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Gadaffi: A Hunter Hunted By His Own Shadows, But...

--Cutting-Edge Analytics--


By: Franklin Otorofani
 Published March 28th, 2011

As Allied bombers and US Tomahawk Cruise missiles rain bombs on his tiny nation with some hitting home in “Operation Odyssey Dawn”, it is perhaps fair to say that Muammar Gadaffi is probably negotiating his last days on earth much like late Saddam Hussein of Iraq. That, however, is not a dead certainty  as such but a statement of probability as events unfold in this beleaguered African nation, for it is not written anywhere that Saddam’s fate should become Ghadaffi’s inheritance unless he chooses to appropriate it himself through acts of foolhardiness.

However, hard as I tried not to, it is difficult not to react with a sense of elation at the sudden fate that has befallen the Libyan strongman, who has dominated his tiny nation for 46 odd years with a record of brutality, state sponsored assassinations of opponents in foreign lands and sponsor of political crisis across North and West Africa in Sudan, Chad, Niger Republics and, perhaps in Northern Nigeria as well where extremely violent Islamic fundamentalism has become a permanent scourge. Please permit me to repeat that. I said perhaps in Northern Nigeria as well because in his morbid desire to expand his tiny enclave to match his territorial ambitions, and admittedly towering Pan Africanist image, the man has been fingered severally in literarily every national crisis in parts of Africa in the past decades and has not hidden his evil designs on Nigeria in particular. But the point is that all of the crisis he had been fomenting and sponsoring abroad have now come back home to claim his regime because whatever goes around comes around.  

Even so the question could be posed as to why Africa should be happy at all at the pummeling of her otherwise illustrious son by the West? Or, put alternatively, why should Africa be happy at the bombing of an African nation by the West? The answer to the first question should read like this: although the African culture permits a father to discipline his child, which by the way I find more realistic than the Western culture which would term such parental discipline as “child abuse” the culture does not permit such a father to “kill” the child or inflict grievous bodily harm on the child. That is not permitted and wherever and whenever it occurs the community is absolutely at liberty to intervene on behalf of the child by reining in the abusive father. Gadaffi, as the father of Libyans, has been accused of killing Libyans, his supposed children and he needed to be reined in through communal intervention and the UN is the global community, in this case. The answer to the second question is self-evident and contained in the answer to the first, and that is to say, communal intervention is justified in the circumstances.  

Therefore, I would ask, why not? The fact of the matter is that much as Africans in general detest military intervention in the continent by the West under any guise whatsoever, very few people would want to shed a tear for Gaddaffi due to the murderous brutality he had visited on his hapless people who are only calling for his resignation as has been happening in the Arab world in the past few months. It would be extremely naive to imagine that the wind of change blowing across North Africa and Middle East would pass Gadaffi's Libya by or make a detour and and go someplace else. There is no Arab nation that has been spared of the protests including even Saudi Arabia, the Holy land that is even more conservative than Libya. And if political reforms are needed anywhere in North Africa, Libya is it. What happened in Egypt and Tunisia should have begun in Libya. 

Therefore, if we all subscribe to the philosophical underpinnings of the revolutions sweeping across North Africa, which demand rather impatiently, that rule by force must be replaced with rule by consent of the people; and if we all agree that the Libyan people, just like other Arab nationals under subjection of tyranny, are thereby entitled to demand the ouster of their oppressor, it follows then that any international efforts primarily aimed at unseating him would be welcome with open arms by democrats, in Africa, which notably, has been moving away from dictatorships. In this regard the person of Muammar Gadaffi counts for less, because he is just one individual out of several million Libyans, who rose to power through a military coup. He was just like every other colonel in the Libyan army with no divine right to rule. His regime was an imposition as no one made him king over Libya. Rather he imposed himself on his hapless people whom he had visited with extreme brutality. And having lost all fears that had been holding them back all this while from freeing themselves from this tyrant, and having been inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, the people of Libya are now demanding to have their country back which Gadaffi had stolen from them for keeps some 46 years ago. Isn’t it about time they did that at this historical opportunity? Sure it is and they needed help wherever it could be found even if it’s from the West when they suddenly found themselves at the mercy of the tyrant.

Gadaffi's life is not more important than the lives of those he had murdered in cold blood without recourse to law. Every life is as important as the other, and though a soldier, he has no monopoly of the instruments of violence. That is the message being delivered to him, unfortunately, by the West rather than by Africa itself, because the AU is not in a position to act decisively, militarily, as we have seen time and again in the continent which the current stalemate in Ivory Coast exemplifies. If Libya was a country in Europe such as was the case in the Balkans, it would have fallen on NATO and NATO alone to do the job. But Africa is no Europe and it has no NATO. Therefore, it could not do the job all by itself. And that left the job for the UN Security Council which incidentally is dominated by the West. But is that a reason to reject help from the UN just because it is controlled by the West? Is that a reason to look the other way with Gadaffi’s murderous campaign going on? Is that a reason to abandoned Libyans to their fate? Absolutely not and that is the reality Africa and Africans must come to terms with. Both the AU and the Arab League are operating from positions of acute weaknesses and couldn’t do otherwise when confronted with determined forces from the West.  

Thus while foreign military intervention in Africa is almost a taboo at the present time, the question remains as to whether the world would be morally justified to sit idly by and watch Gaddaffi butcher his own people "with no mercy"? Obviously, the answer is in the negative. The UN would have come under withering criticisms from all quarters had it failed to move against Gadaffi. In fact, its seeming delay in acting had come under attacks from human rights groups all over the world. Therefore, not acting in the face of the looming humanitarian disaster in Libya was not an option and couldn’t have been an option. 

So what exactly should the world have done in these dire circumstances of probable genocide as was the case in Rwanda between the Hutus and the Tutsis in the 90s? Impose sanctions on the regime and go to bed while he moved to cut down his people? Well, that is not an option either, because sanctions were imposed that did nothing to deter him. He, in fact, laughed the sanctions including the freezing of Libyan assets and travel bans, to scorn. As it's characteristic of the delusionary antics of most dictators whose times had run out, Gaddaffi is still laughing the military action against him to scorn declaring that the West would become "the dustbin of history" even as he hunkers down in his compound using hapless Libyans as human shields, again, just like Saddam Hussein before him. In other words, his obstinacy in the face of repeated warnings to stop the violence justifies the global military intervention even if it was only on the basis of egregious human rights violation against the UN Charter on Human Rights. We should readily recall similar UN actions of imposition a No-fly zone in Saddam Hussein's Iraq to protect the Kurds. The UN Security Council has the unquestioned authority to act through a Resolution to prevent genocide or large scale human rights abuses such as was the case in the former Republic of Yugoslavia in the Balkans under President Slobodan Mulosevic, nicknamed "the Butcher of the Balkans" who wound up at the War Crime Tribunal in the Hague where he died. In this case the international community acted on the basis of a valid UN Resolution 1973 authorizing the use of force against Gadaffi.

The important thing to remember is that Gadaffi himself saw it coming and did nothing to avert it. On the contrary, he actively provoked it and did everything to hasten it. Rather than move proactively to engage the opposition to negotiate a peaceful and graceful exit as his peers had done in Egypt and Tunisia, and are still doing in Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Gaddaffi chose to toe the path of genocide by deploying war planes to bomb his own people to submission or out of existence. Well like I said earlier, he does not have the monopoly of violence and he has met his match this time around, which may be his last power game before going the way of Saddam Hussein. There is no basis, therefore, to question why the UN did not intervene in other nations similarly gripped by pro-democracy civil unrests in the region as some commentators appear to have done. It's like comparing apples with oranges. The fact of the matter is that Gadaffi chose the path of perdition that is markedly different from those of other leaders in the region who were faced with similar facts situations. He did not learn from them but rejected their approach to do it his own murderous way. If genocide would not provide moral and legal grounds for military intervention in a member state, then nothing would, and the UN might as well cease to exist. On that ground alone the military action against Gaddaffi is well grounded both morally and legally in international law. 

That is reason number one. Reason number two is that Gadaffi's own Arab leaders endorsed the Resolution authorizing the use of force. The Arab League gave its blessings to the action, and the efforts to get it on board partly explained the delay in acting against Gaddaffi. Need I add that our own African nation, South Africa, signed the Resolution too when countries like China, Brazil, and Russia abstained. That shows that there was a broad-based support for the military intervention even though it is still basically a Western mission. And the reason for that is due to its military superiority, as hinted earlier and nothing else. If the West was as militarily weak as Africa and the Arab world it would not have dared to show up at the table for military intervention. The reality of the international situation is that it rests on those with the military muscle to call the shots and if they fail to do so they could be prevailed upon to lead the charge as we have seen with the US President Barack Obama's initial reluctance to resort to the use of force to get Gadaffi to stop the violence but was eventually prevailed upon to act under intense pressure primarily from without. Without the US military surveillance systems to guide the bombing operations, France and Britain which were spoiling for war would not have been so eager to go to war with Libya, or Gadaffi to more precise. The West is basically US when it comes to war particularly when China and Russia are not on board as it is presently the case. Europe would dare not talk about war if there was the slightest hint of opposition from China and Russia even if it was mere abstentions from voting at the Security Council.  

Reason number three is that Gadaffi has overstayed his welcome, having oppressed his people for 46 years. Whose other dictator's records does he want to break? Is Libya his family's estate? The fate that befell Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak in his own neighborhood should have advised him that the chickens would be coming home to roost pretty soon in his country. But he took no heed deluding himself that he was “loved” by his people. Must he die in power? There is not a single dictator left on the African continent except in North Africa, which is a shame indeed. As I wrote in another piece at the onset of these uprisings in North Africa, AU would be better off without the likes of Gaddaffi sitting at the same table with democratically elected leaders even if through imperfect elections. Imperfect elections are a whole lot better than no elections at all and the imperfect could be made perfect in the course of time with sustained democratic elections as it's happening in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Angola, Liberia, etc.

Reason number four and this is the one that really touched me personally: Gadaffi richly deserves what has come to him and his country for having the audacity to wish Nigeria a break up back in 2010 in the heat of the Yar'Adua illness crisis that hit the nation. It would be recalled that Gadaffi vented his envious disposition toward the size and might of Nigeria by publicly advocating the break-up of the country along religious lines of Christian/Moslem over a minor dispute about handing over to a vice president. How am I supposed to shed tears for the fall of a man who advocated the break-up of my country with the resultant civil war that it would have entailed? Now, what he wished for Nigeria has come to hunt his own country with Libya now effectively divided into two countries having Tripoli and Benghazi as their respective headquarters! That's why it is not a good idea to wish evil on another especially one so close as Nigeria is to Libya as fellow African nation. This is a major reason why I would not shed a tear for Muammar Gadaffi and the fate that has befallen his country. Yes, it is that personal to me having observed the antics of the “mad man” in my continental neighborhood for quite some time now. Let's be clear about this lest some revisionists begin to bandy some historical fallacies around as facts. It was not the military intervention by the West that divided his country. The country had been divided by the rebels long before the UN moved in to impose a No-fly zone and the bombings began. In other words, Ghadaffi's own evil wish for Nigeria had materialized in his own country before the military action against him by the UN. The morale: Do not wish anyone what you would not wish yourself because it just might come back to hunt you. And Gadaffi is one more example of that time honored advice that he had failed to heed.

With that said, I'm a still a little conflicted about the whole game. I must confess this that I still harbor some residual aversion to Western military intervention in any part of Africa without the full imprimatur of the AU even in this case. It makes little difference whether it is Libya or someplace else on the continent. And here I'm talking not about Gadaffi as such but about the country, Libya, which must be divorced from its megalomaniac ruler. When I checked the map of the African continent and found the country named Libya on it to the North-side of it, it riles me up that Europe is bombing it. That aversion, acquired through Africa's history of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles is welling up in me even as I detest Gadaffi and his murderous game, particularly when colonial Europe is involved led by Britain and France. I know the United States is in this for purely humanitarian reasons, which is quite commendable in the circumstances and she has not exhibited the type of zealousness that is associated with France, for instance. However, the fact that the Arab League gave its full backing to the military operation against Gadaffi complicates matters and has softened my objections somewhat, for Libya is only geographically African but ethnologically Arabian.

Even so, the apparent glee and undue haste with which France rushed to recognize the balkanization of Libya by the rebels was uncalled for and probably speaks of some other ulterior motives on the part of France, in particular. France has not shown any noticeable restraints and caution in its desire to tear the nation apart. Not even Iraq and Afghanistan with full-blown civil wars were subjected to such balkanization with foreign powers recognizing rebel governments. Why would France alone and no other nation recognize the rebel government based in Benghazi? To what end is that recognition? Was it to divide the country into two? Who are these rebels to begin with and what exactly are they after? Is it to divide the country into two or to liberate the entire country from Gadaffi? If the latter is their motive let it be but if the former is the case, I have a problem with that. And what was the targeting and bombing of Gadaffi's compound all about? Was it to kill him without due process of law? The United States has a law prohibiting the assassination of foreign leaders. Why would it be privy to the bombing of Gadaffi’s home? The man might have been accused of horrendous crimes against humanity but those accusations have not been proved in a court of law and so they remain what they are—allegations. And no assassination could be legally and morally founded on allegations and reports, or at all. Assassination is murder. Period! Civilized behaviors abhor eye-for-an eye type jurisprudence. Even Saddam Hussein was availed of the legal process to defend himself in court of law in accordance with all due process observed. Gadaffi's case should be no exception. As the rebels have themselves demanded, no harm should befall the person of Gadaffi but must be brought to justice in a court of law where the case(s) against him should be officially laid out for the world to see. Assassination is out of the question.  

It seems to me, therefore, that France harbors some motives that are completely at variance with its human rights pretensions which it is using as a convenient pretext to execute its sinister designs on the continent. This view is informed in part by the role of France in seeking to divide Nigeria during the Nigerian Civil War that began in 1967 and ended in 1970. Before the first bullet was fired France had quickly accorded Biafra its recognition just as it did the rebels in Libya rather than helping to end the civil war on mutually agreeable terms because of its desire to cut Big Nigeria to size to spite the British. And just like the case in Libya, France was the only major power to do so. If France had had its way perhaps she would have succeeded in annexing Biafra to Cameroun and Nigeria would have lost one of the most industrious, technologically and artistically advanced ethnic groups in Africa to Cameroun in addition to the loss of Southern Cameroun in the pre-independence plebiscite.

France is also behind the incessant provocations of Nigeria by Cameroun with her gendarmes invading Nigeria with the apparent backing of France that is seeking to provoke a war between both nations that she hopes could result in Nigeria’s break-up. That is the track record of France with regard to Nigeria right from the time of Ahmadu Ahidjo to his successor, Paul Biya. By the way too many countries are looking for Nigeria’s break-up but it’s not happening and will not happen any time soon or at all, and so they try to chip away at her territory from the edges with some little success as evidenced in the loss of Bakassi.

France has her fingerprints written all over Nigeria's loss of Bakassi to Cameroun. She fought Nigeria all the way at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague on the side of Cameroun, determined to cut her to size. Therefore, in this military operation against Gadaffi, desirable as it is, Africa must keep a watchful eye on France because it has demonstrated its usual overzealousness in the break-up of African nations. It is obvious to the discerning that France is acting as though it had an axe to grind with Libya, not even Gadaffi alone. She has demonstrated a measure of military and diplomatic aggression over and above that of other coalition members that is not otherwise explicable in terms of Gadaffi's intransigence alone but most likely in terms of her imperial designs and selfish motivations. Bombing Gadaffi's compound cannot in any shape or form be interpreted as enforcement of a UN-imposed No-fly zone nor is the recognition of rebel government in Benghazi. How could a democratic nation recognize an unelected, rag tag rebel government? On what basis was that recognition? That act alone has exposed the evil machinations of France. As such, this writer is calling on both the AU and Arab League to closely review the role of France in this operation in Libya so far with a view to calling her to order before her plans are fully executed, by which time it might be too late to correct anything untoward, because what lies ahead is more than what has occurred so far. Gaddaffi might be a bad guy in the neighborhood and sure deserves to leave his people in peace but Libya is African and Arabian too, not Europe to test the destructive power of new European munitions. Africans and the AU must keep a close eye on France. It seems to me President Sarkozy is up to no good.

And it is not just the AU and the Arab League that should keep a watchful eye on France. The United States and Canada and indeed the other members of the coalition should be wary of France in whose name France. That nation shouldn't be allowed to commit atrocities against Libyans of its own in the name of enforcing the UN Resolution. Example: Why is it such a big problem to take out Gadaffi and close the deal without toying with civil war, having lost his legitimacy to rule? The coalition is playing with fire with its nebulous mandate. Why is the Resolution couched in such nebulous terms as to protect civilians with nothing else said about Gadaffi's ouster? Why allow him to remain in power after all these alleged atrocities to prolong the civil war that could divide the country into two? Is that the unspoken design of France that jointly drew up the Resolution? I don't get it.

And for the United States in particular that is providing the military backbone for this operation, President Obama should reach out to the Libyan leader with a view to easing him out of office through some other peaceful means, much like the Egyptian model otherwise a full blown ground war is inescapable for the coalition. Unlike France and Britain the United States is already mired in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with its own military already overstretched to breaking points. Besides, the United States cannot afford to be firing $1m-a-piece Cruise Missiles that must be replaced when it's all said and done with tax payers' money in addition to $4bn monthly tag in Afghanistan, not to talk of the unfinished business in Iraq.

So far the US has reportedly launched some 200 Cruise Missiles from its Aircraft Carriers and submarines stationed in the Mediterranean Sea hitting several Libyan targets. That is some $200m gone with the air in those strikes alone. Who is picking up the tab? Tax payers or the UN? If it is the American tax payers, where is the authorization for the war and the vote for the war bills? Constitutionally, Obama did not even obtain required congressional approval before committing the United States to war and Congress is mad as hell with the president going to war behind its back. Oh, they have tactfully avoided the word "war" in order to circumvent congressional approval.

All these considerations should advise extreme caution on the part of the government of the United States. The situation in Libya is far from certain. For one thing, despite air superiority military experts have cautioned that bombings alone would not do the job of undoing Ghadaffi and a ground operation would be inevitable in the long run. That is no good news for the war-weary United States. A third war in the Middle East? US officials have been avoiding the word "war" fearing that it might provoke hostile reactions from certain liberal quarters in view of the unfinished business in Iraq and Afghanistan, but let's call a spade by its name: it is war--and a third war at that in Arab land in less than a decade. Not good at all. And with NATO balking at assuming full command of the military action, that leaves the United States carrying the can against Libya’s ground forces. NATO has only assumed the command of the No-fly zone which is the easy part of the job. Who is going to confront Gadaffi forces on the ground? The ragtag rebel fighters or France and Britain will provide the troops outside of NATO? I fear that the United States is being wittingly and unwittingly sucked into yet another protracted military adventure abroad by France and Britain. And there is yet another danger lurking in the shadows: the use of NATO to assume full command effectively removes all pretensions of international coalition and makes it a Western invasion of an Arab country! Has anybody thought about that for a moment? Hmm! Somebody had better put his thinking cap on before more damage is done.   

With Libya already descended into a civil war and Gadaffi still commanding considerable forces on the ground and loyalty of a cross section of the Libyan population, there is no telling who would eventually prevail in the civil war, and short of the West committing ground forces Libya could easily turn into another Somalia if it has not already done so at the moment with huge implications for regional security. Even if the rebels prevail on Gadaffi it is no guarantee that peace will return to Libya anytime soon and a permanent state of war is not altogether unforeseeable. It is easy to envision that part of the world becoming a veritable no man's land and safe haven for terrorists and small arms dealers that no one is talking about at the moment. Already Libya is said to bristling with foreign mercenaries on both sides. And that spells the proliferation of small arms that could easily find their way to other parts of Africa.

The tradeoffs are simply too huge to even contemplate. There's got to be some other way out. It is up to the US government to find that way for the rest of the coalition. The way out is to take back the threat of referring Gadaffi to the War Crimes Tribunal, which reportedly has already been made against him. You don't persuade a man to step aside by first referring him to War Crimes Tribunal. I don't know what kind of strategy that is except it was designed to stiffen him from accepting to step down thus providing a pretext to launch military operations against his country. But in the end, this is a failure of the Arab League, and to a lesser extent the AU, for allowing this situation to degenerate to this extent. Both should have come out with better positions when these uprisings began. But then, who are the members of the Arab League we are talking about in the first place? Dictators, right? That alone speaks volumes, and that’s reason we are where we are today—Arabian dictators dealing with one of their kinds with the AU standing aloof and non-committal. I don’t blame it. That is the irony of history.

From the stable of –Cutting-Edge Analytics-- More than a Blog, It’s a Learning Experience!

Franklin Otorofani is an Attorney and Public Affairs Analyst.

Contacts: mudiagaone@yahoo.com, http://franklinotorofani.wordpress.com/




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