The people of Libya, perhaps inspired by the freedom fighters who recently removed an oppressive government in Egypt, began their revolution last week as a “Day of Rage.” Since then, the anger and dedication to remove Libyan “Superman” Gadhafi have escalated to the point where now hundreds of thousands of the people of Libya are rioting in the streets in a show of defiance and are calling for the removal of the long endured Gadhafi regime.
The world we know has been shaken with revolution. Students, adults, families, throughout the nations of Northern Africa and the Near East are determined to achieve freedom and democracy. In many instances, as in Egypt, seated governments have resisted the impulse to forcefully quell these demonstrators. This has not been the case in Libya. Pro-government forces have distributed weapons, called in outside pro-government enforcers, and have sent standing armies to fire into crowds, bomb and conflagrate, and to put a halt to protesting citizens at any expense. Speaking in the Libyan capital city of Tripoli’s Green Square on Thursday, Muammar Gadhafi told a throng of loyalists that he will continue to arm his supporters to fight opposition forces, and that “all the weapon stores will be opened.”
In an article printed in the Tripoli Post, Today, Saturday, February 26, our American President Obama, standing shoulder to shoulder with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, made an initial response to the Libyan crisis. Obama said, “The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and unacceptable…this violence must stop.” The president was forceful, “The Libyan Government must be held accountable. The entire world is watching.” He accused the government of Libya of violating international norms, and “Every standard of common decency.” Obama said that human rights, the right to free speech, freedom of peaceful assembly, and the right to determine one’s own destiny, are not negotiable.
The president said his highest priority is protection of American citizens in the trouble stricken area. Obama blamed “al-Gadhafi” for the carnage. President Obama said he was gratified and encouraged by the strong positions taken by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and other international organizations.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that at least a thousand people have died in the Libyan struggle. United Nations Security Council members are meeting and communicating electronically to discuss the next options. United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron has been in conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi. Britain and France on Thursday were developing a resolution to impose an arms embargo on Libya. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, in opposition to the majority, says that political unity may be difficult to achieve, and further says that he will oppose sanctions.
The American position at the Security Council is that the allies should work together to quell the violence without military intervention. French President Nicolas Sarkozy says “It’s time for Gadhafi to go.” Even as Gadhafi was pledging in Green Square to open weapon stores, Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Shalgham, pleaded for the Security Council to act and “save Libya.” Libya’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, said yesterday he expects “thousands” more fatalities.
By Friday, February 26, the United States had closed its embassy in Tripoli and imposed, with the United Nations, unilateral sanctions against Libya. The United Nations Security Council was moving forward to impose further international sanctions, including an arms embargo, and an asset freeze and travel ban against Gadhafi, his relatives and key members of his government. Diplomats from the United States, France, Germany and Britain were calling for the International Criminal Court to investigate possible crimes by Gadhafi and Libya against humanity.
Simultaneously, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan, accused the international community of being more concerned with oil concerns than with “conscience, justice, laws and universal human values.” Libyan Ambassador Mohammed Shalgham continued his break with the Libyan government, and said “I tell you, my brother Gadhafi, leave the Libyans alone!”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “Colonel Gadhafi has lost the confidence of his people. His legitimacy has been reduced to zero.” “Colonel Gadhafi, he said, “is becoming increasingly erratic …and even more bizarre. He [Gadhafi] accuses the protestors of being on drugs.” “The United States,” Carney said, “Has few contacts deep inside the Libyan government, and little personal sway with its leadership.” He said that responses and sanctions “take time to put in place.”
The United Nations Security Council responds to threats against peace by recommendations to the parties in an effort to reach agreement by peaceful means. When a dispute leads to fighting, the council’s first concern is to bring an end as soon as possible. On many occasions, the council has issued cease-fire directives which have been instrumental in preventing wider hostilities. The council also sends United Nations peace-keeping forces to help reduce tensions in troubled areas, keep opposing forces apart, and create conditions of calm in which peaceful settlements may be sought. The council may decide on enforcement measures, economic sanctions such as trade embargoes or collective military action.