As this is being written, Britain, France and the US are taking military action against Muammar Gaddafis government in Libya after his non-compliance with demands of the international community to not open fire against anti-government demonstrators, as protests erupt throughout the Middle East in a number of Arab countries.
The basic issue, summarized, is that the people of Libya are not happy with their authoritarian leader, neither are most of the western world, a leader who came to power in Libya in 1969 through a military coup against the countries monarchy and turned Libya into a republic, the coup rallied support from the Libyan people initially, post independence, his party became known as the “Arab Socialist Union” in 1971 and the only legal party in Libya. In 1970, Italians and Jews were expelled from the country and their property confiscated. He has never been a supporter of peace being made between Israel and the Arab world and has directly supported Palestinian terrorist efforts against Israel as a part of his Pan-Arab vision.
Like many neighboring Arab countries in the Middle East, Libya is a one party dictatorship, that does not deal nicely with dissent and now that it is being challenged, Gaddafi has shown his willingness to open fire against his own people.
Under these conditions, the international community regarded such behaviour to warrant international intervention to stop Gaddafi from assaulting his own people through a coalition of foreign nations not deploying any ground troops but by launching air strikes at Libyan government and military installations.
I’d like to look back at an event that occurred a few years ago now. In 2006 the Palestinians had their first election, where the terrorist, Islamist group, Hamas ran for election against Yasser Arafat’s party, Fatah. The result of the election was the formation of a Unity government with Hama’s Ismail Haniya as Prime minister. In 2007 Hamas took control of Gaza through force, eliminating any presence of Fatah in the strip, including throwing Fatah supporters and members off of buildings.
This civil war did not provoke talks of any humanitarian intervention at all. The people of Gaza have since been ruled by Hamas under a brutal dictatorship. Hamas asserted that it would refuse to honour agreements previously made by Fatah and not recognize Israel’s right to exist. This caused Israel and Egypt to implement a blockade of the strip and the European Union and the United States to stop giving aid to Hamas. Whilst continuing to support Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Meanwhile, Hamas’s uncompromising, militant stance resulted in the suffering of ordinary Gazan’s and rockets being launched into southern Israeli cities.
The international community did not consider taking any kind of intervention to stop Hamas either during the Battle for Gaza between Hamas and Fatah nor to remove them from power and protect the people suffering there after the war. When Israel decided to launch Operation Cast Lead, the world universally condemned it as immoral and illegal. Yet the reason for military action is not so dissimilar to the track record of Gaddafi. Gaddafi also pestered his neighbours, when he invaded Chad and Egypt.
According to Fatah spokesman, Ahmad Assaf following the Goldstone report said that Hamas:
“Apologizes to Israel for killing Israeli civilians, but at the same time refuses to apologize to the Palestinian people for crimes it has committed against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, for killing hundreds of Fatah members and for injuring hundreds of other Palestinians… during and after the blood-soaked Gaza coup.”
Following Operation Cast Lead, came pressure on Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza through NGOs sending “Humanitarian” ships to deliver aid to Gaza, which resulted in the Flotilla raid where the Israeli navy stopped the ship from going to Gaza in the sea resulting in soldiers being attacked by crew members and violence.
Israel, once the ship had been searched, where weapons were found following the incident agreed to deliver the goods to Gaza, which Hamas then refused to receive until Israel release the detained members of the ship to return to their home countries.
This operation in Libya has not ended, and only just begun as Gaddafi has urged Libyans to retaliate to the attacks made by the British, French and Americans, it is unlikely that this conflict will be any different to any other military conflict, civilians will suffer and be killed, damage will be caused and some will increase their hatred and prejudices of others.
When one hears words used to describe Israel’s actions in Gaza, they hear it described as an assault, a massacre and a war crime. Not an intervention to liberate the people of Gaza from a hostile, extremist regime and to build a new and free Gaza living peacefully with its neighbours. This is the language used to describe U.S. forces in Iraq.
In Afghanistan it isn’t even described as having anything to do with intervention on humanitarian grounds, the world just unanimously accepted that after 9/11, the one man allegedly responsible happened to be in Afghanistan and that it was fine to invade a country and still be there a decade later bombing the place to pieces looking for him. But Israel knows where the people responsible for the acts of terrorism against Israel are, and is told off each time she goes after them.
David Cameron addressed the nation this evening claiming that the UK, French and American attacks on Libya were “Necessary, Legal and Right”. I agree that action should be taken against Gaddafi, I also think it should be taken against Mahmoud Ahmadinijad in Iran and Hamas in Gaza by international coalition forces.
In fact, I think that if such a policy were more consistent in enforcing international law then Israel would not have had to invade Lebanon to remove Hizbullah from its border upon the failure of UN peacekeeping forces or the Lebanese army to do so, or to have invaded Gaza to prevent rockets from Hamas.
It just seems as though intervention is selective, there are plenty of war crimes and humanitarian crises that occur all the time. No one sent foreign military forces into Rwanda to stop the machetes cutting peoples throats for example.
Meanwhile, Hamas are trying to prevent all western news agencies from reporting on recent demonstrations in Gaza calling for Hamas-Fatah unity.
A CNN article reported that Hamas security forces raided international news agencies head quarters in Gaza in search of footage of the rallies; where Hamas beat up and detained several protesters and journalists covering the rally. Hamas has also once again launched rockets into southern Israel, which Israel has responded to.1
Perhaps whilst the British, French and Americans are in the area they can stop by in Gaza and Lebanon next.