In a written answer in Dáil Éireann on 14 April 2011, Foreign Minister, Eamon Gilmore, said:
“Calling for Colonel Gaddafi to relinquish power does not amount to actively seeking regime change” 
remark is beyond parody. If the Qadhafi
regime is no longer in power in
Libyan Foreign Minister, Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, was quoted in the Guardian on 20 April 2011 as saying:
Minister al-Obeidi should add
(Gilmore was replying to an interesting question from Fine Gael Deputy, Eoghan Murphy, who asked for “details of all those Heads of State outside of the European Union that the European Council has formally called on to step down”. Currently, it seems that Colonel Qadhafi is the only one that the EU has called on to step down.)
Who do they think they’re kidding?
In their letter to various papers on 14 April, Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy were also reluctant to use the phrase “regime change”, while saying they wanted regime change. They wrote:
duty and our mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect
civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Qaddafi by force. But it is impossible to imagine a future for
Who do they think they’re kidding? Of course, they are trying to “remove Qaddafi by force”.
They have been attempting to destroy as much of Qadhafi’s armed forces as possible; they have been giving air support to the armed rebellion against his regime; they have admitted to supplying non-lethal equipment and training to the rebel forces (they haven’t so far admitted to supplying arms); they have now got boots on the ground, albeit in limited numbers.
One could be forgiven for thinking that they want the rebellion to succeed in overthrowing the Qadhafi regime by force with their help.
NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, once foolishly took the provisions of Resolution 1973 about protecting civilians literally and suggested that NATO would be prepared to bomb rebel forces, if they were threatening civilians. That was the wrong message. He said it only once.
What is authorised in Resolution 1973?
There has been a lot of media chatter about what actions by NATO are authorised under Resolution 1973. Arming the rebels? Providing forward air controllers to the rebels to identify targets for NATO bombers? Training the rebels? Putting foreign troops on the grounds? Targeting Qadhafi? Academic lawyers and politicians have given their various opinions ad nauseam.
But, the truth is that if you are a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, as the US, UK and France all are, you can make a Security Council resolution mean what you want it to mean, because, even if you stretch its meaning way beyond credibility, you are immune from sanction by the Security Council for doing so – since you have a veto.
the US/UK claimed Security Council authority for invading
course, there may be a more general political price to pay in claiming
authority way beyond the obvious meaning of a resolution. Perhaps,
to now, they have been pinning their hopes on destroying Gaddafi’s forces from
the air and giving air support to the rebel forces in the
The US, UK and France seem to be strangely reluctant to arm them, even though the arms embargo imposed by Resolution 1970 was specifically cancelled in Resolution 1973 in the context of taking action to protect civilians. Could it be that they are worried that arms they supply might eventually fall into the wrong hands?
At the time of writing (24 April 2011) a military stalemate exists. The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has admitted as much. The best way to protect civilians and minimise civilian casualties is to have a ceasefire, as soon as possible, and to take up offers of mediation from, for example, Turkey, which has offered to mediate from the outset.
that is intolerable to the
overthrow of Gadaffi may require substantial numbers of NATO troops on the
ground, something which the
So, the likelihood is that bolstering the rebels will continue for the foreseeable future.
Was a massacre imminent?
In his weekly address to the American people on 26 March 2011, President Obama told them that Qadhafi was threatening a “bloodbath”. But he reassured them:
succeeding in our mission. We’ve taken out
Two days later, he asserted:
knew that if we waited one more day,
That implies that, without NATO intervention, Gadhafi might have killed nearly 700,000 people.
The view that a massacre was
He did say: "We will have no mercy on them". But by "them" he clearly meant armed rebels, who stand and fight, not all the city’s inhabitants.
He also said: "We have left the way open to them. Escape. Let those who escape go forever” and that "whoever hands over his weapons, stays at home without any weapons, whatever he did previously, he will be pardoned, protected”.
But the best evidence that
Qadhafi was not planning a massacre in
The above is based on Did Obama avert a bloodbath in
“emailed the White House press office several times asking for concrete evidence of the danger, based on any information the administration may have, but a spokesman declined to comment”.
“That's a surprising omission, given that a looming holocaust was the centerpiece of the president's case for war. Absent specific, reliable evidence, we have to wonder if the president succumbed to unwarranted panic over fictitious dangers.”
Strangely, in their letter on 14 April, Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy didn’t claim to have saved any lives at all, merely, that “tens of thousands of lives have been protected” by their action.
What did the Arab League request?
The powers that are bombing
Leaving aside the fact that the leaders of the 22 states
that make up the Arab League are mostly unelected despots, what did
the Arab League actually decide at this meeting? According to the Al-Jazeera
video report on the meeting (Arab
“Behind the scenes there were heated discussions resulting in two almost contradictory resolutions – there should be no foreign interference but at the same time the League wants the UN to set up a No Fly Zone.”
course, resolution 1973 goes much further than the imposition of a No Fly Zone,
authorising virtually unlimited foreign interference, short
of foreign military occupation, ostensibly to protect civilians in
no doubt that, without this request from the Arab League, Resolution 1973 would
never have been passed by the Security Council. With it, the resolution only got 10 votes,
with 5 abstentions – the BRICs (
The US-Saudi deal on
The states in the Gulf
Co-operation Council (GCC) – Saudia Arabia plus the Gulf sheikdoms of
After a meeting in Riyadh on 10 March 2011, GCC foreign ministers called upon the Arab League to take measures to stop the bloodshed in Libya and to initiate contacts with the National Council formed by the Libyan opposition (see Asia Times, 19 March 2011, ). Hamad bin Jasem bin Jaber Al Thani, the Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, said:
“When it comes to
Why have the GCC states
adopted this stance so enthusiastically?
Craig Murray, former
“A senior diplomat in a western mission to the UN in New York, who I have known over ten years and trust, has told me for sure that Hillary Clinton agreed to the cross-border use of troops to crush democracy in the Gulf, as a quid pro quo for the Arab League calling for Western intervention in Libya.” 
This has been confirmed
elsewhere (see, for example, Exposed: The US-Saudi
So, it appears that GCC
support for Western intervention ostensibly to bring “freedom and democracy” to
Another point: the Arab
League’s endorsement of a No Fly Zone was far from wholehearted . Of the 22 full members, only 9 voted for
it. 6 of these, including
A few days later the Security
Council passed Resolution 1973 and “foreign interference” began in
The leader of Hezbollah,
Hassan Nasrallah, is one of the few Arab leaders, who has warned of the dangers
of this “foreign interference” in the Arab world, even though he supports the
anti-Qadhafi forces in
(There has been a longstanding antagonism between Hezbollah and the Qadhafi regime, the origin of which lies in the disappearance of leading Lebanese Shiite cleric, Imam Musa Sadr, and two companions on a visit to Libya in 1978 at the invitation of the Qadhafi regime. This may account for Hezbollah’s support for Qadhafi’s Libyan opponents today.)
Addressing a rally in Beirut on 22 April 2011 in solidarity with the revolts in the Arab world, including in Libya, his message was that the failure of Arab leaders to take responsibility for what’s happening in the Arab world had “opened the way for a Western intervention in Libya” . He continued:
opens the way for foreign interference in every Arab country, bringing us back
to the days of occupation, colonisation and partition. … The rebels need to be
aware that international intervention could embroil
Happily, further Western
military intervention is unlikely.
In discussions in the
Security Council about events in