Tag Archives: libya

Airstrikes Alone Will Not Solve the Syrian Crisis

Given the last two decades of failed interventions it is easy to understand why the majority of Britain is opposed to the recent intervention in Syria.

As liberals we must do all we can, as internationalists, to maintain peace around the globe. But also as liberals we cannot allow such abhorrent crimes to continue to be committed by the Assad regime. The silence of our inaction would have been deafening; five years of ignoring the conflict has led us to where we are today.

The scars of the Libyan intervention are still in the recent memories of the West, and conflict still plagues the nation, but our failures there cannot deter us from upholding our moral commitment to prevent war crimes and holding those who commit them to account. The Pro-Assad propaganda, backed by Russia and elements of the Labour party, are toxic: they stand in the way of any meaningful resolution in Syria, and more civilians will die if their interpretation of the war enters the mainstream of political thought.

We must look to our past if we are to make sure that we leave Syria a better place than it is now. The airstrikes are a short term solution, but they are only limiting Assad’s ability to launch another chemical attack, a noble cause but not a path to peace.

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Wars are rackets – some more than others?

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. – – – It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

Smedley D. Butler

Major General Smedley knew what he was talking about. He achieved the highest rank possible in the US Marines and was the most decorated marine.
He said the only two reasons for armed conflict were the defence of our homes and of basic laws and rights. One is an external threat and the other is an internal threat. Currently we face the second.

The defence of one’s homes comes as a result of existential conflict. All other wars are optional.

Perhaps, there is more than one type of optional war.

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Fighting the war and peace in Libya

MP Tom Brake asked for input on whether we should support a war to defeat Da’esh in Libya. I would support such a war but with these provisos.

First, we must have an unequivocal resolution from the UN Security Council supporting any such action. The paltry effort which usually emanates from the council is not enough. Then the UN in general must put its money where its mouth is, both in gold and in its personnel. Here I do not mean just the usual suspects – the US, Canada, the UK, other european countries and a few from further afield but as many countries as is possible to convince to do so. We cannot do it without the support of the Arab League, the African Union and countries like Russia, Pakistan and others We must also have invitation and confidence from the Libyan government.

Second, in order to properly play our part and still be able to defend ourselves adequately, we have to take our Armed Forces establishment to the levels of before the coalition. The equipment we supply to our troops must be correct for first the war fighting and then afterwards the peacekeeping. We have to learn from our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, Urgent Operational Requirement notices were used to replace equipment which was failing our troops, or to fill a need existing equipment didn’t cover. This must not happen in Libya, our troops must have the best equipment on offerWe also have to have the willpower to keep the necessary troops in theatre to stop the debacle of our time in Helmand, when we were unable to hold the ground we patrolled and so took unnecessary casualties.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Tom Brake MP writes: Do you support military intervention in Libya?

Libya is in crisis. After the removal of the brutal dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has unfortunately disintegrated into a state in little more than name, without the stability and leadership of any government. The country is being held back and fragmented through tribal infighting and most worryingly Daesh has established strongholds around Libya, including the cities of Sirte and Sabratha and even in areas surrounding Benghazi.

It is reported that the vast majority of Daesh fighters based in Libya are not Libyan nationals and the movement does not have roots within the country. Daesh is deeply unpopular with Libyan citizens and they have struggled to motivate and indoctrinate Libyan citizens.

The American military are currently conducting airstrikes on Daesh targets within Libya. The Secretary of State for Defence has personally authorised the use of RAF Lakenheath to allow these airstrikes to be launched from within the United Kingdom. The UK Government has been coy on what role, if any, our military will take to support the US military in their fight against Daesh in Libya, however the likelihood of the UK Government committing to military intervention in Libya is increasing.

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – Libya’s path to democracy

Lord (Paddy) Ashdown recently penned a piece for the Guardian with some thoughts on how Libya should now move towards a functioning democracy following its liberation. The rule of law, in the short term at least, is more important than elections, according to Paddy.

Here’s an extract:

If there is one thing more fraught, more attended by failure and more difficult to do than fighting a war, it is building the peace which follows. Our modern wars are fought in weeks or months – but building the peace is measured in decades. Wars are violent and swift. Building peace is long, painful

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Opinion: Gaddafi’s Death – a conflict of emotion

As is customary in my family, any major news event (especially one in the Arab world) is first alerted to us by a text or call from my mother. While neither of my parents are party political, politics has permeated every hour of our family life for a long as I can remember. These days, usually as a result of either BBC World News or Al-Jazeera being the TV channel of choice at all times.

My father is currently operative as the EU head of ‘mission’ (in as much as one can exist) in Libya and so we have been watching …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

What Lib Dem members think about the Libya military intervention and its aftermath

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 550 party members responded, and we’re continuing to publish the full results.

Lib Dem members backed Libya intervention… and two-thirds are optimistic for country’s future

LDV asked: Do you think Britain, France, the US and other countries were right or wrong to take military action in Libya?

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MI6: speech-writers to Colonel Gaddafi?

Well, this is an unusual twist as the changes in Libya reveal documents about relations between foreign governments and Colonel Gaddafi:

The documents claim that MI6 supplied its counterparts in Libya with details on exiled opponents living in the UK, and chart how the CIA abducted several suspected militants before handing them over to Tripoli.

They also contain communications between British and Libyan security officials ahead of Tony Blair’s visit in 2004, and show that British officials helped write a draft speech for Gaddafi when he was

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Nick Clegg: Learning the lesson of Iraq, planning the peace

Nick Clegg has given a speech on the Arab Spring today at the British Council. He also included a passage on last night’s dramatic events in Libya:

The advances made by the Free Libya Forces in Tripoli would have been unthinkable just a few months ago. Unimaginable, even, for the generations of young Libyans who have never known a world without Qadhafi. Now, that world is within their reach. The momentum for change is breathtaking and, for the cynics who said change wasn’t possible, who had written off the Libyan uprising, written off the Arab Spring, clearly, they were wrong. The

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Nick Harvey MP writes: A hard look at defence spending

Today the Commons defence committee published a report criticising the MOD for decisions taken in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).  The report claims that recent defence budget reductions will leave our Armed Forces unable to execute the operations the Government sets for them post-2015.  
 
I disagree.
 
It is true that the MOD is reducing numbers of service personnel across the Army, Navy and Air Force and indeed the MOD has altered the equipment programme, which led to the deletion of Nimrod and Harrier.  But these tough decisions were necessary in order to address the black hole in the …

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Opinion: Libya – Where now?

In my second article on the Libyan conflict (read the first one here) I want to look at possible solutions and answers and creative ways that the international coalition can ensure that the war is brought to a quick and decisive conclusion.

The central problem is that Resolution 1973 is not up to the task at hand and either needs to be circumvented or rewritten. Without the right mandate it will be very difficult to win this war. Creative thinking and diplomacy are urgently required.

Supporting the Rebels
One hundred days in it is shocking that this amateur and brave army has …

Posted in Op-eds | 11 Comments

Opinion: Libya – A conflict without a strategy?

Monday marked 100 days since the air campaign began in Libya. Resolution 1973 authorises ‘all necessary measures to protect civilians’. The resolution, however, specifically excludes a foreign occupation force of any form on Libyan territory.

The White House was always lukewarm, at best, to the prospect of international intervention in Libya and has taken a back seat in the operation. As yet the combination of rebel forces and NATO air strikes has failed to have much significant strategic impact. Indeed, the Gaddafi regime seems intent on playing the long game and out lasting the unlikely combination of NATO airpower and weak …

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PMQs: Bits start to fall off Cameron’s wagon

After last week’s Miliband success at Prime Minister’s Questions, this time we started off with Ed Miliband in softly softly mode. He asked about Libya and the service chiefs’ concern about an extended campaign. Displaying a becoming measure of gravitas, he also asked whether the defence review should be revisited in the light of the “Arab Spring” which William Hague has described as more important than 9-11. That’s a good question given that the review didn’t mention Libya, Tunisia or Egypt.

David Cameron said he has been assured by the military grand fromage that we could keep the campaign going as …

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Lib Dem members survey: overwhelming backing for military action in Libya

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 530 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results this week.

Seven-in-10 Lib Dems back coalition force, but members split on success of action


LDV asked: Do you think Britain, France, the US and other countries are right or wrong to take military action in Libya?

    73% – Right to take military action
    18% – Wrong to take military action
    9% – Don’t know / No opinion

LDV then asked: Overall do you

Posted in LDV Members poll | 7 Comments

Nick Clegg lays down five principles of intervention – but doesn’t explain the Ivory Coast

In a major foreign policy speech in Mexico this week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg laid out five reasons why intervention in Libya was the right course to take and different from Iraq. However, applying those five reasons to the Ivory Coast raises the question why it is being treated so differently from Libya.

In his speech, Clegg said that Libya different from Iraq because:

First, the Libyan action is unambiguously legal. Iraq was not.

Second, there is a clear humanitarian case for intervention in Libya. In Iraq the case rested solely on the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction, a

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Opinion: Why Lib Dems should reject the doctrine of liberal interventionism

If the regular politics of coalition is a walk in a minefield, the Libya crisis presents Lib Dems with a walk in a minefield while being haunted by a pair of malevolent ghouls.

Those twin ghouls are ghosts of conflicts past, conflicts where Britain intervened and expedited disaster, such as Iraq , and the countries where the UK sat on its hands, and watched disaster unfold, such as in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

There are a number interesting, and from a Lib Dem point of view welcome, feature of the debate concerning the possibility of the western intervention in Libya, …

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Another 52 killed in the Ivory Coast

With a depressing predictability, my post at the start of the week about how the Ivory Coast’s violent political tragedy is being largely ignored has been one of the least well read posts on The Voice during this week.

But The Voice’s readers are pretty typical of the wider world in this respect at least. Until the end of yesterday, for example, Libya had got 54 mentions in Parliament so far this year, the Ivory Coast only six.

Yet this week has been another bloody one as defeated President Gbagbo refuses to leave office. The UN says 52 more people were murdered …

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Libya intervention passed to NATO’s leadership

The BBC reports:

Nato has agreed to take command of enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya from the US.

But Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made clear that other aspects of the operation would remain in the hands of the current coalition for now…

The US initially agreed to lead enforcement of the UN resolution, but made clear it wanted only a limited role and would hand over responsibility as soon as possible.

But the handover to Nato became bogged down when Turkey made clear its view that action should focus directly on enforcing the no-fly zone and arms embargo, rather than

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Parliament debates Libya: what Liberal Democrat MPs have been saying

Here are some selections from today’s debate in Parliament so far on the United Nations resolution on Libya and subsequent military action which touch on the questions of international law, the Liberal Democrat position, what is happening in other countries and the question of Iraq:

Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD):In view of the obviously barbaric attacks by Gaddafi on his own people, does the Prime Minister agree that those officials and military chiefs who are still standing firm with Gaddafi stand every chance of being hauled before the war crimes tribunal?

The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point. The

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UN says attack on Ivory Coast civilians may have been a war crime

So far, events in the Ivory Coast have received far less attention than those in Libya, even prior to the military intervention in the latter. Ivory Coast may not have the proximity to Europe of Libya, or a ruler to match the eye-catching nature of Colonel Gadaffi, but it has a President who has refused to leave office after losing an election and who has refused to cooperate fully with the UN.

UN troops have already been deployed to the country but a political stalemate has ensued as the UN has not been willing to authorise further steps, such as the …

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Nick Clegg on Libya: “This is not Iraq”

From the BBC:

Nick Clegg has voiced his support for possible military intervention in Libya, saying that any action would be carried out in order to “uphold international law”.

The deputy prime minister, whose Liberal Democrat Party opposed the war in Iraq, said: “This is not Iraq. We are not going to war”.

His comments came after Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that UK forces would join an international operation to enforce a UN resolution which demands an end to attacks on Libyan civilians.

For the full story, and a video of the BBC’s interview with Nick Clegg, see the BBC website.

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Opinion: our growing military impotency is restricting our foreign policy

Recent events in the Middle East have demonstrated how the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) is cutting the British military back to the barest of bare bones. In doing so, we risk losing our position as a leading world player, as befits a nation with a veto on the UN Security Council. Instead we are becoming a two-bit regional player, all diplomatic swagger but militarily impotent.

Amidst the criticism of the Government’s evacuation of British citizens from Egypt and Libya, one success story was the deployment of HMS Cumberland, a Royal Navy frigate, to Benghazi in February. Whilst other countries were having …

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Opinion: It’s time for a no-fly zone

In 1984 a young aeronautical engineer called Al-Sadek Hamed Al-Shuwehdy,an opponent of Muammar Gaddafi, was hanged in a basketball stadium in Benghazi. As he hung from the rope dying, he was grabbed round his legs and dragged down until he stopped moving by a brutal young woman called Huda Ben Amer. Ben Amer was appointed Mayor of Benghazi, and went on to terrorise the people Benghazi for the decades since. She escaped the Benghazi uprising, and is waiting to return if the Libyan army retake control in the next few days.

Al-Sadek’s story matters, not just because of …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 27 Comments

LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – It is time for Europe to back a no-fly zone in Libya

In the Financial Times, Paddy Ashdown (former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and former Leader of the Liberal Democrats) calls for a no-fly zone in Libya:

It is difficult not to feel a wearisome sense of déjà vu watching European leaders on Friday saying something needed to be done in Libya, but failing completely to say what.

Libya is not our backyard. But what happens there and in the other countries of the Maghreb matters to us Europeans very much. If those who have overturned dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt (and hopefully Libya) in this “Arab spring” can create effective,

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The weekend debate: How ethical should our foreign policy be?

Here’s your starter for ten in our weekend slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

The military coup in Egypt was met with widespread international support – because it deposed President Mubarak. Similarly, the sending of troops into Libya by Britain and other countries to help people leave has been met with barely a whisper of concern about whether or not troops should be sent into another country without any UN motion or similar. Yet pragmatism and self-interest is hardly all the rage – for Tony Blair’s attitude to Libya has been coming under much criticism as has …

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When traditional media, the online world and recession meet

Robert Pelletreau, a former American Ambassador in three of the countries very much in the news, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia, has highlighted how difficult it is to predict where protests will strike:

Tunisia had not seemed particularly shaky. It was a country that seemed to be doing many things right: universal education for men and women, low military spending, and positive economic growth. A large middle class was developing, and the country had become a popular tourist destination for Europeans. The government was authoritarian but also determinedly secular and pro-Western.

The role of social media has, with some justification, been given …

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Kishwer Falkner writes… Libya: our common humanity crosses frontiers to protect those we do not know

As tyrannical regimes go, Libya is right there at the top and ranks alongside North Korea for the unpredictability of its ruler, the self-styled Colonel Muammar Gaddafy, who used to be referred to by Ronald Reagan as the Middle East’s ‘mad dog’.

Having given up nuclear weapons he is admittedly slightly better than Kim Jong-il, but we cannot know for sure that he has also given up chemical and biological weapons. In a country where tribal loyalties prevail and where the four main tribes occupy the main positions, Gaddafi’s own tribe occupies the top posts and much of his internal repression is carried out through a myriad of different state security institutions as well as a plethora of paramilitary units, recruited from abroad.

The country does not have a constitution, but is run by a revolutionary ruling council which has been in situ for 42 years and cannot be dismissed. There have been regular attempts at coups over this period, which have been ruthlessly put down and there are no evident pointers to a peaceful succession.

Gaddafi’s four sons have long been involved in jostling for the top position and foreign governments were betting on Saif al Islam (the second son) to take over the reins, as he was increasingly the acceptable face of the regime.

Saif al Islam al Gaddafi was awarded a PhD from LSE enticingly titled “The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions”. He chairs the Human Rights Commission of Libya, and lest anyone doubt that he is therefore a soft touch, he was his father’s voice last weekend displaying a similar determination to stay in power through putting down the uprising till as he put it, the last man, the last woman, and the last bullet had been expended. He appears to be delivering on his pledge.

Several hundreds have died in the last few days, hospitals are overflowing and as a crackdown has started, anyone moving on the street is shot dead. Reports say that ambulances are also shot at to deter them from trying to save the injured. The air force has been mobilised to bomb civilian residential areas, and the reign of terror has started.

So what should be done now, that the country has descended into chaos?

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Davey: ministers seem prepared to have given Gaddafi anything he wanted

Yesterday’s Times revealed that Jack Straw signed a secret deal with Libya three years ago guaranteeing the Libyan killer of a British policewoman will never be brought to justice in Britain:

The Libyan killer of a British policewoman will never be brought to justice in Britain after a secret deal approved by Jack Straw. The Foreign Office bowed to Libyan pressure and agreed that Britain would abandon any attempt to try the murderer of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, shot outside the Libyan embassy in London 25 years ago.

Anthony Layden, Britain’s former ambassador to Libya, said this weekend he had signed the agreement with the Libyan government three years ago, when Straw was foreign secretary. At the time Britain was negotiating trade deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds with Libya.

The deal followed a visit by Tony Blair, then prime minister, to meet Colonel Gadaffi in March 2004 after Libya announced that it was ending its nuclear weapons programme. The disclosure will provoke criticism of the government after the row over the early release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the terminally ill Lockerbie bomber.

Lib Dem shadow foreign secretary Ed Davey has condemned the move:

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Daily View 2×2: 7 September 2009

2 Big Stories

Government’s Libya policy: confusion reigns

The mounting government confusion over its policy towards Libya continues today.

First we had the Prime Minister’s refusal to make a comment on the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi; then it emerged that Gordon Brown had let it be known he agreed with the Scottish executive’s decision; over the weekend Justice Secretary Jack Straw acknowledged the obvious – that government policy was strongly influenced by trade and oil.

And now it emerges that Mr Brown is stepping up British attempts to win compensation for the victims of the bombing:

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Daily View 2×2: 6 September 2009

Welcome to the Sunday edition of The Voice’s Daily View. And as it’s a Sunday, it’s also time for a multimedia chocolate extra. But first…

Big Stories

Straw admits Lockerbie trade link

Trade and oil played a part in the decision to include the Lockerbie bomber in a prisoner transfer deal, Jack Straw has admitted.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the UK justice secretary said trade was “a very big part” of the 2007 talks that led to the prisoner deal with Libya.

However, Mr Straw’s spokesman accused the press of “outrageous” innuendo. (BBC)

G20 papers over cracks on bank capital, pay

The G20 made progress on Saturday in toughening up financial rules but vague compromises over bank capital and pay curbs indicate that fundamental issues remain unresolved.

The crash of Lehman Bros that brought the world’s financial system to its knees last September was uppermost in minds at the April G20 meeting, which adopted pledges to make it harder for banks to mess up economies in future.

Translating pledges into concrete action is proving to be more painstaking as vested national interests emerge and economic recovery takes the heat out of pressures to reform.

Still, the mood music at Saturday’s meeting contrasted with the tense summit five months ago when fear stalked the corridors of governments and banks were on tenterhooks as to their fate.

(Reuters)

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

(Both of these posts have been selected from those which appeared on Lib Dem Blogs on Saturday. To read more from other Liberal Democrat blogs, take a look at the Lib Dem Blogs website and to see what Lib Dems have been saying on Twitter, take a look at Liberal Tweets.)

Sunday Bonus

Men eating chocolate. It’s what YouTube was invented for.

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