Libya: Will Sarkozy Have The Balls To Attack Gaddafi’s Forces?

On Saturday, in Cairo, the Arab League called for a no-fly zone over Libya. By their decisions, Arab foreign ministers “urged the United Nations security council to assume its responsibilities in the face of the deteriorating situation in Libya, and take the necessary measures to impose an air exclusion zone for Libyan warplanes.” But despite the League’s request made to the UN, the international community, at the exception of France, keeps finding excuses to intervene while outgunned Libyan rebels and civilians are getting slaughtered by the thousands. Today, Libyan rebel forces continue to lose ground to the brutal attacks of Gaddafi’s troops.

According to the Agence France Presse, Libyan rebels have retreated from another key town after heavy artillery shelling and attacks by jet fighter war planes. An AFP reporter described dozens of rebels pulling out of the coastal town of Brega. This AFP report was independently confirmed by NPR. Rebel sources said forces of Gaddafi were advancing from the west after capturing the town of Uqayla. In Benghazi, all mobile phone communications were suddenly cut off for no apparent reason. However, rebels’ morale was boosted by the Arab League decision made on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the Obama administration, once again, paid lip service to the rebels by welcoming the Arab League’s decision, but it stopped short of giving full support to the no-fly zone.

“The United States welcomes the Arab League decision, which strengthens the international pressure on Gaddafi, and support for the Libyan people. The international community is unified in sending a clear message that the violence in Libya must stop, and that the Gaddafi regime must be held accountable,” stated White House spokesman Jay Carney.

But from the five members of the UN security council, only France is so far pushing for aggressive action including military strikes to cripple Gaddafi’s forces. Britain is now backtracking from its original support for implementing an immediate no-fly zone which entails military intervention.

“We’ve said it all along. One of the conditions for a no-fly zone must be broad support in the region. The Arab League’s request to the UN is a clear indicator that there is a broad support in the region. It is also necessary to have even broader international support, and it is also necessary for it to be clearly legal,” British foreign minister William Hague told the BBC.

It is leaving French president Sarkozy standing alone. On Thursday, in a surprise announcement forcing the hands of his EU partners, Sarkozy became the first head of state to recognize the rebels of Libya National Council as the country’s legitimate government. President Sarkozy also stroke a bellicose tone by proposing “targeted air strikes” in Libya as a way to end the violence. Sarkozy’s ability to act, usually for the worst but in this case for the better, can not be underestimated. A unilateral decision from France to strike Gaddafi’s force is completely within reach of France’s military capability. If Sarkozy is not bluffing and just playing a posturing game, it could be a win-win situation for him politically both domestically and internationally. As the Arab revolution will eventually keep gaining ground across the Middle-East, France could regain its lost prestige and become a prime partner for a pan-Arabic federation  in this brave new geopolitical landscape.

Editor’s Note: All photographs courtesy of BRQ Network.


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