Wednesday, March 23, 2011

UN Resolution Against Libya

With the authorization of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the allied forces spearheaded by the United States, France and the United Kingdom launched their large-scale military actions against the military of Muanmmar Gaddafi's regime starting from 19 March.

Ever since the outburst of the massive demonstrations against the authoritarian rule of Gaddafi in Libya, Gaddafi has been taking actions against the dissidents with high-handed crackdown, which include attacking unarmed demonstrators using fighter jets. In the ensuing military actions against the areas controlled by the revolutionist forces, his military have shown no mercy to innocent civilians as well.

Disdainful and Bloody Massacres
Although Libya is a sovereign country, the disdainful and bloody massacres committed by Gaddafi's forces have violated the fundamental values and beliefs commonly recognized by the modern society. The UNSC passed a resolution on 17 March, which approves setting up a no-fly zone in Libya and authorizes the international community to take any necessary measure to protect the Libyan civilians and their residential areas from the threat of armed attacks. We believe that Russia and China, which always insists on the principle of non-interference, had abstained instead of vetoing the resolution this time out of the consideration that the main objective of the UNSC resolution is to protect the common people in Libya. It was also because of this reason that Singapore had made the stance to support the UNSC resolution.

The allied forces have resorted to cruise missiles and combat jets to destroy the air defense system of Gaddafi's military based on the reason that the latter has violated the ceasefire resolution of the UNSC by continuing its attacks against places controlled by the revolutionary forces such as Benghazi. The action is to stop Gaddafi's military from killing or hurting Libyan civilians in their attacks. If we examine from this perspective, the military actions of the allied forces can be considered a justifiable move.

However, it is easy to start the attacks but it is hard to bring it to an end. The UNSC resolution only agrees on setting up a no-fly zone, protecting civilians and imposing harsher sanctions on Libya such as arms embargo and asset freeze. The resolution does not authorize the allied forces to deploy their ground forces to occupy Libya. Under such circumstances, should Gaddafi's military disregard the UNSC resolution and continue their actions in wiping out the revolutionary forces, it seems that the allied forces would have no other more effective measures besides launching 'surgery-style combat' against ground targets in Libya.

If the allied forces accidentally hurt some Libyan civilians who happen to be Gaddafi's supporters, it will not only go against the spirit of the UNSC resolution; instead, such accident will will also be an issue that Gaddafi can utilize to rally pan-Arabic nationalist sentiment in the Arabic world to counter the West.

In fact, Gaddafi has begun to do so. The Arab League was the organization that proposed to set up a no-fly zone in the airspace of Libya initially. Now the secretary-general of the organization Amr Moussa has openly criticized the military actions of the allied forces. He said that 'what happen now in Libya has violated the objectives of setting up a no-fly zone. We need protection of the civilians, not bombings on more civilians.'

Disagreement Within EU
There is also disagreement within the European Union (EU). German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle defended his country's abstention in the vote on the UNSC resolution by citing the criticism of the Arab League on the military actions against Libya. He said that Germany is right to adopt a reserved stance on this issue.

It is hard for the allied forces to continue their military actions if they do not have the support from the Arab League. In addition, US President Barack Obama has earlier stated that launching military actions was not his first choice; while the US Defense Secretary Robert Gates also said yesterday that the United States will recede in the coming few days (he stressed repeatedly earlier that the United States would not deploy any ground forces to Libya) and will pass over the command authority to the United Kingdom and France. Judging from these signs, the United States does not want to see aggravation of the situation and has no intention to make Libya a 'second Iraq' or 'second Afghanistan' that will get the US military into a big trouble.

Future Step
Considering various factors such as the lack of adequate authorization from the UNSC, the objection of the Arab League, the absence of consensus among the EU and the reluctance of the United States to lead for long term, it seems that the allied forces' military actions against Libya are just a temporary measure. It is rather unlikely that it will develop into a long war.

The military actions over the past few days should have weakened Gaddafi's military strength to some extent. The next step should be diplomatic actions. They should attempt to persuade Gaddafi to resolve domestic conflicts in a peaceful manner as much as possible. But will there be any effect? We can only observe the subsequent development. After all this is an internal issue of Libya, eventually the Libyan people have to resolve it themselves.

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