Libya: Sarkozy Pulls The Trigger And Sends French War Planes

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Coalition Military Assets

France will send the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to Libya on Sunday, according to the French minister of defense. The US has F-15 and F-16 fighter jets in Sicily while USS Barry and USS Stout destroyers carrying sea-to-ground missiles are in the Mediterranean. Spain, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Canada confirmed that they would be providing fighter jets.

At around 6:00 PM { US PST }  3/19/2011: According to the Agence France Presse, bombs were dropped near the Tripoli headquarter of Gaddafi early Sunday. The bombs exploded as an aircraft flew over the Bab al-Aziziyah headquarter south of Tripoli. The action prompted barrages of anti-aircraft fire from Gaddafi’s forces. The AFP reporter couldn’t confirmed if the bombs hit their target.


On Saturday, President Sarkozy pulled the trigger and announced that the military operations over Libya had started, as French jet fighter war planes were reported flying over the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. After an international summit on the Libyan crisis held in Paris, President Sarkozy made a short statement in a televised press conference.

“The participants have agreed to apply all necessary means, in particular military ones, to enforce the decision of the UN Security Council. Air forces will fight aggression of Colonel Gaddafi against the population of Benghazi,” Sarkozy said adding that French war planes are already flying over Libya. President Sarkozy also added that the planes are in place not just to enforce the UN no-fly zone, but would hit tanks and other military assets aimed at civilians.

“Other French planes are ready to intervene on tanks that are threatening unarmed civilians. Today we are intervening in Libya with a mandate of the Security Council of the United Nations, and with notably our Arab partners, to protect the population from the deadly madness of a regime that has lost any legitimacy,” said Sarkozy adding that the people themselves must chose their own government.

British Prime Minister Cameron, who is President Sarkozy key partner in this unfolding military operation over Libya, told the press after the Paris emergency meeting that Gaddafi had broken the ceasefire, and will face urgent action to prevent more civilian death.

“Colonel Gaddafi has made this happen. He has lied to the international community, he has promised a ceasefire, he has broken that ceasefire. He continues to brutalize his own people, and so the time for action has come. It needs to be urgent, we have to enforce the will of the UN and we cannot allow the slaughter of civilians to continue,” said Cameron.

In a sad irony of history, today marks the eight year anniversary of the Iraq war. And while no wars can be viewed or described as “good wars”, the current operation in Libya compared to the war in Iraq offers a study in sharp contrast. The war in Iraq was not approved by the international community, while the intervention of France and Britain in Libya has been legitimized by a resolution of the United Nations. For this reason, Libya can be defined as a “war of necessity” as opposed to the “war of choice” that was, and still is, the war in Iraq. The last war of necessity fought by the United States was World War II, since then, however how it can be rationalized, all wars fought by the US have been imperialist neo-colonial wars of choice. It was the case for Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and of course Iraq.

Furthermore, while the military operation  from the international community against Gaddafi, with France in the lead, is taking place late in the game, the action gives a very clear warning to the other autocrats in the region in countries such as Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia that the United Nations is watching and can do more than just talk, but can also act forcefully and  aggressively if they commit crimes against their own populations.

Editor’s Note: All photographs courtesy of Al Jazzeera English’s photo stream.




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