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article imageOp-Ed: Libya, a war on two fronts

By Donna Murphy     Mar 26, 2011 in Politics
As we watch the war in Libya, it becomes a war on two fronts. The first is the actual physical fighting, the second is the propaganda war.
As we are watching the events unfold, this situation is becoming increasingly alarming. The various representatives from the military and United Nations daily tell us how successful they are with the "no fly zone". However, the pictures of smoking tanks and bits of missiles are getting a bit repetitive.
When we watch, what could only be described as a loose bunch of people with guns and jeeps, who have no idea who is in charge, head off into the distance, I do not get an overwhelming feeling of success. I even heard one reporter describe, how the rebels would go off in a group to fight in a specific area and when they were either bored or tired, they would come back and go home. I fail to see how this master strategy is going to defeat well trained and armed forces determined to hold on to power. One positive on this front was that for the first time yesterday, there was a statement of sorts by Essam Gheriani, described as a Spokesman for the Libyan Opposition, when asked what was next, he replied, "To Tripoli". It looks to us at the moment, like a real rag-tag bunch with no command and control structure, although when Iman Bugagis, (a media officer with the Feb 17 Coalition spoke to Alert net) she acknowledged that there were a range of tribes and said, "They are Libyans like us and they were repressed like us." I feel it is inevitable that some sort of ground force will have to be sorted out if there is any likelihood of moving this situation on to any sort of conclusion. The obvious problem with this is to make sure that it is in no way seen as an "invading" or "occupying force" although, I do not envy the people who will have to work the logistics of this out.
The other major problem is the war of propaganda. With a seasoned professional like Qaddafi, he has not held on to power for over forty years without learning a thing or two. When referring to the air strikes providing cover for the rebels to march south to Adjdabiya, Ibrahim Moussa, a Qaddafi spokesman for the government said, "This is illegal." When the west are shown reports from the Government in Tripoli, it is quite clear that he still has a loyal following and he matches foreign reporting of incidents, which neither side can verify. The rest of the world is left to make up their own minds who they believe. The longer that this goes on it could well end up dividing an already very fragile coalition with the Arab League.
The Middle East is a tinderbox at the moment with Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and even Syria having their own problems. It looks like it is going to be a long and bloody time in this area and with each country having to deal with it's own issues, it is unlikely that they will be able to devote time and money to the Libyan problem. At the moment, we do not even know who we will be talking to, if and when these countries problems have concluded..
Listening to the Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt yesterday, he thought that the measures implemented by the coalition forces were having an effect, but were not yet complete. Whilst he said, "I think he (Qaddafi) will have to go." He went on to describe how, he thought there will be a need for a political agreement in order to finally resolve the situation, contributions would need to be made in order to get Libya functioning as well as time and expertise to rebuild the country. He did point out that Libya is not a poor country, so would be able to finance the bulk of this.
The problem with all of this is that Qaddafi has not yet lost his power. The rebels do nnot seem to have gained any major ground, although Ijust a bunch of blokes with no training going back and forth albeit with great optimism. How long will their numbers and resolve last, should Qaddafi remain in power, what will be the repercussions for these people. I am sorry to say that this seems to be a hastily and badly thought out situation. Something decisive will have to happen or else I can see this dragging on for a long time, draining resources that, in a world recession, could be better used. Let us hope that the announcement from "The African Union" are trying to start a dialogue in order to resolve this issue, will be successful and rapid, saving lives on all sides.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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