Four days since the no fly zone was declared by the UN Security Council and already the situation has become more complex. The media has gone through the Jingoism of declaring war and the “TV defence analysts” have given their verdicts but now we have the reality begin to hit home.
The next few days will be crucial in seeing just how far the allies are willing to go and how robust the coalition really is. The initial indications are mixed at best.
The political allies of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy are taking credit for their mastery in obtaining a UN resolution passed and many seeing this as an eclipsing moment over the Blair UN debacle over Iraq. http://bit.ly/flEohq
This is however a false comparison. A No Fly Zone was always going to be on the cards as soon as the Arab league agreed in principle to it publicly. The sick nature of politics though will never surprise as political capital is made out of the suffering of others.
We are only 48 hours or so into the actual enforcement of the no fly zone and noises coming from both the allied camp and the Arab league have become ambiguous and inconsistent.
There is already talk of the extension of the UN directive to include taking out Gadaffi as Liam Fox and William Hague intimated this morning http://bit.ly/fG7VhD.
To confuse matters, the Arab League appear to be getting cold feet already as they see the reality of what a “no fly zone” really means.
Pictures of civilian casualties hit the screens and an unexpected show of support for Gadaffi in Tripoli as they bury their dead.
Some reports now showing more support for Gadaffi than has hitherto been shown, showing that not all support is orchestrated by Gadaffi’s henchmen. How the population of Tripoli see’s the bombing of their country by outsiders will be key to how this turns out. If solidarity closes around Tripoli as a fight against the oppression of the west rather than a fight for democracy, everyone loses.
The talk is of “surgical strikes”, the new buz phrase. The truth is never quite surgical though on the ground.
The US are already distancing themselves from anything William Hague and Liam Foxx are saying and want to take more of a back seat.
Amr Moussa the secretary general of the Arab league has intimated that the action by the allies so far has already exceeded the remit of the UN resolution, which begins to put pressure on the alliance already http://bit.ly/gYQQlr. All very predictable and shows how complicated this situation is already.
Democracy could win out if the armed forces turn against Gadaffi in a relatively short space of time. Without the army Gadaffi can be crushed, but as yet there is no sign of this. The winds of change may well be turning toward a protracted war of attrition as the rebels are poorly trained and poorly armed will find it very difficult to capture Tripoli unless that population rises up on mass.
A protracted civil war and the arming of the rebels by the west over many years could well ensue.
Iraq’s no fly zone lasted 12 long years and ended with boots on the ground a nightmare scenario of increased terrorism, unstable middle eastern politics and a humanitarian catastrophe.
Gadaffi has the capability if he can remain in power to fund terrorism across the globe in the way he has done before.
The truth about going to war is that when the war is not about a case of territory alone as in the first Gulf War, then a can of worms is well and truly opened up with unintended consequences. No “analyst” or politician knows what will happen next. Cameron’s and Sarkozy’s political triumph today could be a quagmire of defeat later.
THE WAITING GAME
Only time will tell how this will turn out. From the allies perspective the less time the better, from Gaddafi’s perspective the longer it drags on the better chance he has.
The debate today in Parliament will be interesting but is a forgone conclusion, muted wide spread support will be forthcoming from all sides of the house.
As usual the hypocrisy of our foreign policy has continued and little is said about the massacre in Yemen of 40 people dead or the oppression in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. This is bound to continue if the Arab League remains behind the action. Deals done behind the scenes are bound to have agreed no action in these states as the US have discussed arming the rebels in Libya via Saudi Arabia.
Its a sobering world we live in. Lets hope Gaddafi goes soon before the alliance falls apart and the west has to retreat.