Gaddafi bears responsibility

French-Lebanese scholar Gilbert Achcar on the no-fly zone in Libya:

Over at Al Jazeera, Marwan Bishara asks:

So who bears the responsibility for turning Libya into a war zone and an object of an international military intervention?

Could it be those who confronted a peaceful civil uprising for freedom with lethal force, and when it escalated into a full-fledged revolt, used aerial bombardments, heavy artillery to quell it?

Libya could have and should have gone Tunisia or Egypt’s path of change. But while their militaries conceded the need for regime change, in Libya the family-led powerful militias, financed and groomed to defend the regime’s “country estate”, sided with their pay masters.

While the Gaddafis continue to show images of pro-Gaddafi demonstrators in Tripoli to offset the images of widespread anti-Gaddafi/pro-change, in reality, Libya is not divided between two visions for their country.

Rather between a majority that seeks free and prosperous Libya, and a mostly small heavily-armed minority that runs or benefits from a corrupt rule.

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Srebrenica on the Mediterranean

Two days after Gaddafi promised that he’ll show ‘no mercy’, his troops are bombarding, some entering, Benghazi. The UN Security Council had passed a resolution declaring a no-fly zone over Libya. Thus far, the sky belongs to Gaddafi. There was a point where Gaddafi could have been thwarted, had his armoured columns been checked by the presence of hostile air power. No need to bomb them, just bomb the road ahead. Check their advance, send a message. Instead, the troops have been allowed to enter Benghazi. Now they cannot be attacked without inflicting high casualties on civilians. The UN forces will likely excuse themselves by claiming that tanks can’t be attacked because now they are in the city. Western forces are also reluctant because since 2003, Gaddafi has been a reliable economic parter and Libya has been a favoured destination for rendition flights. (Remember where Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi died?)

The UN could still salvage the situation by threatening Gaddafi’s supply lines. But I fear we are about to see another Srebrenica. In that instance, the UN forces delayed intervention till the Serbs had encircled the enclave and then declined to intervene because they said it would put their own peacekeepers lives at risk. Meanwhile the slaughter continues.