The most prominent nations in the western alliance have found themselves in a deep crisis of reflection. The biggest problem has been “what to do about the current unrest that is sweeping North Africa and the Middle East?”
A superficial examination would seem to suggest that Libya is their most pressing problem. In our opinion, Libya is not. The sixty-four thousand dollar question is about the future of the whole region. What sort of governments will eventually emerge after the dust of dissent and revolution has settled? Will they be Islamic fundamentalists or theocracies that are hostile to the West and to Israel?
The United States cannot afford to allow this to happen. NATO is making strange noises that seem ambiguous and is seeking an avenue in which or by which to claim legitimacy for subtle, but firm intervention. These upheavals are in the process of re-drawing the social and political maps of the entire area. And, given the track record of the United Nations in its response to the crisis in Rwanda, what is the proper course of action to adopt?
An immediate response to the looming humanitarian crisis is vital, but the West runs the risk of being labelled as neo-colonialists who are seeking a regime change, in order to grab Libyan oil. Libya has been swallowed up in an internal, civil conflagration that has already assumed the proportions of a civil war. Can other nations dare to intervene? Perhaps intervention can be achieved if another Arab nation or nations decide to jump aboard the NATO bandwagon. This is however, pure speculation.
The Security Council would seem to be the major hurdle that has to be crossed. Both Russia and China will recall that it was the deliberate absence of the delegate of the Soviet Union whose veto would have prevented the Korean War that made the collective action of the United Nations possible.
Russia has already indicated its displeasure at seeking to interfere in the Libyan conflict. The problems in and with Chechnya have already been seen in the various attempts that have been made to disrupt the normal flow of life in Moscow. China has experienced its own Tiananmen Square and its response has been to respond harshly and with military might, to such a type of dissent. Is the reflection in their rear-view mirrors a familiar one?
May we venture to suggest that the makers of foreign policy in the United States are in a quandary? Disagreement has already surfaced in the Obama administration, for a high-ranking member of their foreign service surveillance department has publicly declared that Colonel Gaddafi’s forces seem to have a superior advantage and seem set to win a one-sided battle.
President Obama knows this, and we know that this official will be quietly shunted out of the way, and replaced by a more pliant, less publicity-prone employee, who will fit into the administration’s quiescent role of undermining the government of Libya, in order to effect a regime change.
President Sarcozy of France has already announced that his government has recognised the interim government that has been set up by the rebels in Benghazi. It now remains to be seen whether other nations will follow suit and lend an aura of legitimacy and respectability to the forces of rebellion who control an area that contains less than one-third of Libya’s population, but thousands of square miles of desert sand.
While these diplomatic manoeuvres are taking place outside of Libya’s borders, within Libya, the government has been ruthlessly putting down the rebellion and relentlessly capturing and retaking areas that had been in the hands of the rebels. France is taking a big risk in recognising the rebels in Libya, for they do not control enough people, territory or arms to warrant recognition.
Saudi Arabia has been taking a leaf from Libya’s book, in that all attempts at rebellion and demonstration have been nipped in the bud and those who have persisted in attempting to demonstrate in the streets have been tear-gassed and shot at. Three people have died from bullet wounds. We suspect that the Saudi government is determined to use a very heavy military fist in stamping out the rebellion. The big question now is, “What will the United States say and do in response to their close ally, Saudi Arabia’s heavy handed reaction against its own citizens?” The embarrassment is obvious.
Meanwhile, Libya continues to escalate its response to the attempt by the popular uprising to overthrow the rule of Colonel Gaddafi. His son has again warned that there will be a heavy, sustained reply to the threat by the rebels. There will be no retreat and no surrender.
The government of his father will fight to the last man and woman and until every drop of blood has been shed to beat back the advances of the rebellion. There will be neither negotiation nor compromise.
The Libyan response with the flexing of military muscle has been seen by the surviving, un-toppled governments to appear to have been successful. Could a military, heavy hand be the answer? What will be the humanitarian cost in attempting to put down these popular uprisings?