I have been blogging elsewhere on the situation in Libya. I will outline here why I believe that the action is necessary and appropriate.
First of all, from the beginning Qadhafi had been the aggressor, taking action against his own people who were protesting his regime. As soon as the Arab spring began in Tunisia and then in Egypt Qadhafi and those close to him put in action a plan to brutally put down any protests. According to one report that I read, one of the protest leaders in Libya who had been coordinating with others the protest, was summoned to the Qadafhi compound in Tripoli, and an exchange took place (this is before any protests began). That person was, I think the human rights lawyer who is active with the National Transitional Council.
Second, when the protests began Qadhafi had mercenaries in place who began immediately to use sniper action… killing the first of the protesters. The protests snowballed, until the wall of the fort in Benghazi was breached and the people took over the fort, declaring their independence from the Qadhafi regime. (this is a simplistic summary of everything that happened). The weapons held by the protesters to protect themselves had been very crude. However, once they took over the fort they had access to a weapons cache.
Third, other cities joined in the protests, and in each city, as well as in Benghazi the citizens stated very clearly that they were not involved with Al Qaeda. I believe them. These citizens were fighting for their lives because in some places they only had to step outside of their houses and onto the streets when they were struck down by a sniper’s bullet. This happened in Tripoli as well as in other cities such as Misrata and Brega, to name just a few of the cities.
Fourth, when the world’s attention was grabbed by the brutal put down of the citizens of Libya, it was at the point where Saif al-Islam Qadhafi had threatened that there would be no mercy for the citizens of Benghazi. The regime lie has always been that they were dealing with Al Qaeda and armed thugs. However, that is most certainly not the case at all. It is highly likely that amongst those fighting for their own lives and the lives of families and friends, there were some who had fought beside Al Qaeda in Iraq. They were there as mercenaries, and I have no doubt that as hardliners they have their own ideas about what should happen to Libyan society. The real question here is whether they are a minority, like they are elsewhere or whether they are the majority who have been fighting. Time will tell the answer to the question.
The intervention came just in time because the Daffy Duck troops had actually pushed to the outskirts of Benghazi and they had begun shelling the people. The action of NATO stopped them in their tracks. They were pushed back but they have not been defeated.
Fifth, the town that has borne the brunt of the wrath of Qadhafi has been Misrata. Up to 1000 people have been gunned down in the streets, and many thousands more have been injured. The dead included both women and children. In one instance a car carrying a mother and her three children was blown up. Daffy goons had been shelling the town of Misrata mercilessly for several weeks. They shelled the port in an effort to prevent humanitarian aid reaching the people trapped in the town. They also mined the harbour with landmines (they were caught in the act of laying the landmines). Not long after they were caught laying the landmines they started using cluster bombs, and then they used shells with other land mines attached so that they scattered in the streets and in the harbour. The attack on Misrata has been extremely vicious.
The UN sanctioned the action that is taking place through resolution 1970. The resolution provides that they are to use all means necessary, short of boots on the ground, to protect the citizens of Libya against the Qadhafi regime.
As expected, the regime has been using a lot of propaganda and have made some outrageous claims, including claiming that in the first bombing raids more than 40 people died at one location. The story was not true. The truth is that Daffy goons seized bodies from hospital mortuaries and laid those bodies at the bomb sites. On top of that the numbers killed kept changing. One unreliable account has come from the Catholic Archbishop of Tripoli, who has been quite vocal in spreading the regime propaganda. I consider his witness to be unreliable because he was making statements based upon hearsay. Also, Qadhafi allies such as Russia and China made noises from the beginning. They had been dealing with Qadhafi in a more underhand way, and thus they were looking after their own interests. Their protests were to be expected.
The Arab League has been supportive of the action in Libya. However, the initial Qadhafi propaganda almost caused cold feet. The leader of the Arab League was sorted out and has said nothing since then.
The African League are in cahoots with Qadhafi, which suggests that he probably finances some of their own actions in putting down their own people. Their efforts have been to seek a ceasefire that would leave Qadhafi in control.
Sixth, the one thing that struck me as being different from either Egypt or Tunisia was the use of the flag that was in use when King Idriss was usurped by Qadhafi. There is a nationalist streak involved which is not involved elsewhere. This nationalism does not suggest Al Qaeda to me, but it suggests that this is an uprising of the people of Libya against a most brutal tyrant and dictator.
This brings me to the latest from NATO which can be found here. NATO outlines their mission as well as providing details of the latest action that has been taken. Of note in this particular missive is the following:
Over the past couple of weeks we have witnessed indiscriminate mining and the escalating use of force by pro-Qadhafi maritime forces. This has directly disrupted the safe flow of desperately needed humanitarian assistance and put NATO forces at risk. This development of pro-Qadhafi tactics has also demonstrated a clear intent to attack NATO forces.
Last night, NATO took deliberate action in carefully planned and coordinated responses to demonstrate our resolve to protect the civilian population of Libya, using appropriate and proportionate force. “All the vessels targeted last night were naval warships with no civilian utility,” said Rear-Admiral Harding.
On April 29th, pro-Qadhafi forces used pro-Qadhafi maritime assets to mine the entrance to the port of Misrata. On a further three occasions, pro-Qadhafi maritime assets have been intercepted by NATO ships. This included an incident where NATO interdicted a booby-trapped vessel leading to the discovery and subsequent destruction of one tonne of explosives at sea.
Since the start of NATO’s mission, we have been vocal and pro-active in instructing pro-Qadhafi forces to lay down their arms. We have communicated our desire for them to move away from military equipment, military installations and maritime assets.