Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Libya: arming rebellion 'would turn tide'

The Libyan rebel movement could legally be supplied with weapons from abroad in a move that would rapidly bring the conflict to an end, defence experts have said.

The United Nations resolution that was made before that governing the no-fly zone prevented Col Muammar Gaddafi's government from obtaining arms but analysts say that it would still be possible to arm a provisional rebel government.

There are growing doubts that the rebels will be able to prevail over Col Gaddafi's forces without outside intervention, and there are worries too that a costly and dangerous stalemate will follow a lack of decisive military action.

Brig Ben Barry, of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said however that if a provisional council was recognised by the United Nations, it would be able to accept arms, and could quickly overthrow Gaddafi loyalists or persuade the Libyan ruler's inner circle to oust him.

"If this went on for months and months then equipping the rebels would make a difference. The UN arms embargo only proscribes the current Libyan government so if another state recognised a provisional council as the new government it could then agree to requests for assistance including weapons and other military supplies.

"If significant parts of the Libyan military capability were destroyed it could change the minds of those within the regime who might then view Gaddafi as more part of the problem rather than the solution."

Lt Col Richard Williams, the former SAS commander, said that the first thing the rebels needed was a political leader "who can offer to pro-Gaddafi people something that will not terrify them".

Prof Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute, said: "If we get into a stalemate over the coming months then I think arms supply would make a real difference. Rebels will be better organised to provide a sustained and sufficient back bone."

However British defence chiefs admit they are struggling to understand the rebel groups. "We are trying to understand what they want and what they are doing," said a military planner in the Ministry of Defence. "There's no cohesion and there are factions from Benghazi to Misurata and those in Benghazi are not necessarily the right people to talk to. I think stalemate is distinct possibility."


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


The Middle East is in an uproar. There’s always some sort of uproar in the Middle East, but this one is affecting a number of countries simultaneously and has already resulted in several suprises and personnel changes.

Anti-government demonstrations have already led to the resignations of two dictators, Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

In Libya, however, Muammar Khaddafi, the longest-ruling dictator of both the Middle East and Africa, is not giving up. A full-scale rebellion is going on in that country, as Khaddafi has no intention of leaving power. This guy is ready to go down fighting and has no qualms about killing plenty of his own countrymen.

There is talk now about the U.S. getting involved. Should we intervene in Libya, helping the rebels to overthrow Khaddafi?

It wouldn’t be the first time that U.S. troops have been involved in Libya. Remember the Marines’ hymn – “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli” In Tripoli, now Libya’s capital, U.S. Marines fought the Barbary pirates nearly two centuries ago.

In 2011, though, we’d better think long and hard before jumping into the Libyan cauldron. In fact, it’s high time to re-evaluate our whole Middle Eastern policy and see if we need a course re-adjustment.

In the first place, history should have showed us by now that just because a ruler is a dictator doesn’t mean his replacement will be any better. Remember that old Who song that says “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” The new boss might even be worse than the old boss.

In Egypt, there are already ominous signs that the Muslim Brotherhood may be the eventual rulers of that nation. Would a Muslim Brotherhood government break Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel? Would Egypt’s Christian minority (comprising 10% of the population) be treated worse than it already is? How would a Muslim Brotherhood government affect the region’s balance of power?

As for Libya, Muammar Khaddafi is an anti-American dictator. But do we really know what sort of government would replace him? No, we don’t. Do we know for a fact that it would be an improvement? No, we don’t. Among the rebels are elements of Al Qaeda. As for the rest, besides being against Khaddafi, what do they stand for?

Do we really want to get mixed up in Libya, a country over which we have almost zero influence? How do we know what sort of new government we would be bringing into being?

The Middle East is a complicated region. There are all sorts of rivalries. And behind it all is the Islamic steamroller – a totalitarian system incompatible with Western Civilization.

I would suggest that we seriously consider staying out of this one. We already have troops in Europe and various Mideastern countries, especially Afghanistan and Iraq (where I served a tour of duty). And let’s not forget, our nation is heavily in debt.

How about if we keep an eye on things and let the Libyans sort this one out?

I would suggest that if anybody feels very strongly about aiding the Libyan rebel cause, that he go over there himself and offer the rebels his services.