Give Time for Truce in Tripoli

Lord Bates

The leadership shown by the Government in mobilising political action in response to the appalling events in Libya is impressive. Their determination that their actions should be channelled through the United Nations is laudable. However, the clamour for immediate military action against the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi should be reflected upon at greater length and the tentative truce in Tripoli seized upon.

My reasons are as follows:

UN Unanimity? In all the haste to claim a united voice for the international community it should be remembered that Resolution 1973 failed to secure the support of five of the fifteen members of the Security Council. The five were not inconsequential members of the international community: Brazil, China, Germany, India and Russia. Speaking afterwards the leader of the Brazilian delegation at the UN said, “We are not convinced that the use of force as provided for in operative paragraph 4 of the present resolution will lead to the realization of our common objective — the immediate end of violence and the protection of civilians,” she said, adding that Brazil was also concerned that the measures approved today might have the unintended effect of exacerbating the current tensions on the ground and “causing more harm than good to the very same civilians we are committed to protecting”. The leader of the German delegation to the UN stated that ‘Germany saw great risks, and the likelihood of large-scale loss of life should not be underestimated. Those that participated in its implementation could be drawn into a protracted military conflict that could draw in the wider region. If the resolution failed, it would be wrong to assume that any military intervention would be quickly and efficiently carried out.’

Libya is different: the greatest strength of the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and now in Bahrain and Yemen was that the opposition espoused non violence. The images of crowds in Alexandria been beaten by police and yet shouting ‘Salmiya, salmiya’ which means ‘peaceful’ through clouds of tear gas and columns of tanks, was courageous, inspirational and against such power no regime or injustice could survive. With undoubted severe provocation the opposition in Libya have chosen a different path and that may yet prove to be the greatest weakness to their cause. The rebels are armed with sophisticated weaponry–sufficient to operate and bring down their own Mig-23 over Benghazi. What we are witnessing in Libya today is the beginnings of a civil war in Libya. That is why it is different. That is why the first task of the international community must be to stop all the violence so that a political process can begin.

Not just a no-fly zone: The first undertaking of UN Resolution 1973 is a call for a ceasefire, a pause in the violence from both sides engaged in the conflict. The second provision was to send a Special Envoy to Libya, who, along with a High-Level Committee of the African Union would facilitate a dialogue between the parties towards a ‘peaceful and sustainable solution’—as of now that Envoy and Committee have not commenced their work. This should be the priority, especially with the regime in Tripoli claiming that they are observing a complete ceasefire even if there is some evidence to the contrary from media reports. It may be shaky and incomplete but it is a pause in the seemingly relentless downward spiral into violence should be seized upon. If the Typhoons and the Tornados reach Tripoli before the Committee and the Envoy then their task and chances of success may be made more difficult. In Bosnia and in Iraq the imposition of the no-fly zone took months and years to establish even with a UN Resolution, whilst that was undoubtedly too long as the memory of Srebenica painfully reminds us, surely executing such an intervention within days and crucially before other non violent measures have had a chance to take effect or even been implemented, is too just fast to be safe. It is more indicative of a reaction than a considered plan.

Will it work? The attacks will be centred on airspace protection systems and they are then likely to be extended to air bases on the front line such as Sirte and Sebha, but will it stop there? Or will the temptation to move on to ‘take out’ tank columns such as those around Ajdabiya and Libyan broadcasting and communications posts prove irresistible? If so what estimate has been made of the likely civilian losses as a result of imposing the no-fly zone? Is the result of the imposition of a non fly-zone likely to lead to an escalation of the fighting on the ground? Will we have the time to gather sufficient intelligence in order for the strikes to be effective and casualties minimised? Will an attack on Libya by forces portrayed as being ‘Western’ and motives being attributed to ‘oil’ (Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa) galvanise support around the current despotic regime allowing them to cling onto power for longer. If so, where does that leave the over-arching demand of UN Resolution 1973 namely ‘the duty above all to protect the civilian population’?

If not this, then what? Am I suggesting that we stand idly by whilst civilians are killed in Libya? No. I am suggesting that we exhaust or at least try the non-violent options available first: We seize the window of the ceasefire to allow the African Union and the Envoy to begin their dialogue with both sides. Meanwhile, we go ahead with freezing the funds of Qadhafi and turning off the flow of oil revenues which are being used to fund his mercenary army; we stop the flow of arms into Libya by imposing a naval blockade and urge the Arab League to put pressure on Algeria and Syria in particular to stop arming the Tripoli regime; we keep the ban on all flights out of the country; we provide immediate humanitarian aid to rebel held areas; and use offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt his communications and military systems.

Conclusion: In the current febrile political atmosphere stirred by media reports and public outrage to urge a ‘pause for thought’ is a dangerous path for any politician to tread, especially one loyal to the Coalition government and especially loyal to our prime minister, foreign and defence secretaries who are men of colossal intellect and integrity who will be wrestling with the enormity of these decisions and I don’t envy them that. We always hesitant to question our political and military leaders because we don’t want to be disloyal, give comfort to our opponents, or appear to be wavering in our support for our armed forces ahead of a potentially dangerous mission. Moreover, we assume that the quality of their information, understanding of the situation on the ground and experience is so vastly superior to our own that we should simply fall in to line. Yet if the events of Iraq have taught us anything it is that it is not only right to question of leaders at times of international crisis such as these it is our duty so to do.

21 comments for “Give Time for Truce in Tripoli

  1. Carl.H
    19/03/2011 at 2:23 pm

    Peace in our time ?

    I think not Lord Bates.

    Gadaffi is using Mercenaries, lots of them, arms supplied by other Nations who are also suspect. They are without doubt guilty of torture and murder in the extremes and you would like to give them time to clear up or hang on to power, whilst more women and children are murdered.

    You appear to have little empathy for individuals, I expect seeing them as just numbers. I’m afraid I’m not of you ilk, that is watching someone be murdered in the street whilst awaiting the arrival of the correct authority.

    There is little comparison to Iraq in this situation and well you know it but it gives you something tocling to. I hope your children or grandchildren never end in the situation similar to the people suffering at the hands of Gaddafi where a Politician is sitting saying lets see how it pans out.

    We have a chance now to bring back some of reputation after Iraq and help the free arab people. If you wish to sit on the sidelines like a scared sheep, you’re welcome it’s what a lot of the German people did circa 1938-1945.

    I note your willingness to listen to Brazil, after all they are tantamount to everything aren’t they ?

    Or perhaps you’re more than happy to follow Germany knowing Gadaffi will not heed any words.

    “This dictator must end his civil war, his war against his own people,” Westerwelle said”.

    The Gadaffi Government stated clearly on TV, they will go house to house and search out each and everyone of the rebels. What do think that meant? How do you think the few rebels who confessed on TV were treated ?

    Am I suggesting that we stand idly by whilst civilians are killed in Libya? No. I am suggesting that we exhaust or at least try the non-violent options available first:

    Whilst you exhaust your peaceful options hundreds are dying, more I expect being tortured and executed. This is Gadaffi the leader who states a great deal of his Country is on drugs supplied by Al-Quiada. Who says he will wipe out all rebels and anyone of that ilk. The man who is looking to find the chinks in the armour of the UN. The man whose latest statement says his regime have never, will never fire one bullet against the Libyan people.

    According to reports Gadaffi forces are still fighting, still pushing forward. There is no ceasefire.

    • Twm O'r Nant
      23/03/2011 at 2:02 pm

      little empathy for individuals, I expect seeing them as just numbers. I’m afraid I’m not of you ilk,

      Carl is speaking to an experienced politician attempting to provide political answers. You are not! Go there; do that!

  2. Forlornehope
    19/03/2011 at 2:28 pm

    Good for you; let’s pause for thought while the blood soaked tyrant’s tanks run riot in the streets of Benghazi.

    “If it were done, when tis done, then twere well it were done quickly!”

  3. Matt
    19/03/2011 at 5:59 pm

    Given that Cameron and his ilk voted in support of Blair, in the Iraq/Afghanistan ‘adventures’, I simply do not trust him to adhere to the strict terms of the UN’s decisions. That is my major worry.

  4. Gareth Howell
    19/03/2011 at 7:35 pm

    What we are witnessing in Libya today is the beginnings of a civil war in Libya.

    What historical evidence does the noble lord Bates have for this theory? I certainly don’t have any but Know little about Libya. It first became important in 1955 when oil was discovered there in great quantity.

    Protecting the civilian population of a Sovereign state is not our concern, other than our own.

    We can object to it loudly, but to participate is not our concern.

    his mercenary army; we stop the flow of arms into Libya by imposing a naval blockade and urge the Arab League

    His mercenary army being men of another Arab league state, or from the Sub Saharan states on the southern edge?

    May the EU high representative indeed urge the Arab league to do whatever it can to pacify the situation.

    We seize the window of the ceasefire to allow the African Union and the Envoy to begin their dialogue with both sides.

    Another cool idea from lord Bates. all these things are done on a supranational/International government basis these days. It is the only way.

    The African Union to start talks straight away.

    I am all for peace and pacifism, and now is no exception.

    Airspace problems may well be part of the cause for the no fly zone.

    The second provision was to send a Special Envoy to Libya, who, along with a High-Level Committee of the African Union would facilitate a dialogue between the parties towards a ‘peaceful and sustainable solution’—as of now that Envoy and Committee have not commenced their work.

    OK I’ll go; I’ll go but I shall have to take the noble Lord Bates with me and Jon Simpson too. It would probably be in reverse order but the principles enunciated above are the right ones!

  5. Gareth Howell
    19/03/2011 at 7:56 pm

    The noble Lord Anderson would do good too!

  6. Gareth Howell
    19/03/2011 at 8:50 pm

    Brazil, China, Germany, India and Russia. Speaking afterwards the leader of the Brazilian delegation at the UN said, “We are not convinced that the use of force as provided for in operative paragraph 4 of the present resolution will lead to the realization of our common objective

    My own recent reading of South american political opinion is that they are quite the most objective in the world about current middle east/European/Us relations. The truths which emanate from the pen of the Ecuadorian President (a Harvard graduate)
    are quite extraordinary.

    However China and Russia are better known as Eurasia as a bloc these days, and Germany has historical reasons for no supporting a no-fly zone.

    Old historical reasons: Germany
    More recent historical ambitions:Russia
    future ambition: China!
    India may just be a foible of Gandhian pacifism too!

    However looking at the international groupings we now have the following:

    Eurasia (Against)
    EU
    AU (African Union)
    AL Arab League

    Germany of the EU is against it, and spoke out.

    The Arab League countries seem to be in favour, led by the Saudis. (The conflict in Bahrain edges on ECO, Iran).

    What of the African Union?

    The ECO interest is non existent, except that Turkey sets a very benign diverse democratic example.

  7. Gareth Howell
    19/03/2011 at 8:59 pm

    http://www.euractiv.com/en/global-europe/african-union-speaks-libya-message-west-expected-analysis-503032

    However looking at the international groupings we now have the following:

    Eurasia (Against; China+Russia)
    EU
    AU (African Union)
    AL Arab League
    NATO
    ECO (peripheral)

    What would happen if the Russians threatened to invade Azerbaijan, a UK owned colony, in Russia’s yard?

  8. MilesJSD
    milesjsd
    20/03/2011 at 2:03 am

    Hello Lord Bates; I sense a problem with you, including an enthymeme (missing argumentation); therefore

    since the three basic principles of honest-two-way communication and argumentation always bear frequent repeating:

    1. Be clear (Clarity): your presentation is enthymemously vapid, in not soberly appreciating the core protestational versus persecutional facts both on the ground and in the historical & human-intellect contexts.

    2. Be charitable (Charity): you need to recognise your opponents’ needs-&-affordable-hows, communications, and honest-reasonings.

    3. Be self-corrigible (Self-Correction):
    ……….. (this we now humbly await).

    ===============
    0203Sn200311.JSDM.

  9. maude elwes
    20/03/2011 at 9:21 am

    Oh, how quickly fools can be bought.

    Can you not see this is a set up? Has been a set up from day one. And I was right, the no fly zone lasted just as long as it took to launch and attack.

    But, then, of course, none of you are out there fighting. And won’t be, no matter the outcome.

    We are simply paying taxes to support military adventures. And the more you give the more they will march on the rest of the world with new made canon. Paid for by us.

  10. Dave H
    20/03/2011 at 1:59 pm

    It’s interesting that we have money to start a new war in Libya but not to spend on our own libraries and other public services in the UK.

    Perhaps the cost should be met from the existing overseas aid budget, seeing as that escaped cuts.

    • MilesJSD
      milesjsd
      20/03/2011 at 11:45 pm

      Dave H,
      it is very much like a family father or mother having stocked-up against adversity, and also owning a large ‘private’-car and caravan in order to make fullest possible use of their and their children’s and extended family’s annual holidays;
      they have bought it, now they must maintain it and, to avoid embarassing blushes and a bombed-out long-term strategic budget, use it.
      We’d call that dominantly a Method I Solution (the sort of Problem where the Parents/Employers/Government dominantly wins).

      Method II (the children/employees/subjects usually win) might see those children having bought-up camping-gear, bicyles, baseball bats, paintball-guns …and of course they’ve ‘got’ to use them.

      Method III (win-win-win, every affected party to the Problem participates ‘no-competitive/comparitive advantages’ in finding a solution whereby each party gets there most basic need met) …
      this latter, however, is still something of a ‘pipe-dream’ I fear
      ——-
      2345Sn200311.JSDM.

    • maude elwes
      21/03/2011 at 2:01 pm

      As interesting is the fact that the Arab nations have a financial purse bigger than ours by a long shot. And they agree, yes, we can go to war, at our own expense, with Gaddafi, but, they are keeping their military arsenal in tact.

      Now why do you think that is? No Arabs on the ground there then and no Arabs fighting for the cause.

      Not too worried about the dying innocent from that area. Even though they are Islamic.

  11. MilesJSD
    milesjsd
    20/03/2011 at 1:59 pm

    Lord Bates, you have some good information and some right reasoning:

    such as that the UN, in addition to giving first priority to both a no-fly-zone over libya and all other necessary force (to protect Libyan people) except military ground-incursion or -invasion,
    gave second priority to the sending of a special envoy to the Gaddafi-regime in Tripoli to ‘make peace’;

    but you have some bad or ‘non’ information and some wrong reasoning such as, by implication, that the UN Resolution 1973’s first priority of protecting Libyan people ((specificly by both a no-fly-zone militarily-enforceable and by Other Necessary Means (except incursion by ground-troops) )) should be immediately ‘frozen’ whilst priority-two(2) the Special Envoy is assembled and organised and briefed, and put into communication with the Gaddafi-regime in Tripoli (and presumably top-priority therein with Gaddafi himself), and whilst all other and available non-violent options are gone-through;

    but the latter can not includecertain wholly non-violent & co-constructive means such as Friendly Method III Needs-&-Hows-Recognition and Affordable-Determination,
    nor Win-Win-Win Method III Cooperative Problem Solving –

    if only because Britain has never established either of these kindreds not even as a first resort,
    and neither has any other Nation-State,
    nor even the United Nations(tates) –

    so it becomes highly-urgent and very much top-priority, for such a high-level strategic communique as this one of yours, to tell us by title-description what other and available non-violent options could be timely-implemented

    because we can see none;
    nor are lords, baronesses, nor responsible & believable politicians, nor our News media, nor our Neighbours, telling us of any such.

    But my citizen’s-say time is more than up – so fast-forward please to your conclusion: just two more of many points that can not be squeezed into this one posting,): –

    (a) that any politician can be of “colossal intellect and integrity” is the oxymoron of the millennium

    (b) that “we always hesitate to question our political and military leaders” (qua ‘commanders’ or at least ‘initiators’) “because…their…understanding…is so vastly superior to our own… yet it is not only right to question our leaders,,,it is our duty so to do”
    is as inconsistent with your and Britain’s governance-class-in general ‘s constitution-, legislation-, regulation-, policy- making, and conduct
    in times of hot-conflict such as this one in Libya, as it is throughout the in-between long-years of cool-peacetime, such as the last several decades when you-and-the-establishment could have been pre-paring in Britain a better peace, and through the privilege and responsibility we enjoy of our now world-informing-and-managing English language, for an even better and world-wide-distributed Peace.

    ========
    1359SN200311.JSDM.

    yyyyyyyyyyy
    Lord Bates, you have some good information and some right reasoning:

    such as that the UN, in addition to giving first priority to both a no-fly-zone over Libya and all other necessary force (to protect Libyan peoples) except military ground-incursion or -invasion,
    gave second priority to the sending of a Special Envoy to the Gaddafi-Regime in Tripoli to ‘make peace’;

    but you have some bad or ‘non’ information and some wrong reasoning, such as by implication that the UN Resolution 1973’s first priority of Protecting Libyan people (specificly by both a no-fly-zone military-enforcement and by all other means (except incursion by ground-troops) should be immediately ‘frozen’ whilst priority two the Special Envoy is assembled and organised and briefed and put into communication with the Gaddafi-Regime in Tripoli (and presumably top-priority with Gaddafi himself), and whilst all other and available non-violent options are gone-through

    (the latter can not include Friendly Method III Needs-&-Hows-Recognition and Determination nor win-win-win Method III Cooperative Problem Solving – if only because Britain has never established it as a first resort, and neither has any other Nation-State, nor even the United Nations(tates) – )s

    so it becomes highly-urgent and very much top-priority for such a high-level strategic communique as this one of yours to tell us what other and available non-violent options could be timely-implemented

    because we can see none, nor are other lords, baronesses and responsible/believable politicians, nor our News media, nor Neighbours, telling us of any such.

    (Our time is up – so fast-forward to your conclusion, very briefly please) –

    (a) that any politician can be of “colossal intellect and integrity” is the oxymoron of the millennium
    (b) that “we always hesitate to question our political and military leaders” (qua ‘commanders’ or at least ‘initiators’) “because…their…understanding…is so vastly superior to our own… Yet it is not only right to question our leaders,,,it is our duty so to do” is as inconsistent with your and our governance-class-in general ‘s constitution, legislation, regulation -making
    and conduct in times of hot-conflict such as this one in Libya as it is throughout the in-between decades of cool-peacetime, such as the last ten years when you-and-the-establishment could have been pre-paring in Britain a better peace and through the Privilege and Responsibility we enjoy of our now world-informing-and-managing English language, for an even better and world-wide-distributed Peace
    ========

  12. Baroness Murphy
    Baroness Murphy
    21/03/2011 at 8:29 am

    Well said, Lord Bates, I agree.

  13. 21/03/2011 at 1:51 pm

    Lord Bates,

    I’m not unsympathetic to some of the points you make. Inevitably the addition of military conflict to the situation will make the eventual resolution messier and full of contradictions and comprise.

    However as the stated objective of the UN resolution is to enable the protection of civilians it seems the definition of a civilian is important. Does a civilian who has been attacked by their own government loose their status if they pick up weapon to defend themselves?

    While the firepower of the allies can no doubt do a lot to deter the advancing tanks and destroy artillery positions they are less effective against armed men in an urban setting. Are we advising the citizens of Benghazi to lay down their arms before they can benefit from the somewhat limited air-cover the allies can provide?

  14. Gareth Howell
    21/03/2011 at 8:21 pm

    The answer to the question “Where will it all end?” (now it has started) is the same as happened to Saddam Hussein.

    Qhaddafi, and probably the rest of his family too will be lynched,just like Saddam,and then the world may enjoy the spectacle of an elected senate/congress in the same way as in Iraq, with the humdrum and uninspiring leader that they do have.

    Qhaddafi will probably spare the world the brief spectacle of a dignified end.

    It may not take as long as the ten years that the no fly zone in Iraq did take, ten years.

    The movements for democracy in neighbouring countries may well hasten his end, and the resolve of the “Allies” to defeat him, occupation or no occupation.

    At the moment it is just No-fly.

    The time is right for diverse democracy in the Arab league states, and Qhaddafi will not be able to resist it any longer.

  15. ZAROVE
    22/03/2011 at 4:48 am

    personally, i think its long overdue. Gaddafi should have been handled by Sterling, back in 1969. he wasn’t.

    He is nothing but a usurper, not a Legitimate Ruler, and has no redeeming qualities in his reign. He needs to be ousted and True Governance restored to Libya. Though in our age, I doubt the Prince Hussein will be restored.

  16. maude elwes
    22/03/2011 at 3:14 pm

    What I found as an amazing outcome was the amount of ‘yes’ votes. In favour of war. Whilst we are barely over Iraq, still in Afghanistan and contemplating (Tony Blair at the Iraq hearing pushing to bomb Iran) Iran.

    I hope the electorate will take a long hard look at what their MP spends the public money on. And take this into account when they are asked to select him/her again.

    This war mongering appears to have escalated from Margaret Thatcher with the Falklands 1982. Then the Gulf War. Then Iraq followed by Afghanistan, followed by Libya.

    We are trailing the American tax payer into the kind of poverty they experience. Our pensions are disappearing, our children have to pay for education, our benefits are being wiped out, our libraries closing, our money is given to Banks who fiddle and then pay themselves millions in bonuses they don’t deserve. I could make a list a long as my arm. Yet, we find money to save these souls elsewhere, whilst our own souls are not as equal as others. Even though the British are the milking cow.

    And who is making all the war money? Arms cost an absolute fortune. It was said that one plane alone costs £45,000 an hour to fly. And they remain in the air ad infinitum. How many fighters do we have in the air in a twenty four hour period? How long is this going to last?

    Take that in Afghanistan we are running a war without reason. Except, we are told, to help Muslim women have a better life. Iraq was because we had WMD pointing at us. Now it is to save the rebels from Gaddafi.

    Yet our people here are getting less and less to live on and less and less care. But, it is the British tax payer that is footing this vast bill.

    Welfare dodgers should be welcomed after this con.

  17. Gareth Howell
    22/03/2011 at 7:26 pm

    How many fighters do we have in the air in a twenty four hour period?

    8. Five phantoms and three tornados.

    1 tornado had a special use. I did not quite hear what.

    They fly in formation, and are based in southern Italy. Their purpose is to strike fear, and they are succeeding.

    Watch the Red Arrows when you are on vacation
    and you will find that the whole crowd genuflects at a certain point.

    They do any way but they do for the Red Arrows too.

    They have been doing more than that in Libya,
    this week, I can tell you that.

  18. maude elwes
    23/03/2011 at 4:17 pm

    @Gareth H:

    Thanks for the info.

    From what I have heard, the cost is galling. Yet, we have to remove benefits from our poor, increase the retirement age, cut back on police, cut back on health care, withdraw new building from schools, charge our children for university, sell off our ports to foreign bidders, and on and on and on.

    Yet, here we are funding war at £3,000,000 a day for those who are unconnected to us and not on their way to attack our country.

    And adding insult to injury, these MP’S voted for this with barely any opposition. This just goes prove how out of touch with the British voter they are. Wouldn’t that be an indication that somehow we have to look for a better way to find people to represent us in future. Remember, these MP’s came from all sides of the House. How did they get elected?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/libya-costing-britain-3-million-a-day-2249628.html

Comments are closed.