Libya: Is It Diplomatic Cacophony Or Does The US Want Gaddafi To Prevail?
The Obama administration and Europe have been undecided and divided for three weeks over what to do about the situation in Libya. The Libyan rebel national council have repeatedly asked for a no-fly zone to be implemented, but so far no concrete actions have been implemented by NATO. While international condemnations have been pouring in ,across the board, over war crimes and other serious human rights violation perpetrated by Gaddafi on his own people, no tangible actions have followed the outcries. The outcome of the Arab revolution in Libya is a critical test for the overall movement, and its success or failure in North Africa and the Middle-East. Some leaders in the West might be cynically hedging their bets and even hoping that Gaddafi will prevail in order to prevent the Arab movement to spread and blow the lid on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Division Within The Obama Administration
The Obama administration’s various surrogates have issued contradictory statements on how to deal with Libya and Gaddafi.
Secretary Clinton seems to be a proponent of a more aggressive policy on the matter. In a few days, she will travel to the region and will be meeting with Gaddafi’s opposition. The US Secretary Of State will also hold meeting with Egyptian and Tunisian officials.
However, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been aan advocate of a very cautious approach. Gates said that before a no-fly zone can be set up, a military attack has to take place in order to downgrade Gaddafi’s air force, heavy artillery and tanks.
On Thursday, the director of the NSA, James Clapper, went even further by stating that ultimately Gaddafi will prevail. Clapper told a Senate panel that the battle’s momentum had begun to shift in favor of Gaddafi. “I think, over the longer term, that the regime will prevail. Even if Gaddafi doesn’t defeat the rebels, Libya could end up split into two or three parts in a Somalia like situation,” said NSA’s Clapper.
Today, in an attempt to clarify the position of his administration on the issue, President Obama said during a press conference that “all options were on the table, including military options”. The US President also added that “Gaddafi must step down”.
Division Within The European Union
The European Union is divided as well over which strategies should be implemented in the Libyan crisis. Germany and Italy have criticized the French and British proposal to recognize the rebel national council and to impose a no-fly zone. At a EU meeting in Bruxelle on Friday, German and Italian officials questioned how representative the Libyan National Council is and what its intentions for the future of the country are.
On the other hand, Britain and France are pushing harder for concrete actions. The two countries have already drafted a resolution for the UN to review and are calling on complete air exclusion zone if Gaddafi uses chemical weapons or air power against Libyan citizens.
In France, on Thursday, the Sarkozy administration took the lead and went a step further by becoming the first country to recognize Libya’s opposition as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. France plans to send an ambassador to rebel-held Benghazi in the coming days, and Sarkozy is the one pushing for military action to help the opposition.
Editor’s Note: All photographs courtesy of BRQ.