsfSNoWg?docId=5104a08066ef4ae0b7e18c23fc4c5713

Associated Press

April 9, 2011

Cold War neutrals now taking sides, timidly

-Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, all five have moved closer to what used to be one of the rivaling blocs during the Cold War: NATO.

-After the Soviet collapse, Finland and Sweden quietly abandoned their policy of neutrality, essentially by not using the word anymore. Instead they talked about “nonalignment” — remaining outside military alliances but not ruling out taking sides in a conflict.

Lately, they’ve stopped using that label, too.

“We don’t call ourselves nonaligned, we never call ourselves neutral either,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told The Associated Press during a visit to Helsinki on Tuesday.

-[A]ll except Switzerland are so closely linked to the alliance, through joint military exercises and international missions, that analysts say very little separates them from being actual NATO members.

-”Basically we are taking on all duties of member countries except we’re not paying membership fees.”

STOCKHOLM: Swedish fighter jets are roaring into action over Libya under NATO command. Ireland is offering itself as a transit hub for U.S. military deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Even famously independent Switzerland has peacekeepers in Kosovo.

For Europe’s once-staunchly neutral countries, much has changed in the two decades since the Cold War ended. With no East-West conflict as a reference point, the concept of neutrality has been redefined to the point that some would say it’s lost its meaning.

“There’s total confusion. People have forgotten the concept of neutrality, which means don’t take sides in a military conflict,” said Swiss peace researcher Daniele Ganser.

Switzerland is considered the only truly neutral nation left in Europe. But it, too, has compromised its goal of staying out of other nations’ troubles.

Switzerland finally joined the United Nations in 2002 and since 1999 has about 200 peacekeepers in Kosovo. It recently allowed allied forces to drive through and fly over Switzerland on their way to missions in Libya. The government said Swiss neutrality was intact because the Libya operation was authorized by the U.N. Security Council.

“To my mind that is not compatible with complete neutrality,” Ganser said.

Sweden and Switzerland became neutral at the end of the Napoleonic wars. Ireland stayed out of World War II and shut its ports to Allied convoys. Austria and Finland turned to neutrality after taking the German side in that war.

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, all five have moved closer to what used to be one of the rivaling blocs during the Cold War: NATO. All have joined its Partnership for Peace program for nonmembers and have sent troops to serve in NATO-led missions in the Balkans or Afghanistan.

Sweden reinforced its bonds to the alliance by sending eight fighter jets to the NATO-led air campaign in Libya, the only country in the former neutral group to do so…

Not that neutrality was always absolute.

Sweden allowed German troops to pass through its territory during World War II. Ireland permitted British and American servicemen who strayed on to Irish soil to be repatriated to the British territory of Northern Ireland. German crews from crashed Luftwaffe aircraft and sunken U-boats faced internment in Ireland without trial.

After the Soviet collapse, Finland and Sweden quietly abandoned their policy of neutrality, essentially by not using the word anymore. Instead they talked about “nonalignment” — remaining outside military alliances but not ruling out taking sides in a conflict.

Lately, they’ve stopped using that label, too.

“We don’t call ourselves nonaligned, we never call ourselves neutral either,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told The Associated Press during a visit to Helsinki on Tuesday.

According to Bildt, those labels don’t make sense after Sweden joined the European Union in 1995 — together with Finland and Austria.

The EU has deepened cooperation on security and defense matters since then. The EU treaty calls for all member states to help out if one of them comes under attack, while recognizing the “specific character” of members with a tradition of neutrality.

How, then, should countries previously known as nonaligned be defined?

Bildt’s Finnish counterpart, Alexander Stubb, offered a suggestion.

“We are not a neutral country, have not been so for the past 20 years. And we are not a militarily nonaligned country but we are a country which does not belong to a military alliance,” Stubb told AP. “I think there is a misunderstanding in some countries we’ve been trying to rectify for a long time.”

Austria has stuck to the neutrality label even though it also is an EU member and cooperates closely with NATO. Unlike Sweden and Finland, Austria’s neutrality is established by law.

Ireland also describes itself as neutral, even though it has allowed the United States to use Shannon airport for deployments back and forth to Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 100,000 U.S. troops annually have passed through Shannon since 2001. The Irish Army had to deploy troops around the airport’s perimeter in 2003 after pro-neutrality protesters attacked a U.S. Navy plane with a meat cleaver.

Public opinion remains firmly against joining NATO in all five countries…

But all except Switzerland are so closely linked to the alliance, through joint military exercises and international missions, that analysts say very little separates them from being actual NATO members.

“Nothing in substance,” said Austrian security analyst Gerhard Karner. “Basically we are taking on all duties of member countries except we’re not paying membership fees.”

Associated Press writers Matti Huuhtanen in Helsinki, Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin, John Heilprin in Geneva and George Jahn in Vienna contributed to this report.

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U.S. Considers Sending Ground Troops To Libya

www.b92.net/eng/news/world-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=04&dd=08&nav_id=73698

FoNet/Beta News Agency/Tanjug News Agency

April 9, 2011

U.S. considers sending ground troops to Libya

WASHINGTON, BRUSSELS, BENGHAZI: The U.S. may consider sending troops into Libya to aid rebel forces, U.S. Army General Carter Ham has stated.

Ham, who was the first commander of air strikes against Libya, has assessed that the international operation is largely stalemated now.

He pointed out that it “was clear” that it would happen “when the U.S. handed over control of the operation in Libya to NATO”.

NATO has denied that the Libyan conflict has stalemated, describing battles between the rebel forces and troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as “fluid”.

NATO operation in Libya Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Russell Harding has stated that enemy forces have been “moving back and forth” along the highway between the towns of Brega and Ajdabiya in the last 48 hours.

NATO has announced today that the alliance’s planes had targeted rebels using tanks. Harding said that NATO did not have the information that the rebel forces had been using the tanks.

At least four rebels died in the attack, but Harding said that NATO would not apologize for the deaths.

Rebel Commander General Abdel-Fattah Younis said that four people, two fighters and two medics, had been killed, that 14 had been wounded and six had gone missing in the attack near Brega.

He said that it had been a friendly fire and that “NATO made a mistake”, adding that the rebels had informed NATO that their T55 and T72 tanks were headed toward Brega.

“We suffered a setback yesterday,” Younis said and pointed out that the rebel forces had 400 tanks that they would get more.

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Libya, AFRICOM And The U.S. Scramble For Africa

blackstarnews.com/news/135/ARTICLE/7258/2011-04-08.html

Black Star News

April 8, 2011

Libya, AFRICOM, And US Scramble For Africa

By Colin Benjamin

As Western war mongering in Libya continues, there’s another dimension to the conflict to consider: what role does the existence of the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) have to do with America’s participation in this invasion?

Ever since the West launched military intervention in Libya, some scholars have said the powers were engaging in imperial interference to secure resources on the African continent. Professor Horace Campbell and Professor Molefi Asante are two who’ve said this isn’t just about Libyan oil but is about African oil interests and resources throughout the continent.

Professor Asante, who teaches in the African-American Studies Department at Temple University, has called the war on Libya an attempt, by the West, at “re-inventing Cold War policies to enlarge and protect their economic interests on the continent.” He also warned, “The great danger of the attacks on Libya is that they are being used by the U.S. to test the effectiveness of AFRICOM, the Africa Command, and this adventure will open the door to direct military intervention in Africa.”

Professor Horace Campbell, who teaches in the African-American Studies Department at Syracuse University, declared: “The Western bombardment of Gaddafi’s forces in Libya has become an opportunistic public relations ploy for the United States Africa Command and a new inroad for US military stronghold on the continent.”

The United States Africa Command was created in 2007, although the concept was conceived much earlier, when President George W. Bush gave authorization for it, after being sold on the idea by then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld, apparently, pushed the ball forward, probably, at the behest of big business interests and forces in the intelligence community. The primary reason advanced for AFRICOM is “fighting terrorism,” but, the business of oil was a key factor in its creation.

Reportedly, a 2002 report, from the African Oil Policy Initiative Group (AOIPG,) was an important impetus in starting AFRICOM. The report highlighted the National Intelligence Council’s analysis that America would be buying up to 25 percent of its oil from Africa by 2015. There also seems to be concern about the improved relations between African countries and China.

China’s growing energy needs put them in direct competition with America for African resources, including oil. However, since AFRICOM’s creation no African nation, except for Liberia, has openly expressed a willingness to allow the Pentagon to set up a headquarters, for AFRICOM, on African soil. AFRICOM is currently headquartered at Kelley Barracks, in Stuttgart, Germany, from where an American general was coordinating the U.S.’s initial role in the invasion of Libya.

The exploitation of Africa, by Europeans, is nothing new. Since the “Scramble for Africa,” Europe has enriched itself, while impoverishing Africa by pillaging and plundering the continent’s natural resources. Are we about to see an American scramble for Africa’s oil and mineral wealth? Professor Asante and Professor Campbell’s assertion that the imperial intervention is a trial-run for AFRICOM, perhaps, explains why America seems to be contemplating arming the “rebels” in Benghazi. Both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Benghazi, through Qatar, is about to export 100 million barrels of Libya’s oil, which was in storage.

In my last column, I spoke of the 2007 Sinjar Records Report, done at West Point Military Academy by Colonel Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman. The report states that Benghazi and Darnah have the highest concentration of jihad fighters and suicide bombers, many of whom traveled to Iraq to fight against American soldiers. So why would the American government think of arming these “rebels”?

Unfortunately, the insane profiteering of oil companies has left us in a situation where politicians are willing to wage war to enrich these modern-day oil barons even if it means helping terrorists in Libya. Have we forgotten the chaos caused by Bush’s oil war in Iraq? Will this greed for oil lead to other upheavals in oil-rich African countries like: Angola, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan and São Tomé?

We’ve seen how violent some are when protecting big oil. In Nigeria, American oil companies Exxon-Mobil and Chevron have underwritten the brutality of the Nigerian government against the people of the Niger-Delta. In November 1995, author, artist and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged by then Nigerian President General Sani Abacha.

Saro-Wiwa, who was from the Ogoni region in the Niger-Delta, was targeted because he led a campaign against the exploitation and environmental degradation caused by these oil behemoths. Because of the oil riches of the Niger-Delta, the area has been militarized to disastrous consequences.

The Nigerian people’s fierce resistance to the oil companies portends what may happen in other African countries with untapped oil. Is this, perhaps, part of the calculation here by those in the American business community, who pushed for AFRICOM’s creation? Will AFRICOM be the instrument to crush all opposition against the oil giants?

The reasons the Obama White House has given for their involvement in Libya makes no sense. The American government doesn’t invade countries to “liberate” people out of the goodness of their hearts. Anytime America “helps” people there’s always a quid pro quo involved.

It seems as if Washington’s involvement here is to gain a foothold for AFRICOM in Africa, so, they can pursue the agenda of big oil. Africans must resist this scramble for African oil by foreign interlopers, for it will only lead to more exploitation and misery for Africans.

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After Libya And Ivory Coast, Obama Condemns Syria

www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/08/usa-syria-obama-idUSWNA582720110408

Reuters

April 8, 2011

Obama condemns “abhorrent violence” of Syrian govt

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama sternly rebuked Syria on Friday about violence there in which sources said 22 pro-democracy protesters died.

“I strongly condemn the abhorrent violence committed against peaceful protesters by the Syrian government today and over the past few weeks. I also condemn any use of violence by protesters,” the president said in a statement.

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www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jImIdx_j8vlLEb-hueZurieYhMFQ?docId=CNG.089cd5d5dc7c45baf62971692489ae8d.d61

Agence France-Presse

April 9, 2011

Obama condemns Syria violence

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Friday condemned an “abhorrent” crackdown in Syria which killed 24 demonstrators and any violence by protesters following reports of deaths among security forces.

“I strongly condemn the abhorrent violence committed against peaceful protesters by the Syrian government today and over the past few weeks,” Obama said in a written statement, the latest in a flurry of US rebukes of Damascus.

“I also condemn any use of violence by protesters.

“I call upon the Syrian authorities to refrain from any further violence against peaceful protesters.”

Obama also called for an end to arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of prisoners and said the Syrian authorities should allow independent verification of recent political unrest in the country.

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Western Nations Must Abandon Illusion Of World Domination

english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/98649/7338921.html

People’s Daily

April 2, 2011

Western countries should abandon illusion of world domination

The military attacks on Libya by multinational forces comprising British, French and American personnel have lasted more than 10 days [as of time article was written on April 2.] Reports show that following the development of the situation, the civilian casualties are increasing and the living conditions in the war zone have become unbearable.

The original intention of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 is to restrain violence and protect civilians. Given what has happened in Libya over recent days, people cannot help but raise questions on the intent of the military attacks launched by the multinational forces.

According to statistics by the United Nations, the war in Libya has forced at least 300,000 refugees to flee the country. The tide of Libyan refugees has not only put an unbearable burden on Libya’s neighboring countries but also severely overwhelmed international humanitarian actions.

In fact, despite the excuse of protecting the interests of the civilians, these Western countries are seeking to protect their own, including not only economic interests but also the established illusion of dominating the world held by some Western leaders. To them, the hegemony is more important than the U.N. Security Council resolutions and Libyan civilians. The illusion has prompted France, the United Kingdom and the United States to unscrupulously launch the war against Libya.

Following the multi-polarization of the world structure over recent years, many Western countries have seemingly become more mild and humble. They have sometimes been willing to listen to the opinions of developing countries, condescend to discuss global issues with developing countries and even urge developing countries to join them in handling world affairs.

Meanwhile, disputes and friction among Western countries appears to be increasing, leading some scholars to believe that the West is no longer an integrated entity, and generally speaking, the jargon of “the West” is not correct.

However, most Western countries took the same stand on the Libya issue and quickly agreed on military intervention without much discussion. The invisible bond linking them together is their common goal of maintaining Western dominance in international affairs. Western leaders still think they have the final say on all international affairs, despite the changing world pattern. Although there is a growing internal rift in the Western world, they will still hold together when they feel their dominant status is threatened.

Therefore, the future of Libya depends not only on how much longer Muammar Gaddafi will soldier on, but also on whether Western counties will change their old mindset.

It is dangerous to resort to violence in dealing with international affairs. History has proven that violence only makes things more complicated. Western countries are not unaware of the hidden risks, but as long as they hold fast to the old high-handed attitude towards the rest of the world, they will continue to just pay lip service to resolving disputes peacefully through talk.

It is still not too late to bring the Libya issue back to the agenda of the U.N. Security Council. If Western countries can fully respect the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Libya as well as the will of the international community, especially Arab countries, it will be possible for all parties involved to achieve a ceasefire so the violence may not escalate and a bigger humanitarian catastrophe may be avoided.

Certain Western countries have learned their lessons when trying to dominate the world in the past, and repeating the same old mistakes will not be good for the long-term interests of Western countries. They need to better adapt to a changing world. If they are too stubborn to change their outdated mindset, they will only hurt themselves while hurting others.

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Libyan War In Fourth Week: West Tries To Avoid Quagmire

english.ruvr.ru/2011/04/09/48695315.html

Voice of Russia

April 9, 2011

Libya war – a trap for the West

Maria Vesnovskaya

The past week of the coalition campaign in Libya has done nothing to tip the scales. NATO’s assistance had little effect, so experts say that the West may get stuck in Libya, even though it doesn’t want to.

NATO’s plan to fight a quick war in the name of democracy has failed. Colonel Gaddafi’s forces have managed to retain their positions and have carried out a number of successful operations. Fighting, or rather sporadic clashes between scattered rebel groups and well-organized army troops, is moving further eastward towards Benghazi, the main opposition stronghold. Lacking coordination, western forces accidentally struck at rebel positions near the city of Brega, killing at least 13 people. Opposition forces demanded explanation. In response, NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that rebel commanders should have warned the alliance about their movements.

The Western coalition is split on Libya. The United States has suspended its participation in the operation. French air forces are currently bearing the brunt of the campaign, with British forces expected to join in shortly. In the meantime, it looks like Europe is looking for other options to resolve the conflict as it became clear that Gaddafi is not leaving of his own accord. Sergei Demidenko, an expert from the Strategic Evaluation and Analysis Institute, comments.

The West is looking into the possibility of getting out of this unpleasant situation with minimum losses and maximum dignity, the expert says. But Gaddafi will never agree to resign and to remove him and his clan from power is unlikely to be an option. Here lies the rub. In addition, rebel forces are a problem too. They are heterogeneous, with Islamists ruling the roost. What direction opposition ranks will take in their further development is unclear.

Apparently, the Libyan opposition looks to the West for assistance, asking NATO to intensify strikes at Gaddafi forces and providing the rebels with weapons. Moscow opposes the move. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russia expects explanations to this effect from NATO.

The UN Security Council should gather regularly on Libya. Having approved Resolution 1973 and a mandate to that effect, it should meet on a regular basis so that countries which are using this mandate could report about its implementation. The UN special envoy for Libya, ex-Foreign Minister of Jordan Abdul Ilah Khatib, deals with the humanitarian and political aspects of the crisis and has already shared his impressions of Libya in the Security Council. It would be good to know about the position of the Arab League and the African Union on Libya.

In the meantime, Muammar Gaddafi is struggling to regain the diplomatic initiative. He has been making emotional public speeches against the West and has dispatched his envoys to Europe and a personal letter to the US leader. And even though he has received no reply, political bargaining has been set into motion. Neither Barack Obama, who plans to run for the second term, nor European leaders want another long war after Afghanistan and Iraq. No one wants a long-running conflict. Everyone seems to understand that now.

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