Monday, March 21, 2011

So Gaddafi has been bombed, what comes next?

Bodies of  Gaddafi loyalists, lying in front of a destroyed tank,  are being covered after the 'allied' attacks on Gaddafi's troops near Benghazi.(Reuters)

1) Coalition forces have been attacking Libyan targets fo a second consecutive night. A missile strike has destroyed a building in Libya's capital, Tripoli, which Western officials say was one of  Muammar Gaddafi's command centres. Western journalists taken by Libyan officials to the compound were shown a ruined three or four-storey building. An official from one of the coalition countries, who asked not to be named, told journalists the strike destroyed Col Gaddafi's "command and control capability".

2) A US military official said Air Force B-2 stealth bombers flew 25 hours in a round trip from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and dropped 45 2,000-pound bombs. British offcials said Tomahawk cruise misslele had been fired from a Bitish submarine. 

3) In Misrata, a city west of Benghazi that has been under siege by government troops, residents say bombardments by pro-Gaddafi forces are continuing. A nearby air base was targeted in the first night of coalition strikes.U.S. Also in Benghazi some forces loya;l btoGaddafi are still in the city. It is not clear if the coalition is going to take action againstthem and if so how. Attacking fronm the air is not really an option in populated areas.

4) Gaddafi's troops declard a second cease fire as off 19.00 hours on Sunday night, but coaltion sources said it appeared not to be followed adn should not be taken seriously.

5) Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa has criticised the severity of the bombardment. 'What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians,' he said.The Arab League from the beginning supported the idea of a no-fly zone. It is not clear whether Mousa's criticism is shared by many Arab countries. Qatar, at least,  is to send four planes to join the coalition enforcing the UN-mandated no-fly zone, the US and France have said. It would make Qatar the first Arab country to take part in trhe operation.

6) U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said late Sunday that the U.S. expects turn over control of the operation to a coalition headed by France, Britain or NATO "in a matter of days," reflecting concern that the U.S. military was stretched thin by its current missions. Turkey was blocking NATO action, which requires agreement by all 28 members of the alliance.

7 ) A five member strong panel of the African Union (AU) called on Sunday for an “immediate stop” to all attacks after the United States, France and Britain launched military action against Moamer Gaddafi’s forces. The panel, composed of five African leaders,  was formed by the African Union at its 25th meeting on 10 March, to mediate between rebels in Libya and Gaddafi.Gaddafi position has always been quite strong in circles of the AU.

 8) Now that most of the air defense system of Gaddafi seems to have been been destroyed and the moment seems to be nearing that rebel stronghold are more or less safe from further attacks, questions arise what will happen next. What if the rebel forces eventually go on the offensive against Gadhafi's troops?What ifd they don't and the country remains effectively split? Are steps foreseen to put pressure on both sides in order to start negotations?
 Destruction after the attack by the coalition on Gaddafi's troops  near Benghazi (Reuters)

Juan Cole on his blog, cites the Kosovo prededent and  points to the possibility that third parties might be brought in in order to negotiate the next steps (he suggests countries that were lukwarm about the no-fly zone like Russia, India or Algeria). Also he suggests that oranisations like Amnesty should deal with officers of Gaddafi's army who  committed war crimes.
His suggestions seem rather optimistic, but insofar he points to the fact that thinking beyond the military action of the moment is needed, and needed fast, he certainly got a point. Military intervention on the basis of the U.N Charter in order to protect civilians, following the Kosovo precedent is one thing. But whereas in Kosovo the goals of th NATO intervention were quite clear, in Libya the don't even exist. There it was 'Serbs out, refugees back, return to the status quo'. Here the situation is, that the interventionits, as soon as the murder of civilians has bveen stopped, get mixed up in a revolutionary process of which the declard goa was to get rid of Gaddafi's regime. And that, it ought not be necesary to state it, is clearly not the task of outside powers. They should stay away from that as far as possible. Which makes it all the more imperative for the U.S, France, Britain and the other parties that took part in taking the decision to intervene, to sit together soon as possible and devise the next steps.

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