Moral complexities of Libyan intervention rising as Gaddafi prepares for “long war”

Forces loyal to Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi are in retreat from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi after two nights of sustained bombing by coalition forces.

Following the UN Security Council’s resolution authorising military intervention in Libya, France, the UK and the US have attacked targets across the country in an effort to dismantle Gaddafi’s abilility to contest a no fly zone, and prevent a retalitatory attack on Benghazi.

The first night after the collapse of a short-lived ceasefire, US vessels stationed off Libya fired 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles into the gulf nation destroying much of its ability to fight back against NATO aircraft.

French aircraft then destroyed a column of Gaddafi’s tanks converging just 40 miles from Benghazi, which had steadily pushed the rebels back across the country after their initial surge caught the regime off-guard.

“In their panic, many of the soldiers had left engines running in their tanks and trucks as they fled across fields,” reported Kim Sengupta for the Independent. “Some raided farmhouses on the way to swap their uniforms for civilian clothes. But others did not make it, their corpses burning with their vehicles or torn apart by spraying shrapnel as they ran to get away.”

The Guardian reported rebel claims that Gaddafi was now forcing demoralised soldiers to fight by handcuffing them to their tanks, and forcing them to fly planes without parachutes.

“We found 13 men wearing the military uniform of Gaddafi,” the Guardian reported rebel spokeperson Khaled al-Sayeh as saying.

“Some were handcuffed and we believe they were executed possibly for defying orders.”

The AFP has meanwhile reported that the US is now using satellitse to monitor 9.5 tonnes of mustard gas Gaddafi has stored in the Libyan desert, in an effort to prevent a potential terror attack.

“We believe that it’s secure,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan told AFP. “Even if not weaponised, there’s still a threat, but it’s a smaller threat than if it is weaponised.”

Air strikes last night destroyed Gaddafi’s residence in Tripoli and a building the coalition claimed was Gaddafi’s command and control centre. Gaddafi has responded to the attacks by claiming on state television that he was prepared for a “long war”.

“We will not leave our land and we will liberate it,” he said, over the telephone.

“America, France, or Britain, the Christians that are in a pact against us today, they will not enjoy our oil,” he claimed. “We do not have to retreat from the battlefield because we are defending our land and our dignity.”

Despite the coalition’s vastly superior firepower, the moral complexity of the intervention is fast rising. In his justification for war to British Parliament, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said intervention “is right because we believe we should not stand aside while this dictator murders his own people.”

However media present in the capital Tripoli were reporting that Gaddafi was loading civilian ‘human shields’ into military infrastructure across the city, including women and children.

Gaddafi’s strategy has resulted in wavering support from the 22 member Arab League, when Secretary-General Amr Moussa condemned “the bombardment of civilians”.

The Arab League had pressed for a no-fly zone in a rare authorisation of force against one of their own member states – a deciding factor for intervention, according to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – however the Pentagon had emphasised even a no-fly zone would require destroying Gaddafi’s ability to fight back.

Veteran war correspondent Robert Fisk, writing for the UK’s Independent newspaper, observed that the West had largely ignored the fact that the powerful tribal group leading the rebellion in Libya, the Senoussi, were overthrown in 1969 when Gaddafi deposed their King Idris.

“Now let’s suppose they get to Tripoli. Are they going to be welcomed there? Yes, there were protests in the capital,” Fisk wrote, “but many of those brave demonstrators themselves originally came from Benghazi. What will Gaddafi’s supporters do? ‘Melt away’? Suddenly find that they hated Gaddafi after all and join the revolution? Or continue the civil war? The red, black and green ‘rebel’ flag – the old flag of pre-revolutionary Libya – is in fact the Idris flag, a Senoussi flag.”

President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, who called for UN peacekeeper intervention in Libya at the start of the demonstrations,  welcomed the international coalition’s enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

“The Maldives reiterates its desire to see a swift end to Gaddafi’s regime and hopes that the people of Libya will soon enjoy fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the President’s Office said in a statement.


10 thoughts on “Moral complexities of Libyan intervention rising as Gaddafi prepares for “long war””

  1. Another crap war by the west for oil. If this war is to save libyan people from Gaddafi, why not bomb yemen, bahrain, syria and iran too. There government forces are also killing the democracy protesters. And why not bomb Saudi, they sent forced to Bahrain to killl the protesters. Why only Libya? Why the double standard? I dount this bombing is to create no fly zone over libya. Because the planes have been bombing libyan military baracks too. If you want to create a no fly zone, I believe you have to destroy only the libyan air force or the planes and runways of libya. The war has already gone beyond that. It always starts like this. Slowly the western forces will end up with ground units in libya. This is all about oil, nothing else. Sadly the arab league and african are too weak to stand against Obama, Camerron and Sarkozy.

  2. @Yasir

    Thats a idiotic, I will tell you why and where the concern springs. Even now boat loads of refugee's are setting sail to north of the Mediterranean to European mainland, this isn't good for the EU. Second Libya under Qaddafi isn't a theocracy, making it known his distaste for the beardies, clamping down on religion. Now would be the time to influence the next leader and make sure its not a beadie.

    Although unlike the Egypt, Libiya seems to be lacking in leaders.

  3. This is definitely for OIL, what else, I am not a supporter of Gaddafi, but why the double standards, why was there no similar action when Israel was bombing Gaza and killing civilians, why not Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, what about opposition suppression in Iran? why not similar action in these by the USA, Britain and France? IT IS FOR OIL no doubt.

  4. @mithra: the boats loads coming from africa to italy arenot coming from libya for your information. They are coming from tunisia and landing in lampedusa. i know this better than you as I am in italy. and let me tell you that libya is the only country from north africa who under gaddafi rule has managed to stop illegal migrants from fleeing by sea route to italy. gaddafi is a dictator i agree, but tell me who is not a dictator in the arab world. every fucking arab leader is a dictator. only israel is a democracy in the middle east. yesterday the head of the US military commander said that this war is all about creating no fly zone over libya (acording to BBC). but today obama declared that US mission is to topple gaddaffi and free the people pf libya. Aljazeera (the only news channel reporting from within libya) reports the forces have bombed villages, hospitals, mosques and even a small fishing port over the night mounting to several civilian deaths. Is this the way you create no fly zone. Now who is killing civilians of libya, gaddafi or western forces? War can never bring peace to no one. The libyan problem was an internal matter which could have been best resolved by political means and intervention by libyan arab neighbours and african union. The western forces have no right to interven like this. This is merely nothing but a war for oil. once again civilians are dying under the leadership of yet another hypocratic US president. The UN passed resolution to create no fly zone but the this war is definitely now going beyond that target. In the end, the western forces will enter libya by ground an create a mess out of the country just like the way they did in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the way last night Israel jet fighters bombed the already blocked and crippled Gaza for a whole night (BBC states). Why is no one creating no flyy zone there? Open your eyes and think from your brain. Talk sense and without favouritism and biasness. I am not saying Gaddafi is a great man, but every sensible man knows that this war is not the solution for libyan problems.

  5. Ibrahim Yasir,

    Your assertion that the Libyan intervention is driven by greed for oil isn’t very convincing when the best argument you have is ‘why not x,y and z countries instead?’.

    Maybe Yemen quite justifiably requires UN intervention – but the fact that it didn’t does not in any way reduce the pretty legitimate and morally justifiable action to place a wedge between an insane, murderous dictator and his citizens in Libya.

    On the other hand, HAD the US intervened in Yemen, you might have just as easily asked ‘Why not Sudan? Why not Darfur? Why not x,y,z?’. There’ll also be another vocal group that’ll see the US/UN/Western involvement in Yemen or Bahrain and immediately come to the familiar conclusion ‘They’re attacking Muslim nations! Death to America!, etc’.

    Ultimately, it’s a no-win situation for the West when it comes to some of you.

    It will never matter to you whether the West’s actions are justified morally or legally, because let’s face it - the problem does not lie with them, it lies in the fixation among some of you guys who always manage to find an excuse to blame America/the west. You simply want to feel victimized, no matter what the Americans do. That’s kind of sad, if you think about it.

  6. I'd like to add that I always notice a pattern in the constant whiny comments about 'America' - especially among the extreme conservative section of our society which appears most susceptible to the whole victim complex.

    When they can't explain their backwardness, they denigrate the West's achievements. When they can't justify their actions, they condemn the West's actions. When they can't condemn the West's actions, they question the West's motives. When they can't find any visible motives, they just plain invent conspiracies.

    It is a seriously no-win situation! Some people can just never be satisified.

  7. @yaamyn
    You seem to be very passionate of america. Then how do you justify the strong support of US for Israel? How do you justify the biasness of their support for Israel? People like you will always stay ignorant. You guys never open the eyes to see the reality and never live in the real world. No matter what you say, the west is not right all the time creating wars and bringing useless deaths in this world. They went to iraq looking for WMD which they never found. An independent war inquiry found out later that it was all a fiction invented by CIA and white house. They came to afghanistan looking for osama whome they have never managed to catch despite having the best military and technology in the world. They now have shares in the iraqi oil and earns billions from afghanistan poppy farms. This is the reality. Writing big words protecting them wont help me. I know and look more into the reality. Gaddafi was fighting against rebellions, rebellions means people who take up arms against the government. He didnt kill any single civilian protester. he killed rebellions. the issue could have be resolved politically and arab intervention. this is the very same gadaffi who was a strong friend of western leaders until few days. now he is an enemy and the west is tryign to get rid of him. Just like the way they are trying to eliminate taliban. Taliban was a creation of America but they also became enemies when america no more needed them. I hope people like you get blessed with common sense and may your ignorance be gone as soon as possible.


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