Monday, March 21, 2011


The whole world watches astoundingly as the US-led Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya enters its third day today. American tomahawk missiles and British and French bombers are launching strike after strike on the Libyan soil from military bases in and around the Mediterranean sea. Consecutive to the air strikes, this is what a very defiant and recalcitrant Gaddafi had to say , “All Libyans are armed with weapons and are ready for battle. They will not be able to enjoy our oil. We will not leave it for them. They have to know that we will fight.We will fight inch by inch. We promise a long war. This aggression has no justification.”

Talking of justification, let’s have the explanations and the reasons that America and its allies have been citing for these air strikes. Interestingly, the Americans are refraining from calling it an all out American assault. They are preferring to call it “a UN-sanctioned multilateral international effort to allay the humanitarian crisis in Libya”. The American and British political think tank, in the same breath , sets the overthrowing of “the very repressive regime of the Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi” as the coveted outcome and target of Operation Odyssey Dawn. Former US Under Secretary of State, Richard Nicholas Burns recently remarked, “If Gaddafi wins in Libya (against the rebels) , we face serious concerns of terrorism .” Mr Burns, in his statement, thus, clearly outlines the end game here, end of Gaddafi, i.e., a full on military intervention involving ground troops in the days to come. In other words, another occupation, another invasion.

According to Libyan State TV, dozens have been killed in the coalition air strikes along the northern Libyan coastline, in crucial centres of Benghazi, Misrata and Tripoli.
What then about the civilian lives and interests that President Obama and his brothers in arms, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain’s David Cameron have set out to protect? It is being claimed that the coalition air strikes are only targeting Gaddafi’s armed installations and trying to cut off logistical support to his troops. We’ve heard similar assertions in the past too, claims of protecting civilian interests, of addressing a looming humanitarian crisis preceding gory and destructive assaults . We saw this first in case of Afghanistan and then in Iraq. We have seen these onslaughts resulting not only in countless civilian casualties and serious loss of property but also leading to never ending chaotic situations in these countries.

Gaddafi’s statement after the coalition strikes also refers to Libya’s vast oil wealth and the allies’ eye on it. Many Latin American governments friendly to Gaddafi have
supported this argument. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said on state television recently, “ They want to seize Libya’s oil.” There have been similar statements from
Cuba , Nicaragua and Bolivia too. The oil factor cannot be overlooked considering the fact that Libya is among the world’s largest oil economies with approximately 3.5% of global oil reserves, more than twice that of the US. With 44.3 billion barrels of proven reserves (10 times those of Egypt), Libya is the largest oil economy in the African continent followed by Nigeria and Algeria. Around 80% of Libyan oil exports are to Europe, 10% to China and 5% to the United States. Quite curious, therefore, was the manner in which French President Nicolas Sarkozy rushed at recognizing the rebel council in the Libyan region of Benghazi, which, incidentally has most of Libya’s oil reserves.

And as the crisis in the Mediterranean enters its most dangerous phase , America and its allies find themselves more and more isolated internationally. India, for once, has shown considerable maturity in its approach towards the issue .It not only abstained from voting on the UN-sponsored resolution of securing a no-flying zone in Libya, but has also, along with Russia, come out strongly against the air strikes . The Arab league has also opposed air strikes on Libya, saying that it had given initial support only to a no-flying zone and not to the bombing of the Libyan territory. This, indeed , has come as a big jolt to America and its allies, who had so far boasted of the Arab support as the one most crucial factor that set this assault apart from the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

1 comment:

हाका हुम्बा (हल्ला गुल्ला) said...

very well researched article mam.. i m 100% agree with ur lines.."leading to never ending chaotic situations in these countries." US is there in the role of international policeing and decider of legitimacy once again. hmm we must appreciate role of India this time.