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Mainstream, Vol. XLIX, No 14, March 26, 2011

Illegitimacy of No-Fly-Zone against Libya: Reflections of the American World Order

Monday 28 March 2011, by Arshi Khan

The imposition of the ‘no-fly-zone’ against Libya under the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 on March 17 and subsequent unlawful aggressions by the US, UK and France for two days (March 19-20) seem to show the emerging trend of a new pattern of relationships and activities in international relations which the US desires, that is, of accepting a kind of ‘cowed conformity’ and ‘slavish submission’ by the states which had believed in pursuing independent foreign policies. This has been possible because of the existing nature of the ‘social media networking’ and the Western world politics is working on the basis of a Machiavellian interpretation of the nature of most of the people being ‘vulgar’ and ‘self-centred’. Plato called this tendency as the root cause of ‘ignorance’ resulting in the failure of peace, stability and order in Polis. That is why Mahatma Gandhi had rejected both Machiavellianism and Zionism. How easy it is for many people to believe in what the US and its hawkish allies said about Libya while they forget that all the excuses for continuing the UN sanctions against Iraq for 12 years (killing over two million people) and finally attacking it on March 19, 2003 were all lies. We forget and ignore the misuse of the American veto against 42 resolutions in the the UNSC concerned with the violation of international laws and the rights of the Palestinians since 1972.

Therefore, a proper and objective spectrum of understanding is required in the case of Libya. It is not a case for supporting Gaddafi but certainly an important question to look beyond it. The whole Arab world is in crises not because of internal factors but more because of external pressures and vicious designs to create a ‘new Middle East’. It is also important to note that the US, Israel and Western Europe are not for democracy, human rights, peace and stability in this region as their own records are poor. Earlier they practised ‘divide and rule’ within their colonies but now they are doing so at the regional level. They want this region free from assertive states, assertive and strong leaders, market socialism, state-controlled economy, independent media and policy-makers. They want to remove any force of resistance to the Zionist forces/Israel. Such a design will have spill-over effects around the regions of Central Asia, Turkey, South Asia and Africa.

Towards Lawlessness

WE also forget how the whole of West Asia has been made fragile after the occupation of Iraq, destruction of Afghanistan, suppression of Palestinians and mounting pressures and threats on Iran. Who would have such a long graph of committing crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression, war crimes, crimes against peace and genocide? The US, UK, Israel, France or Libya? We must address this question in black and white. The Israeli war crimes against Palesti-nians, Syrians and Lebanese are well-recognised facts. UK’s partnership with the US in various crimes cannot be ignored. France killed 1.5 million Algerians in the 1950s’ war of indepen-dence. France does not accept the concept of minority and it claims to be the best model of democracy. The Italian occupation caused the elimination of one-fourth of the total population of Libya by the end of World War II. Certainly I am not in favour of any kind of dictatorship but I prefer to admire a Hobbesian state based on one-sided social contract than being in the Hobbesian ‘State of Nature’. The Western intervention is breaking the Leviathan by promising a Lockean state with conveniences but the main objective of the West is not democracy. We can see that in Iraq and Afghanistan. The future Libya would be forced to become a fragmented, fragile and unstable Iraq or a ‘cowed conformist’ like Qatar which is the first Arab country to send four fighter jets in support of the West. In the case of Libya, many more pro-imperialist forces would be exposed.

The way the resolutions were crafted with dubious sentences and words and immediate military action against Libya by those forces which veto even a mildly critical resolution against Israel needs to be debated. Over 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired in the afternoon of March 19 from both the US and British ships and submarines striking more than 20 integrated air defence systems and other air defence facilities along the Libyan coast. The French Air Force launched strikes against Gaddafi’s troops. Missiles were fired from five US ships—the guided-missile destroyers USS Stout and USS Barry, and three submarines, USS Providence, USS Scranton and USS Florida. The US has at least 11 naval vessels in the Mediterra-nean, including three submarines, two destroyers, two amphibious warfare ships and the USS Mount Whitney, a command-and-control vessel that is the flagship of the American Navy’s Sixth Fleet. There are also Navy P-3 and EP-3 surveillance aircraft in this area. At least 64 people were killed and 150 others wounded. Six F-16 jet fighters from Norway will take part in the Western-led military operations against Libya after the Norwegian Air Force has been given the go-ahead. Canada also declared its war against Libya and bombed Gaddafi’s residential building. The second ceasefire was declared by Libya but the West has again indulged in a disinformation campaign that civilians are under attack.

Therefore, continuous provocations against the Government of Libya, incitement and all kinds of support to the rebels and criminals, condemnation of and pressure on Libya to surrender to the rebels, disinformation campaign against the government, demonisation of Gaddafi, misuse of the UNSC for passing resolutions 1970 and 1973, and finally the military aggressions on Libya clearly expose the ulterior, criminal, conspiratorial, neo-colonial and imperialist intentions against a country which has a small population of 6.5 million with the largest reserve of oil in the African continent as well as a vast territory. They attacked Libya and resorted to dangerous resolutions by the UNSC on the pretext of safeguarding the civilians and civilian areas as well as for humanitarian causes.

Resembling Iraq

IT is important to recall Iraq where the US and UK (in collaboration with Israel) carried out a series of criminal measures for ‘dual containment’ during 1980-88, ‘gradual destruction’ (by attacking Iraq in 1991 and then imposing severe economic sanctions followed by the heavy funding of anti-government mercenaries and exiles), imposition of a ‘no-fly-zone’ on Iraq and creation of ‘safe-havens’ (to consolidate Kurdish secessionism) and so on. Since 1995, the US worked on the politics of WMD and then on Iraqi linkages with the Al-Qaeda after September 2001 and finally bombings and occupation of Iraq where it succeeded in planting its agents in the form of rulers.

After Iraq, many things changed drastically in the Arab world where some governments are blessed with American assistance as their ‘new god’. So most of the Arab governments, their intelligence agencies and media like Al-Jazeera are filling in the gaps. I remember my private, informal discussion with the scholar Iraqi Ambassador, His Excellency Salah al-Mukhtar (under the Baath party rule), who long time back called Al-Jazeera an American sponsored news agency. On March 17, Al-Zahaf Al-Akhdar (The Green Page), a cartoon on the back page excoriated Al-Jazeera, its Saudi rival Al-Arabiya and the BBC, decrying their “false” or “biased” coverage. Al-Fajr Al-Jadid (The New Dawn) described Al-Jazeera’s coverage of March 16 as an outpost of Israel’s Mossad. The broadcaster’s owner, the “corrupt Zionist” Emir of Qatar, was condemned for supporting Libya’s rebels. They created similar situations whereby everyone under the scene created by the media believed in the US and Western interpretations.

In other words, the West is behaving like Zionist Israel and Libya is being treated like the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. This also indicates the Euro-Atlantic rejection of the status quo and celebration of ‘revisionism’ under which the US and its partners seem to show ‘Rambo Super-positivism’. It makes a complete break with the established order in international politics guided by the UN and international laws. This heralds a ‘dark age’ of ‘mercenary-interventionist policies’ of the strong against the weak. It is also tragic to note that the US and its puppets are determined to convert the UN into their raqqasa (hired dancer). This enforced conformity had to be realised on the basis of a set formula under which the US State Department and CIA propagated their agenda of freedom, democracy, human rights and free market economy. In fact there was no ground whatsoever for the approval of the anti-UN resolution and airstrikes against an independent country which was very near to achieve full control over the law and order problem created by the Al-Qaeda, and the CIA-sponsored agents, Al-Jazeera and the Western media.

Siding with Brigands for Chaos

THE scene created by the aggressors looks more dangerous in space and time if it is compared with Iraq in 2003. It is only with five weeks of the upsurge and that too created by the US and CIA agents who armed and emotionally exploited the rebels to create chaos in Libya. The aggressors called it a Revolution despite it being the work of brigands. They never call the massive appeal and demonstrations of the Palestinians, Iraqis and others as a Revolution. When the Libyan Government exposed the armed gangs engaged in disturbing law and order and took required actions, the aggressors called it murder while on the same day the Zionists were killing the Palestinians in Occupied Territories and Americans were killing in India’s neighbourhood. They called the Libyan Army mercenaries, spread the rumour of personal assets of Gaddafi and plagiarism by his son in his Ph.D as also the rumour of Gaddafi having escaped to Venezuela.

The West justified the aggression to protect the civilians but it did not report that the ceasefire declared by the government after the 1973 Resolution was passed was broken by the rebels compelling corrective measures from the side of the government. The Libyan Government accused the West of helping the anti-national forces to disturb peace and stability. The US-Europe controlled media and sympathetic analysts gave a wrong impression that foreign workers were leaving Libya due to Gaddafi and the rebels were peaceful in their demonstrations. The media did not highlight demonstrations everywhere in Europe and the US against this aggression on the innocent Libyan people. The government spokesman, Mousa Ibrahim, said: “If Libya goes down, the whole of the Mediterranean shall go down, the whole of Africa, the north of Africa. We are arming our people, men and women. We will not allow Libya to be lost like Palestine, like Iraq, like Somalia, like Afghanistan.” Western journalists were met with the anger of hundreds of protesters screaming anti-American slogans and chanting boisterously in support of Gaddafi. The regime’s supporters flooded the cemetery grounds for mass funeral, which was broadcast live on state television.

Let us look at the factsheet. Anti-government forces are against foreign workers. They are also armed and involved in violence and lootings. It was on February 15 that 64 youths showed up and similar acts were displayed. They formed Youth Committees on February 17 and captured buildings, government troops, and terrorised the people. In Beida and other cities, they used dynamite and broke into compounds of the security forces, ransacked the buildings and put them to torch. They broke into the Benghazi Army base and looted arms. They took control of bulldozers belonging to foreign companies and raided vast armouries. They also looted a university’s computer lab and fired on various buildings. They captured tanks and anti-aircraft guns including 300 fighters at the Abraq air base. Islamic groups have kept a distance except the Al-Qaeda which is a part of the CIA project.

It was on this ground that the Libyan leadership resorted to the use of arms to restore peace and order in the country. Gaddafi blamed it on drug addicts, agents of the Al-Qaeda and the US. The West never told the world that the Libyan Government certainly lacked in civil rights but their stakes in economic and cultural rights are exceptional. Libya is in a transitional phase of socialist revolution which is rooted in a kind of ‘Bedouin Socialism’ based on ‘People’s Committees’. There is no President, no parliament and no political party. It is pursuing the Third Universal Theory and the government provides free housing, cars, education and other facilities to the Libyans.

Libya suffered heavy casualties during Italian rule and due to international pressure after the 1969 Revolution when it nationalised economic institutions. Libya was tagged with terrorism. In the 1980s, it was put under sanctions on account of the Lockerbie bombings of two passenger planes. Turkkaya Ataov, an expert of terrorism, did not find any Libyan hand in it. Despite this, Gaddafi agreed to pay compen-sation, unilaterally demanded by the West, to be free from sanctions. In 1986, the US attacked Tripoli where Gaddafi’s daughter was killed. He later invited foreign investment and rebuilt Libya’s relationship with Italy. He halted research in nuclear and chemical weapons. He played an active role in the African Union and invited exiles to return. He was making a gradual move towards democratic principles. On the contrary, the Western policies continued to create divisions between the government and some sections of the people and finally attacked the former to create complete lawlessness in Libya so that a weak leadership coming as Gaddafi’s successor would think of its own safety rather than the security of the people.

Tampering with the UN

THE West mobilised the media and ignorant leaders of the Arabian Peninsula and corrupt rulers of Africa to spread rumours against the Libyan revolutionary leader who at least gave stability, security, dignity and prosperity to the country and its people. Such rumours can be compared with the kind of false campaign of the US, UK and others about the possession of the Weapons of Mass Destruction by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein including the allegation of his links with the Al-Qaeda involved in the 9/11 terrorism. In the midst of such falsehood, the US got tremendous support from the Arab world whose leaders sided with Washington to seek favours and avoid such interventions in their own domains.

As a result of high-tech and political manipu-lations the aggressors managed to pass a Resolution 1970 in the UNSC in February. It was not only dangerous but showed the vulnerability of the UNSC to the US, UK and France in particular. This resolution referred the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in Hague. The Security Council referral gave the ICC jurisdiction over the crimes committed in Libya. The ICC may investigate crimes including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. As many as 114 out of 192 are not the members of the ICC. Libya is not a party to the ICC Rome Statute. The ICC Prosecutor will report regularly to the Security Council.

The resolution imposes an arms embargo and other arms restrictions. All states are prohibited to provide any kind of arms to Libya. All states are prohibited from allowing the transit to Libya of mercenaries. Libya is prohibited from exporting any arms to any other state. States are called upon to inspect suspicious cargo that may contain arms. All states are called on to strongly discourage their nationals from travelling to Libya to contribute to human rights violations.

It imposes targeted sanctions on seventeen Gaddafi loyalists who are subject to an inter-national travel ban. Just like Iraq (Resolution 687 of 1991) a Sanctions Committee has been established to impose targeted sanctions on additional individuals and entities who commit serious human rights abuses, including ordering attacks and aerial bombardments on civilian populations or facilities. The resolution called upon to work together to facilitate humanitarian assistance and support the return of humanitarian agencies. The Security Council expressed its readiness to consider additional measures to achieve the delivery of such assistance. The Security Council is to keep these sanctions under review and strengthen, modify or lift them in the light of the prevailing situation.

Disabling Libya under UNSC Resolution 1973

IT is disturbing to note the wording, deliberately crafted by the US and Zionists, ‘to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian places’ in the UNSC Resolution 1973. This is not simply a resolution for the no-fly zone but the total approval of a naked aggression on the Libyan people under Chapter VII of the UN Charter—to get full freedom to bomb Libya by all means without any conditions. It is an allout war against Libya. The no-fly-zone is basically meant for preventing the country’s fighter planes to use its sovereign space. This resolution has been approved under this name of no-fly-zone but its nature is far more dangerous. The resolution demands an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute “crimes against humanity”; the Security Council imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace—a no-fly-zone—and tightened sanctions on the Gaddafi regime and its supporters. Adopting Resolution 1973 (2011) by a vote of 10 in favour and none against, with five abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russian Federation), the Council authorised the member states, acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under the threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of the Libyan territory—requesting them to immediately inform the Secretary-General of such measures.

The Council stressed the need to intensify efforts to find a solution to the crisis that responded to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people, noting actions being taken on the diplomatic front in that regard. It further demanded that Libyan authorities comply with their obligations under international law and take all measures to protect civilians and meet their basic needs, and to ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance. Why are similar actions lacking in the case of Israel? It further decided that all states should deny permission to any Libyan commercial aircraft to land in or take off from their territory unless a particular flight had been approved in advance by the committee that was established to monitor sanctions imposed by Resolution 1970 (2011). In tightening the asset freeze and arms embargo established by that resolution, the Council detailed conditions for inspections of transport suspected to be violating the embargo, requesting states enforcing the embargo to coordinate closely with each other and the Secretary-General on the measures they were taking towards its implementation.

The resolution reaffirms its intention to keep the actions of the Libyan authorities under continuous review and underlines its readiness to review at any time the measures imposed by this resolution and Resolution 1970 (2011), including by strengthening, suspending or lifting those measures, as appropriate, based on compliance by the Libyan authorities with this resolution. It requested the Secretary-Secretary to set up an eight-member panel of experts to assist the Security Council committee in monitoring the sanctions. The UNSC meeting of 55 minutes took the decision of destruction of Libya contemplated for long. The resolution requests the Secretary-General to form, for an initial period of one year, in consultation with the committee, a group of up to eight experts (“Panel of Experts”), under the direction of the committee to carry out the following tasks:

(a) assist the committee in carrying out its mandate as specified in paragraph 24 of resolution 1970 (2011) and this resolution;

(b) gather, examine and analyse information from states, relevant United Nations bodies, regional organisations and other interested parties regarding the implementation of the measures decided in resolution 1970 (2011) and this resolution, in particular incidents of non-compliance;

(c) make recommendations on actions the Council, or the committee or state, may consider to improve implementation of the relevant measures;

(d) provide to the Council an interim report on its work no later than 90 days after the panel’s appointment, and a final report to the Council no later than 30 days prior to the termination of its mandate with its findings and recommen-dations;

Certainly both the UNSC Resolutions—1970 and 1973—against Libya are not for democracy but for destroying it as they destroyed Iraq. Sanctions are always genocidal in their effects on human resource development. Iraq is a luminous example where every section of society was adversely affected. It will not bring freedom as we can see in Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk and Erbil where the Americans are more secure than Iraqis. Resolutions passed by the Security Council contradict the UN Charter and the purpose of the establishment of the UN itself as both the resolutions are coercive measures of the strong over weak states further clearing the path for full-fledged aggressions. India, China and Russia played a highly objectionable and ambiguous role even as they abstained from voting but the statement of the CPI-M in India was noteworthy. It termed the aerial strikes as a “dangerous act of aggression” and said it was a “calculated intervention” in an internal conflict. The party asked all democratic and progressive forces in India to strongly protest yet another military aggression by America and its allies on an Arab-African country. It said: “They are now repeating what they did in Iraq, which led to deaths of millions of people on a large scale.” Certainly it will not uphold the principle of the UN in this case as it is a selective, prejudicial, unfair and obsessive imposition of neo-imperialism and the slavish mind-set on most of the Arabs. It will establish a precedent for a long series of violations of international law. The UN seems to be reduced to a cabin in the US State Department or an EU office-room in Brussels for giving a free hand to aggressors. Both the resolutions and aggressions on Libya and the forthcoming phase of sanctions are counter-productive to democracy, stability, peace and development in Libya. On the other hand, the takeover of the UN by the manipulating, destructive and oppressive forces is bound to undermine the nature and purpose of the UN Security Council.

Dr Arshi Khan is an Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.

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