Muammar Gaddafi Must Not Be allowed to Remain in Libya
Last week William Hague the British Foreign Secretary and his French counterpart Alain Juppe' both suggested that Gaddafi can stay in Libya provided he steps down from power. I argue that this is wrong and can have serious consequences. The London Financial Times called Hague's comments "silly and unachievable" and the Libyan Transitional Council was understandably outraged.
Gaddafi is not known for his conciliatory nature, nor is he known for respecting agreements. To start with, even if he steps down he will continue to instigate violence and tribal warfare. With his huge cash resources he can foment civil conflict. He would finance assassins, saboteurs, and mercenaries to carry out reprisals against his opponents. Anecdotal evidence shows that he and his sons have container loads of dollars stored in secret locations in Libya to fund a campaign of terror throughout Libya.
If the aim of the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 was to protect civilians by all necessary means, then this should include the removal of Gaddafi from Libya. His presence in Libya would not be conducive to peace and stability. It would also pose dangers for Libyans who sided with the revolution against his odious regime.
Protecting civilians by all necessary means should be just that. This term can be interpreted broadly to mean a very wide range of options including the expulsion of Gaddafi and his family from Libya. I further argue that NATO's feeble intervention from the air has helped to keep Gaddafi in power.
What are the scenarios?
Given NATO's impotence and the rebels' disarray, what options are available now?
1- The UN and the Arab States agree to divide Libya into two small states, an Eastern State (Cyrenaica) and a Western State (Tripolitania). This option allows Gaddaffi and his sons to rule Western Libya for ever or until the Eastern State is able to overrun the Western State at some point in the distant future. Most observers agree this is not a satisfactory option.
2- Whilst the skirmishes continue and the stalemate prevails, strong sanctions must be used against Tripoli and areas under government control to allow for gradual strangulation of the regime and weakening the grip of Gaddafi. People will eventually turn against the regime and join the rebels. So far sanctions have not succeeded in bringing down the regime.
3- Beefing up support for the rebels in terms of logistic, training and weapons to make them more effective.
4- The Arab League must be pressed by the UN and the Super Powers to take more responsibility in providing protection for the civilians. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States can make a tangible contribution. They have the resources and they are not friends of Gaddafi.
5- A diplomatic solution which enables Gaddafi and his entourage to leave Libya and seek refuge elsewhere. This option is not acceptable to many Libyans who would like to see Gaddafi and his corrupt sons brought before a Libyan Court.
NATO must seriously consider the deployment of an effective force of ground troops to help the rebels topple the regime swiftly and decisively. I don't buy the Vietnam or Iraq scenarios. Five months down the line NATO has been unable to defeat the forces available at Gaddafi's disposal. Whilst NATO is fiddling, Libya burns and Gaddafi stays.
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