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article imageOp-Ed: Libya — time to reassess the situation

By Donna Murphy     Apr 9, 2011 in Politics
This can only be described now, as a civil war. We have Qaddafi's forces on one side, the 'rebels' on the other and no sign of anyone speaking for the whole of the country.
We have not really seen anyone portrayed as the 'leader' of the 'rebels'. It comes to something when the Chinese are saying the Libyan 'rebels' lack a charismatic political or military leader who articulates their cause. What ever you may think of Colonel Qaddafi, you can't ignore him! At this point, we really have no idea if either of these sides speak for the bulk of the population.
As this conflict drags on, it not longer makes the top story on the news. There is a different suggestion put forward every five minutes and NATO opinion seems to be ever more divided. Even the 'rebels' have accused the alliance of mistakes and neglect. NATO Commanders, in turn are frustrated, saying to the rebels that they are not their proxy air force, but a force to protect civilians.
Whitehall has developed a sudden enthusiasm for the idea that the Arab states should pay private military contractors,(mercenaries to you and I) to go to Libya and train the rebels. However, there are many problems I can see with that. Primarily, no one really knows who the 'rebels' really are. We see some soldiers that have defected, a whole bunch of chaps from former professions such as shopkeepers, farmers and if the news reports shown are anything to go by, drivers. There are rumours that the 'rebels' have been infiltrated by al-Qaeda and of course the academics, who have put a document together of what Libya will do at the end of this war. We also have to remember all the other times we have armed one side in order to change a political situation that was not liked only to end up fighting the very same people a little while later.
On the other hand, we are told that the pro-Qaddafi forces have changed tactics. They are disguising their armaments and moving their soldiers around in ordinary cars. (Aren't we supposed to have bombed their other means of movement?) Rear Admiral deputy commander of NATO operations, Russell Harding said, "it was difficult for allied pilots to distinguish between 'rebels' and regime troops." To top all of this, it would appear that the front line is practically back at square one.
Even one of the reporters on the ground was telling his UK based presenter, there is still loyalty to Qaddafi, don't forget, some people have done very nicely over the last 42 years, I would be rather surprised if they want to give it all up now.
With the war dragging on, the cost ever spiraling and not much of a military solution in sight, the word 'exile' is being banded about. What a change from a few weeks ago. If Colonel Qaddafi were to even contemplate the thought of exile, he would be crazy if he did not extract the promise of immunity from prosecution from NATO and anyone else who want to prosecute him and his family of followers before he would even consider it.(Always providing someone will take him, of course.)
This then begs the question, if we give him immunity, what does it say to all the other despot's holding on to power now and the ones to come. What does it say about the United Nations, would they intervene in the next dispute and if they do, will they do things differently. (Maybe, get a lot more Intelligence before they jump in.) Would they be much more careful when drafting the next Resolution, so that everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet.
Unless we come up with some sort of solution soon, NATO will look like a laughing stock and the countries that abstained from the Resolution 1973 will be making their voices heard. It really needs someone to take the bull by the horns and come up with a solution to this saga.
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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