Libyan pic­ture un­clear as truth is first ca­su­alty

Bray People - - OPINION -

WITH a 'No-Fly Zone' in place, the fog of war is al­ready swirling in Libya with claims and counter-claims about who is do­ing what to whom. And as is al­ways the case in war, truth is the first ca­su­alty.

The U.N. Res­o­lu­tion au­tho­rises the coali­tion formed to counter Muam­mar Gaddafi's ag­gres­sion to use all means to check at­tacks on and threats to civil­ians, as was ev­i­denced by the swift French air as­saults on tanks and other ve­hi­cles on the out­skirts of rebel-held Benghazi on Satur­day.

The rebels say around 100 peo­ple were killed in Gaddafi's at­tacks on the city be­fore the in­ter­ven­tion of the French, the Gaddafi camp say sim­i­lar num­bers of civil­ians were killed by the Cruise mis­siles and bombs of the coali­tion fired and dropped dur­ing the first day of air as­saults, os­ten­si­bly on anti-air­craft de­fences and com­mand and con­trol units.

The head of the Arab League Amr Moussa im­plied that he didn't know that the res­o­lu­tion au­tho­ris­ing the 'No Fly Zone' over Libya would mean that bombs would be dropped and civil­ians put at risk by the very thing in­tended to pro­tect them.

But is he telling the truth, just mis­un­der­stood, or pan­der­ing to a do­mes­tic elec­torate in Egypt where he is to stand as pres­i­dent?

What­ever the truth, his un­set­tling re­marks were not what the coali­tion needed to hear just as Arab states, in­clud­ing the UAE and Qatar, were send­ing fighter jets to bases in Italy as part of the mainly West­ern aerial ar­mada. It is es­sen­tial that the Arab states are kept on board.

In these days of 24/7 tele­vi­sion news, you would think that we are fully in the pic­ture about what is hap­pen­ing in Libya. But the move­ments of jour­nal­ists based in Tripoli are tightly con­trolled by the Libyan gov­ern­ment. They see what Gaddafi wants them to see and go where he wants them to go.

So how do you de­cide what is fact and what is pro­pa­ganda? At the week­end, the Libyan gov­ern­ment an­nounced a cease­fire at the same time it was as­sault­ing the west of Benghazi. You be the judge.

The coali­tion says regime change is not on its agenda and that it is au­tho­rised only to pro­tect civil­ians.

So how do you deal with the larger prob­lem of Gaddafi, who has clung to power for more than four decades and who, prior to his 're­ha­bil­i­ta­tion' in re­cent years, was a ma­jor spon­sor of terrorism.

Those lead­ing the coali­tion would like to see him top­pled by his own peo­ple, but the fu­ture is very un­cer­tain and de­spite the over­whelm­ing fire power di­rected against the colonel there doesn't seem to be an end game in play at the mo­ment.

The rebels, ad­vanc­ing un­der the al­lied air um­brella, have re­gained their mo­men­tum in the east of the coun­try, but it's hard to see them push­ing to­wards Gaddafi's power-base in Tripoli - so the likely re­sult will be a stale­mate with Libya ef­fec­tively di­vided ge­o­graph­i­cally and ide­o­log­i­cally be­tween East and West.

Crit­ics of what is hap­pen­ing in Libya ques­tion why the way Gaddafi is be­ing dealt is not be­ing ap­plied when it comes to other Arab states where there is un­rest and re­pres­sion, Bahrain and Ye­men among them.

We are told the con­di­tions are not the same as those in Libya, but then what is not the same is that their gov­ern­ments, how­ever un­pop­u­lar, are pro-West­ern, but then that would be a very cyn­i­cal point of view, wouldn't it?

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