LIBYA–NEW BATTLE FOR THE FUTURE BEGINS!
By Howard Wheeldon, Senior Strategist at BGC Partners
22 Aug 11. With fighting continuing in Tripoli and particularly around and inside the vast Gaddafi compound caution on expectations is probably the order of the day. However, it does now appear that a successful end to the fighting in Tripoli is probably now quite close and that the Libyan people will soon be freed from the regime of ‘tyranny’ that they have endured for the past four decades and more. Having met only token resistance as they rode into Tripoli it does appear likely that by the end of the week the majority of Libya will be under the control of its people. As the ’rebels’ surged through parts of the Libyan capital in Tripoli last night meeting little of the promised resistance they are reported to have around 80% of Tripoli under their control.
With the end game now coming into place fair to say that neither the battle for Libya or Tripoli itself could have been won without the forces under NATO command. Under UN resolution 1973 which had acquiesced to French and British government requests for NATO led forces to provide protection to the Libyan people through the operation of a no-fly-zone across the state together with air and sea power actions in support that were intended to suppress pro-Gaddafi forces ability to kill its own people British and French forces together with those of other NATO allies such as the US, Denmark and Canada have done a truly fantastic job. While NATO took more time get its act together and right to say perhaps that French forces have not always acted under direct control of NATO command the campaign across the whole Libyan theatre has been very effective indeed. In respect of Britain’s involvement whether or not you happen to believe that direct military involvement was correct or not it is absolutely right to state that under duress of limited force and equipment availability the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy played out their respective roles in the Libyan campaign in a manner that has been commendable in every respect. The speed at which they were able to enact the original repatriation of nationals and particularly delivering the full range of air power capability for formidable.
But as the battle for Tripoli draws to a close and the group of unelected, untrained ‘rebels’ that comprise a bunch of teachers, shopkeepers and ordinary people seeking freedom from years of Gaddafi tyranny and dictatorship now face the even larger job than the one that they have conducted so brilliantly on the ground since March. That job is first to convince their own people that they can form a temporary administration that effectively can give the people what they supposedly want. Secondly it will be what to do with the captured elements of the Gaddafi family and pro-Gaddafi forces that can be seen by the rest of the world to be fair and reasonable treatment in accordance with UN principles. Thirdly it will be to convince governments around the world that they deserve to be recognised as a legitimate ‘government’ despite being unelected. Britain chose to go down that road three weeks ago when Foreign Secretary William Haig stretched out the hand of official friendship and recognition of the regime. Others will no doubt be more cautious until they can be reassured that there is an effective leadership in place and that free and fair elections are in future intended.
The bottom line is that there are always live dangers for any country that is fighting in direct support of achieving a democracy. In 2010 so far we have witnessed uprisings that have brought to an end effective dictatorship governments in Tunisia, Egypt and now of course in Libya. We have watched troubles erupt in Bahrain and in the Yemen and now we watch with baited breath as events unfold in Syria. We should be mindful that in the case of Tunisia and Egypt and the uprisings that we so cheered earlier this year that