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UN Resolution passed on Libyan No Fly Zone
UN Resolution lead by France
The UN tonight has just passed a resolution on a no-fly zone over Libya. The resolution was pushed by France and there were 10 votes in favour and five abstentions.
Tonight Gaddafi is saying he will enter the last stronghold of the rebels the city of Benghazi to the East of Tripoli. It is being reported that he says his forces will show no mercy for the enemy. The question now is how fast will the no-fly zonet be implemented and how fast will Gaddafi move?
Benghazi on eve of passing UN no-fly resolution and warning of attack by Gaddaffi
The Libyan revolution has been ongoing for a few weeks and in the early stages the rebels had a lot of successes and took a number of major towns. However Gaddafi hasn't been so easy to remove and has clearly waged a careful campaign of assessing his forces and then moving firmly but relatively slowly against the resistance. At this point the last strong hold appears to be Benghazi and indeed events in Libya have been off the global media radar in the last week or so as the disaster took promince.
There are a number of factors and considerations at play in Libya. First off, it seems to be clearly part of the chain reaction of events starting in Tunsia, then Egypt, with significant protests and outbreaks of violence by the state in Yemen and Bahrain. The events in Libya mainly kicked off after the success of Egypt.
On the one hand it is great to see these revolutions and people struggling for freedom. The question still hanging over us is whether in the medium to long term they will just amount to a change of guard and the military and former elites will remain largely intact. At the moment in Egypt, there are still many strikes and protest ongoing as the people try to push forward and gain what they can.
From the point of view of the capitalist and former imperial European powers, they have a number of things to weigh. All of these countries such as US, UK, France, Germany, Italy etc were quite happy to work and sell weapons and carry on industrial projects with everyone of these North African and Middle Eastern regimes. Now they have to pretend they are for democracy. So just as much as the internal elites in these countries, they would be just as happy with a change of guard, but they are realistic to know that there has to be some level of visible change at least in the short to medium term to give the impression of success with some token freedoms and reform but no real change. They don't really want a change in the status quo. For example if many of these oil producing countries were to change their relationship with Israel that would cause problems for some countries in terms of the dynamic used to dominate the Middle East. If these countries started sharing more of their oil wealth, perhaps they might want a higher price or use more and therefore export less.
There is no doubt too that the populations of the US and Europe are looking at these revolutions very approvingly and while they are not remotely suffering the same level of repression, they are facing into major drops in living standards through the austerity measures to pay for the bank bailouts. They are also seeing their social welfare states and all the other gains of the last century being systemically taken away and sold off to the private sector. Overall they are not happy and the sight of seeing people fight back and possibly win must be stirring the minds of millions elsewhere.
In the case of Libya then, the situation would appear to be as follows. It would not have been good for the capitalist & former imperial powers if the revolution had succeeded immediately for they would have had little time to get an opportunity to control and events and any new leaders. The ideal is that it has drawn out the way it has and that Gaddafi has gained the upper hand. We now have a situation such that for the revolution / rebels to succeed they do need the no-fly zone and generally air-support of US/NATO. But there will be a price to pay.
The US has gone out of it way to be the shy partner in all of this up to the last day or two and the reason is obvious because it would be seen as yet another bombing of another Arab country by the Americas. France has been quite keen to lead the charge no doubt for many reasons, but at least one has to be is that it will raise its profile and standing amongst the other powers and it gives them a certain amount of influence. You could read this as the US is so busy elsewhere, it leaves an opening for others to take a bite of the pie.
At this point, now that the no-fly zone has been approved in the coming weeks, we can be reasonably certain Gaddafi will be ousted but not before many of the rebels are killed. We can be sure the supply of weapons and air cover means the US/European powers will therefore automatically have a say in all the major decisions of when the rebels come to power and who will and who will not lead Libya.
At the moment, there is a lot of speeches about protecting civilians from the US, UK and French government. But we should remember that both the US and UK have been engaged in Iraq now for many years where well in excess of 1 million have already died and many of those were civilians. Likewise daily drones operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan kill civilians and even before the drones came on the scene, there were many air strikes killing 50 here, 60 there and so on, either at Afgan weddings or funerals.
As much as we want the rebels to succeed, we must recognize the factors and forces at play and not confuse and juxta suppose that helping the rebels = good, therefore intentions of the helpers = good. Its not unfortunately.
On the other hand some people might say there are worse regimes than Gaddafi and there probably are but nevertheless it is still a brutal regime and should be got rid off. One way or another the people who have suffered over the past few weeks and will suffer tonight and in the next few weeks will be the ordinary people and the whole thing just yet again emphasises that.
What will be interesting is when this is over, will the population in Saudi Arabia attempt to light the spark of revolution and how will the major powers react there? Will we hear calls for the protection of civilians or will they be calls for "stability" in the regime which of course means allow the regime to suppress things because of the central role of Saudi Arabia in the worlds oil supply.