Monday, 11 April 2011

The New Libya: what to expect

The news that the AU leaders met Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi, who has accepted a "road map" for a ceasefire with the rebels, will probably hit rocks as NATO warplanes carried out an intensive air raids on Gaddafi’s forces.
The announcement followed a meeting between the leaders and Gaddafi on Sunday in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, just hours after NATO air raids targeted his tanks, helping the rebels push back government forces who had been advancing quickly towards their eastern stronghold. The African Union (AU) delegation was due to meet the rebels on Monday. The AU had planned a similar visit in March but were stopped when the UN imposed the ‘no fly zone’ (‘no Gaddafi zone’ might be better). The AU was the lonely sensible voice then that ruled out military action as a solution to the Libyan crisis, at the time the Arab League (already beleaguered with similar protests in their countries dubiously called for a ‘no Gaddafi zone’).
Three weeks into that military action, the west and their cronies have now realized that the Libyan crisis could only be solved politically not militarily. At the time when the AU ruled military option out, commentators and politicians across the world laughed at them and raised all manner of reasons why the AU did not want to get involved. Recently the AU Commission Chairman, Jean Ping, was reported to have said that the AU was totally ignored by the UN in Libya. Consequently, the AU boycotted the London Libyan conference, which was called by warmongering leaders who wishfully thought that they had succeeded and piled praises on themselves for having prevented a bloody massacre, but the reality is that they only ended up (knowingly or unwittingly) directly or indirectly massacring civilians not from Benghazi, but in Misurata, Brega, and Ajdabiya as rebels battle though failingly to keep their defences. It was fundamentally aimed at removing Colonel Gaddafi from power not to protect civilians.
The rebels are likely to reject the AU mediation efforts because their demand is for Gaddafi to step down, which is not possible. They will thus reject it especially now that NATO air strikes have given them hope. The rebels, of course, would not even be given the chance to accept any deals with Gaddafi because the west will not allow them. Even if the Transitional National Council (TNC) in Benghazi wants a power sharing deal with Gaddafi, the west will reject it and might force it down the TNC not to relent but keep on fighting Gaddafi.
If the rebels reject the peace deal (which they would), it would be against the backdrop of renewed tactics and reinforcement adopted by the more organized and tactical Gaddafi forces which has seen them so far winning back gains that the rebels aided by US air bombardment had made.  Gaddafi’s forces are now bent on staging an attack on Benghazi.
On top of that, oil prices are rocketing and causing unease even in western countries and the prospect of where this will lead to.
Although Gaddafi’s letter to Obama urging him to stop the bombardment of his country only received public criticism with Secretary of state Hillary Clinton totally rebuffing it, there might be more to it. Events on the ground show that Gaddafi’s letter, although publicly criticized, might have been taken into consideration more seriously than publicly admitted. This might explain the reason for America’s withdrawal of its fighter jets from the coalition forces.
People are now getting worried about the futileness of this whole endeavour and that it was only wishful thinking for the rebels to imagine they could depose Gaddafi even with foreign bombardment.  It could even be postulated that most of the 31 TNC members are just beginning to realize that it was all futile and are perhaps scheming a way out.
Moreover, with their first oil sale almost about to be made, as the Liberian registered tanker is now in China, the TNC might quickly dissipate the oil revenue among themselves, abandon the cause and flee Libya as it is becoming clear that they are losing the battle.
Change, will surely come to Libya, but with Gaddafi still in the lead role, although, now he would be a crippled man after tons of bombs destroyed his military hardware.  He would be left a weakened man and in need of oil money to rebuild the country. As a result, he would not attempt to abrogate oil deals he had with western oil companies except that any future oil deals will favour countries that either supported him or abstained from carrying military action against him. Sanctions will not affect Gaddafi so much because the west needs his oil.
In the new Libya, Gaddafi’s sons led by Saif Islam might be appointed the new Prime Minister of Libya while Gaddafi will now play only a supervisory role. He can no longer go for Arab League conferences (either they would not be able to tolerate his scathes at them or he just will not want to meet them after they have betrayed him.)
He would be wary of the west. He might not also want to antagonize, sponsor or support terrorist activities against the west, for now, he knows what they can do to him and what appropriate measures they would inflict on him if he encourages, supports or sponsors any terrorist activities against the west.


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