Home > LIBYA, POLITICS > War in Libya: Libya & World – News (March 25,2011)

War in Libya: Libya & World – News (March 25,2011)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Laaska News March 25,2011. +More News

Military operations continue in Libya, AU calls for transition period

 

TRIPOLI, March 25 (Xinhua) — Multinational military operations over Libya entered their seventh straight day as NATO decided to enforce the U.N.-mandate no-fly zone Thursday evening.

STRIKES CONTINUE

Coalition air strikes have increased over Tripoli, the capital of Libya, with warplanes targeting fuel depots and local military installations.

French warplanes destroyed an artillery battery of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces before Friday sunrise.

According to Edouard Guillaud, the chief of French general staff, the strike was conducted on Thursday overnight when the artillery was bombing Ajdabiya, a town in Libya’s east, where fighting between Gaddafi’s forces and the rebels are reportedly continuing.

“Libyan air space is under control,” Guillaud told local radio France Info, adding a Libyan plane was also destroyed on the ground during Thursday’s operation.

His comment aligned with a separate statement by U.S. military officials, who said the operation was now in its second phase, with a focus on Libyan government ground forces.

So far, French forces had destroyed “facilities extremely important,” including ammunition depots, maintenance facilities, and also a command center, he said.

British Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s also attacked Libyan armored vehicles near Ajdabiya on Thursday night.

The Tornado aircraft launched a number of Brimstone guided missiles, a high precision, low collateral damage weapon optimized against demanding and mobile targets.

Meanwhile, Qatar announced Friday its warplanes had flown over Libya as part of its participation in the international no-fly zone coalition.

Qatar, a key U.S. ally, on Tuesday dispatched two aircraft and a military transport plane to a military base on Greece’s Crete island.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced it would become the second Arab country to join the effort, committing 12 aircraft.

AU APPEALS FOR TRANSITION PERIOD

Meanwhile, African Union (AU) chief Jean Ping called for a transition period in Libya Friday at a meeting in Addis Ababa.

The meeting, involving members of the AU Peace and Security Council, members of the ad hoc committee as well as the neighboring countries and AU partners, was held to agree on ways and means of an early exit from the crisis and a mechanism for consultation and joint actions to be taken.

“The neighboring countries of Libya will be affected if the situation worsens in the country… the AU is urgently trying to find lasting solutions to the crisis,” Ping said.

“The current situation in Libya is extremely serious for Libya itself and for the region as whole… the fate of the people of Libya whose protection must be ensured, and the AU very much attached to ensuring the protection of the people as enshrined in its constitutive act,” he said.

NATO TO ASSUME COMMAND AND CONTROL

NATO was expected to take over full military command of operations against Libya from the United States “in the next few days,” alliance spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Friday, one day after the alliance decided to enforce the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya.

“NATO is actively considering whether to take on a broader role under the UN Security Council Resolution. Without prejudging the deliberations, we would expect a decision to take over all operations in the next few days,” Lungescu said.

“NATO is acting as part of the broader international effort in support of the people of Libya,” she said.

Military officials said NATO would run the operation from its base in Naples, Italy.

NATO was to hold a force generation meeting soon for the operation, which would require “a significant number” of aircraft, NATO military officials said, adding some 10 countries had made contributions.

On Thursday evening, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance would take over the command of the no-fly zone in “a couple of days,” but gave no commitment on who would take full command of all military operations.

Xinhua.

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Coalition bombing continues

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Mar 25, 2011

Photo:EPA.

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On Thursday the Western Coalition resumed the bombing of the Libyan capital, and the city of Tajura located 30 kilometers the east.

According to information coming from the country, several closely timed explosions rocked Tripoli.

There was intensive fire from anti-aircraft batteries and air defense systems.

As reported by Libyan television, Western attacks in Tripoli and Tajura occurred on residential areas and military targets.

 

 

EU demands Gaddaffi step down

Mar 25, 2011

 

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European Council President Herman Van Rompuy during a news conference at an EU summit in Brussels. Photo: EPA  

The European Union has demanded that the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi “immediately relinquish power” which will reduce the time to begin an orderly transition to democracy on the basis of broad dialogue based on the principles of sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country .”

The Heads of State and Government of EU countries also endorsed a ban on imports of oil and gas from Libya.

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Russia.

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NATO’s role in Libya will be limited to ensuring the no-fly zone

 Mar 25, 2011

 

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The mandate of NATO’s operations in Libya, will include only the provision for maintaining a no-fly zone.

This was announced today in Brussels, by the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

NATO will engage in parallel operation with the Western coalition in providing for the no-fly zone.

Rasmussen said that talks on granting the Alliance a broader role in Libya are continuing.

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Russia.

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  NATO will lead operation in Libya in the coming days

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In the coming days the command of military operations in Libya will be transferred to NATO.

Disputes about who should lead the operations of the Western coalition in Libya, have been going on for almost a week.

France in particular is against the transfer of command to the Alliance. It wants the leadership to be handed to representatives of the Arab League and the African Union.

  Russia.

Libya not complying – Ki-Moon

Mar 25, 2011

 

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has accused the government of Libya of ignoring the international community’s demand to a cease-fire against the Libyan opposition, which has resulted in the killing of more civilians. The secretary general made the statement, speaking at a meeting of the Security Council of the United Nations on the situation in the region.

The Libyan authorities have repeatedly argued that the requirement of a cease-fire is being followed. However, Ban Ki-moon, who toured Egypt and Tunisia, has not found confirmation of this.

The conflict in Libya began in mid-February, when the country erupted in demonstrations demanding the ouster of Gaddaffi  who has been ruling the country for over 40 years.

The demonstrations developed into an armed confrontation between government forces and rebels.

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Over 100 civilians killed in Libya

Mar 25, 2011

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About a hundred civilians have been killed since the beginning of Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya.

This was announced on Thursday by the representative of the Libyan Government Musa Ibrahim.

The international coalition, which includes the U.S. and 12 European countries, is in its fifth day of military strikes on targets in Libyan territory.

However, the bombs and missiles are going off in the major cities of the country including Tripoli.

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Presidents Medvedev and Obama discuss Libya

 

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We can not allow civilians to become the victims of military action against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.

This was stated by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama. They discussed the situation surrounding Libya reported the Kremlin press service on Thursday night.

According to President Medvedev, the priority in Libya must be the goals identified by the UN Security Council resolution. Chief among them being the protection of civilians.

The leaders of Russia and the United States also discussed the negotiations on accession of Russia to the WTO and exchanged views on the European missile defense system.

The conversation was initiated by the Russian side.

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 Operation Odyssey Dawn under way

Mar 24, 2011 20:43

 

The United States has started the deployment of more than 4,000 marines and sailors to the Mediterranean Sea to support Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, the US Navy press service reported on Thursday. Thus far, coalition forces have saved civilians with the help of air strikes, something that analysts say may well be followed by a ground military operation, which they warn is fraught with dire consequences.

The situation in Libya will be high on the agenda of a UN Security Council session, which opens in New York later on Thursday. Among other things, diplomats will discuss Russia’s ceasefire-leaning approach to the topic, which was specifically touted by President Dmitry Medvedev earlier this week, when he signaled his country’s readiness to act as a mediator in the Libyan conflict.

The subject will also be on the table of an EU summit that kicks off in Brussels on Thursday in an event that will specifically focus on who will be at the helm of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

The operation kicked off late last week and aims to enforce the UN Security Council no-fly-zone-over-Libya resolution. Analysts say that the beginning of the ground operation is just a matter of time, quoting Western leaders as saying that the operation’s real goal is the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi whose persistent push for victory, pundits say,  is unlikely to be pacified by air strikes alone.

In an interview with the Voice of Russia aired on Thursday, Vladimir Sotnikov, a Moscow-based security expert, said that the United States, the European Union and NATO will have to consult with the Arab League on the matter.

“At the end of the day, the Arab League may say its “No” to the continuation of air strikes on Libya,” Sotnikov says, citing the Western coalition’s futile efforts to get the better of pro-Gaddafi forces. “In any case, the topic remains bright on the international radar, he concludes.”

He was echoed by Vladimir Yevseyev, another Moscow-based expert, who said in Thursday’s interview with the Voice of Russia that some EU and NATO members, including Turkey and Germany, have repeatedly warned against the military muscle-flexing in Libya.

“Germany has more than once cautioned against the use of force against Libya in what was also backed by an array of other EU countries,” Yevseyev says, referring to the UNSC no-fly zone resolution. “Slamming what they described as a “hastily adopted document”, they also pointed to a possible spilt-up of Libya, which may cause a domino effect in other African countries, the Russian expert concluded.”

Russia.

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NATO to enforce no-fly zone over Libya

BRUSSELS, March 24 (Xinhua) — NATO has decided to enforce the UN-mandate no-fly zone over Libya, the alliance’s chief said on Thursday evening.

“NATO Allies have now decided to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the gathering of NATO ambassadors.

“We are taking action as part of the broad international effort to protect civilians against the attacks by the Gaddafi regime. We will cooperate with our partners in the region and welcome their contributions,” Rasmussen said in a statement.

“All NATO allies are committed to fulfill their obligations under the UN resolution. That is why we have decided to assume responsibility for the no-fly-zone,” the statement said.

Xinhua

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EU summit kicks off in Brussels

 

Mar 24, 2011

 

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European Union leaders are in Brussels for a two-day summit, set  to be dominated by their divisions over Libya and the political turmoil in eurozone member Portugal, whose Prime Minister Jose Socrates resigned on the eve of the gathering.

When in Brussels, EU leaders will also try to resolve a slew of differences that have especially tarnished their ties in the last couple of weeks.

The main split occurred when Germany abstained from last week’s UN Security Council vote on the no-fly zone over Libya. The move infuriated France, which together with the United States and Britain spearhead the aerial attacks on the strongholds of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Russia.

AL’s role in Libya intervention under criticism

by Khaled Khalefe

JERUSALEM, March 23 (Xinhua) — With a multinational coalition trying to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya with missile attacks and bombardments, the role of the Arab League (AL) is under increasing dispute.

Many analysts said that the AL made a mistake when it consented to the intervention in Libya, a campaign loaded with the oil interests of participating countries and inclined to affect regional stability.

The nod of the Arab bloc was needed as political cover by the intervening parties, said one of the sources, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

With the AL in their camp, the intervening parties were then free to claim that the operation is neither a West versus Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi battle nor a “second Iraq,” he said.

Shortly after the beginning of what is code-named Operation Odyssey Dawn, AL chief Amr Moussa said that the assaults went beyond last week’s UN resolution green-lighting a no-fly zone.

Arab media sources told Xinhua that Moussa was trying to retreat after he learned of the civilian casualties and the strong negative reaction to the Western intervention in a domestic conflict.

“What we are seeing is the same scenario as Iraq, in which the Western forces use the mandate of the AL to enforce a no-fly zone and immediately begin bombing the entire infrastructure,” said an African diplomat who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the issue.

“The main objective of those countries is guaranteeing Libyan oil and wealth. Their actions will create clashes between the two Libyan factions while at the same time weakening them and making them very dependent on the West,” he added.

“At the end, we will see an economically backward Libya and an easy flowing of low-priced oil. This is what we see in Iraq and this is what we will see in Libya,” he said.

The AL is trying to retreat from its position, but the political mistake concerning Libya has already been made, said Dr. Eli Foodai from the Truman Institute in Jerusalem.

The AL did not read the long-term regional strategic environment well when it agreed to the Western intervention, some Arab observers said.

Dr. Abu Yousef, a researcher from Ramallah, said that what the West is trying to do in Libya is usher in a regime change rather than a democratic process.

The Western countries are very selective in the case of Libya, and “they interfere only for oil and for nothing else,” Yousef said.

Special Report: Foreign Military Intervention in Libya

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Xinhua.

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Coalition operation in Libya to be steered in London amid concerns

by Zhang Xin, Sonia Ounissi

PARIS, March 23 (Xinhua) — As the coalition operation in Libya continues, a political steering committee proposed by France has fixed its first session on next Tuesday in London.

Speaking in front of French lawmakers on Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said a “contact group” would meet in London on Tuesday, including members of the United States, France, Britain and other involved countries.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague later confirmed the meeting, which, according to French media, is on the level of foreign ministers to better coordinate the operation among coalition states involved in the military intervention in Libya, as well as the Arab League and African Union.

Firm with his position on NATO, the top French diplomat again stressed no leadership for the U.S.-centric alliance.

He made it clear on Tuesday that NATO was important to provide “support” in respects of coordinating the warplanes and operational missions of different countries, most of which are NATO members, but France wanted to maintain its initiator role in later operations and even in “organizing peace” in Libya.

A new poll published Wednesday on local daily France-Soir showed that around 66 percent of French people supported the international intervention in Libya, while 34 percent chose disapproval, representing a change in public attitude compared with a previous poll conducted in early March, which recorded 63 percent of French people against this intervention.

French forces destroyed over ten armored vehicles of Gaddafi’s troops in the previous three days of the operation, Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said in an interview with Le Figaro. “The no-fly zone is henceforth realized,” he added. “So what’s threatening the population today are tanks and artilleries.”

Xinhua News Agency

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UN official voices concern over ongoing fighting in Libya 

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GENEVA, March 23 (Xinhua) — UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya Rashid Khalikov on Wednesday expressed concern about reports of ongoing fighting in Libya and the humanitarian situation inside the country.

“We are concerned about the civilians who lack or may lack access to basic services in and near areas where fighting took place or is taking place,” Khalikov said, referring to the ongoing intense fighting reported in particular at Ajdabiya and Misrata, around the city of Tripoli.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator had traveled to Libya and Egypt from March 12 to 16 to assess the humanitarian situation and meet with parties concerned.

Khalikov said he met with the Libyan deputy foreign minister and deputy health minister to discuss humanitarian issues. He also paid a visit to Zawiyah, where fierce battles took place.

A large number of military personnel and equipment were observed on the road from Tripoli to Zawiyah, Khalikov said, regarding it as “an indication that situation is still extremely tense in that place.”

Meanwhile, many people were trying desperately to get out of the country. Some sub-Saharans got stuck near the airport of Tripoli, living in makeshift camps, as the evacuation process was going too slowly to fill the need, he said.

He also said that migrant workers were stuck at both the Egyptian and Tunisian side of the border.

For the eastern part of the country, Khalikov said UN humanitarian agencies were in contact with the rebels. A small mission headed by OCHA’s regional office in Cairo had been sent to Benghazi in early March to maintain contact with various groups in the city, he said.

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Xinhua News Agency.

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Western air strikes fail to dislodge Gaddafi armour

By Maria Golovnina and Michael Georgy

TRIPOLI, March 24 (Reuters) – Western warplanes hit Libya for a fifth night on Thursday, but have so far failed to stop Muammar Gaddafi’s tanks shelling rebel-held towns or dislodge his armour from a strategic junction in the east.

Gaddafi’s tanks rolled back into Misrata under the cover of darkness and began shelling the area near the main hospital, residents and rebels said, resuming their attack after their guns were silenced in daylight hours by Western airstrikes.

Government snipers in the city, Libya’s third largest, were undeterred by the bombing raids though and had carried on firing indiscriminately throughout, residents said. A rebel spokesman said the snipers had killed 16 people.

“Government tanks are closing in on Misrata hospital and shelling the area,” said a doctor in Misrata who was briefly reached by phone before the line was cut off.

It was impossible to independently verify the reports.

A loud explosion was heard in the Libyan capital Tripoli early on Thursday and smoke could be seen rising from an area where a military base is situated.

Libyan officials took journalists to a Tripoli hospital early on Thursday to see what they said were the charred bodies of 18 military personnel and civilians killed by Western warplanes or missiles overnight.

The U.S. military said it had successfully established a no-fly zone over Libya’s coastal areas and had moved on to attack Gaddafi’s tanks. The allies flew 175 sorties in 24 hours, with the U.S. flying 113 of those, a U.S. commander said.

French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said France had destroyed some 10 Libyan armoured vehicles over three days.

The U.N. Security Council resolution he said, “stipulates that the coalition has all means available to protect the civilians. What’s threatening the population today is the tanks and artillery,” he said in an interview with Le Figaro.

The Libyan government denies its army is conducting any offensive operations and says troops are only defending themselves when they come under attack.

But a resident in Zintan, southwest of Tripoli said Gaddafi forces were bringing up more troops and tanks to bombard the rebel-held town. Rebels forces in the east meanwhile were still pinned down outside the strategic junction at Ajdabiyah after more than three days of trying to recapture it.

Libyan state television said Western planes had struck in Tripoli and in Jafar, southwest of the capital.

“Military and civilian targets were attacked by colonialist crusaders,” the television said.

Libyan government officials have accused Western powers of killing dozens of civilians, but have not shown reporters in the capital any evidence of such deaths. U.S. military officials deny any civilians have been killed in airstrikes.

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NATO IN FOURTH DAY OF TALKS

While the fighting raged, NATO again failed to agree to take over command of the military operations from the United States, chiefly because of objections from Turkey, diplomats said.

The United States, with its forces already tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan, said it wants to give up its lead role in Libya in a “matter of days” and wants NATO to play an important role in the command of the operation, though the exact structure of its role was still under discussion.

“I think this is going to be a matter of days in which you see a movement toward the transition with regard to command and control,” a top aide to President Barack Obama told reporters.

Washington, London and Paris agreed on Tuesday that the alliance should play a key operational role, but the assent of all 28 NATO states is needed. Objections from Muslim NATO member Turkey have held up agreement on the alliance’s role for three days and a fourth day of talks in Brussels is due on Thursday.

Turkey said it did not want NATO to take responsibility for offensive operations that could cause civilian casualties or be in charge of enforcing a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone while coalition aircraft were simultaneously bombing Libyan forces.

France wants an ad hoc steering group of coalition members, including the Arab League, to exercise political control. All nations are welcome to join, a French presidential source said.

“We need to have a place where all those who want to commit to help Libyans build a future can meet and discuss a political framework,” he said. “It’s about accompanying the military process with a political one.”

The group is due to meet in London next Tuesday.

“We’ve launched the idea of a contact group and apparently it’s a big success,” the French source said.

Reuters.

Libya denies cutting off supplies to Misrata

 

TRIPOLI, March 24 (Reuters) – Libya denied allegations on Thursday that it had cut off water and electricity supplies to the rebel-held city of Misrata.

“We heard those rumours that the government has intentionally cut off supplies,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim. “It’s just a technical problem because of damage and looting.”

Misrata residents say it is under attack by government forces who have severed their basic supplies and effectively besieged the last major rebel holdout in western Libya.

Speaking alongside Kaim, officials in charge of basic utilities said that water and electricity supplies as well as telecommunication services had indeed been cut off to Misrata for the last four days but purely for technical reasons.

“We did not cut it off,” Omar al-Mislati, planning manager for the state water company, told reporters.

He said up to 70,000 people in Misrata — a city of about 300,000 — had no access to water due a technical problem and damage caused by some of the fighting.

Mustafa Hassan, an official at the state electricity company, said: “Due to the crisis in Misrata, power supplies to Misrata have been substantially damaged.”

“I strongly disagree with those who say it was intentionally cut off,” he said, adding that 10,000 people in Misrata had no electricity as a result.

Rebels and residents in Misrata have told Reuters Gaddafi’s forces resumed their attack on Wednesday despite earlier Western air strikes aimed at protecting civilians. Kaim denied the government was involved in any military operations.

“We believe the ceasefire is for all, not only for the regular army,” he said. “The rebels, the armed militia should not be benefited by the air strikes conducted by coalition forces. The air strikes should stop immediately.”

Reuters.

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Russia, Germany worried by civilan deaths in Libya

Mar 23, 2011

Russia and Germany are against what they call an indiscriminate use of military force against civilian population.

This is the bottom line of the discussion Russia’s deputy foreign minister Alexander Saltanov had in Moscow on Wednesday with  the German Foreign Ministry’s political director Emily Haber.

“We need to stick to the provisions of Security Council Resolution 1973, which provides for a no-fly zone over Libya exclusively for protecting civilian lives,” Saltanov said.

Haber agreed, saying Moscow and Berlin were looking almost eye to eye on the ongoing western military operation in Libya.

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French society on the verge of political crisis  (Interview)

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Kudashkina Ekaterina Mar 23, 2011

AUDIO

Interview with Victor Mizin, Deputy Director of the International Studies Institute at the MGIMO University in Moscow, Russia.

Thank you very much for joining us! The basic question as we are trying to follow the developments in France is – how do you think the French involvement in the Libyan operation – how could it affect the position of Mr. Sarkozy?

Well, we all know that his popularity has gone down to the lowest level of, I think, any president of France in the recent decades, and of course as we know, for any leader to boost his credentials it is always important to start a small war somewhere far away from the borders of the country, and of course we are well aware of all this well-known French nationalism which could be instigated even today. Also this is a country divided. In the recent years due to political correctness and some kind of the guilt complex for the centuries of colonialism France has adopted, I think, millions of its former colonial nations from Africa, and specifically from the Arab world. If you walk through the downtown you can see a lot of people like this. But in the recent years we also have seen some kind of nationalism if not jingoism, when the poor title nation representatives think that those migrants are stealing jobs or social welfare from them. It was the case for many core European states like Italy or Germany, but in France it is specifically acute, because it was a former empire and because the nation, the migrants who have come they remember what kind of atrocities for example, the French troops committed in their former colonies like Algeria etc. So many see this new war as some kind of a civilization war even, when Sarkozy, who is probably the leader of this nationalistic circles in France, he also wants to position the country as the leader not only in Europe, but also in its former colonies; so many people see it as a war, I am sorry to say, of the white people against the third world. This is very dangerous because it can change the attitude toward France, and not only France, but entire old Europe on the whole territory of Arab countries in the entire Islamic world. I think probably to start a war like this you are to calculate first what repercussions would be.

So from what we are witnessing now in France, elections to local authority showed that Mr. Sarkozy is losing to Marine Le Pen.

Yes, and it is also very dangerous, and it is a very interesting phenomenon, because Marine Le Pen unlike her father probably she is not just outer nationalistic, she also mixes this jingoism with some kind of Merkel’s slogans, anti-globalization etc. It only shows the dissatisfaction of the French population with the state of affairs and we know the living conditions in France are deteriorating; and if the country was on the ride in the 1970s, now it is quickly losing its competitive age even to its neighbours like – I am not speaking about Germany, but even to neighbours like Britain. Actually due to this political correctness a lot of money was infused into the social welfare but the people think that, and some people even say that what we have in France, is some kind of government socialism, – but the people think that even this is not enough, people want larger pensions, larger salaries; I think that the French society is probably on the verge of a very serious political crisis.

What do you mean by crisis?

I mean that it is the society divided. First we see the growing antipathy toward people with a different color of skin. The French unlike Americans probably have always been very dark nationalists. Even Russians, I mean the white emigrants who have come to France and who probably spoke French better in grammatical terms than the natives, even then they were never accepted as equal as real French. In France especially if you go to some small towns or villages, it is still a very conservative society, a very nationalistic society; of course in the 1970s and probably in the 1980s and in the 1990s they tried not to show openly this kind of attitude, but now we see this upsurge of this very dark, very scary kind of nationalism, and this kind of adversarial attitude toward all migrants, specifically migrants from North Africa and the Arab world.

And their number is going to increase now obviously.

Unfortunately, yes, and I think that in many this kind of apocalyptical forecasts Europe is already flooded by this new wave of migration, when herds of people who do not speak even European languages, they are coming and they are seeking refuge, but they also are looking for some kind of donation, for salaries; and this can collapse the entire societal structure of many European countries.

Which means that the crisis is there not only in France but also in other European states? Is that correct?

I would even say Russia included. I mean we are not separated by any kind of a wall from Europe and we already know how many migrants from former Soviet republics are coming to Russia, frankly there are some tensions; so there are general structural changes in entire Europe, when for instance Europe hasn’t become a melting pot, or Russia hasn’t become a very fantastic or a happy place where all the people, all the nations live in kind of harmonic collaboration; we saw so many conflicts after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It is pretty much the fact now in Europe, where we see rising nationalism, for me it could be likened to some kind of mild fascism, I am afraid.

By the way, you are not the first one who tells me about rise in fascist sentiment across Europe. But then – do you think that there is a real chance that Marine Le Pen can win the presidential elections in France?

Well, still I think that the French nation, the core of the mainstream in France, is more or less the same, but the tendency is very, very threatening to me, because it is some parallel with some logical events in Germany, in Austria for that matter, in Italy etc. So we see emerging new Europe, which for me unfortunately more and more looks like many European states in turmoil of the end of 1920s, beginning of the 1930s of the past century.

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Coalition to form political contact group on Libya

Mar 23, 2011

The military planning of the Libya operation is the responsibility of NATO, while the political guidance, of the foreign ministers in the anti-Gaddafi coalition.

The ministers are to hold the first session of what they call their contact group on Libya in London next Tuesday.

The announcement is from the French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.

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Russia.

It is bad now and it is going to get worse ( INTERVIEW)

Mar 22, 2011

AUDIO

Interview with Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent.

The TV channel quoted Libyan government reports as saying that attacks carried out late on Monday had killed many civilians. Can you tell us what the exact death toll is at present?

I have no idea, I do not think anybody knows, clearly there is a view of the western media, certainly of the British media, is that Gaddafi has been exaggerating the civilian death toll, and of course, in the British media there have been many reports about the fact that civilians have been deliberately put in the firing land.

US President Barack Obama has reiterated US demands for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down. He insists Gaddafi needs to go. So if Gaddafi stepped down, who would be the Libyan leader, do you see any candidate for this role?

It is exceptionally difficult because Gaddafi has dominated the country for 42 years, and he has not really allowed a political opposition to develop. However the former Prime Minister is one candidate, and so there are some figures, possibly, for example those Libyan diplomats who resigned their posts at the United Nations at the beginning of the crisis. However as we saw with the Benghazi opposition that even faced by a military conflict they were unable to establish a clear line of command. So Gaddafi’s departure would leave a huge vacuum and it would be extremely hard to reconstitute a solid government in these conditions, especially given the western intervention at this time.

How do you estimate Gaddafi’s state power at present?

Well, it is very shaky, clearly. It is simply what we didn’t know until the beginning of the events a month ago is just how unpopular he was, the deep depth of resistance, even some of the tribal leaders – as you know, the political system in Libya is still very tribal – have opposed him, that Gaddafi has been able to rule for so many years by dividing and ruling and incorporating these various regional leaders, and most of them accept now that it is time for him to go.

Do you believe that Libya can become a democracy?

Absolutely, any country can become a democracy, however democracy is not an absolute, it is always a relative condition, it always has to be responsive to native traditions, and indeed, any attempt to impose democracy is always going to make it fragile; democracy has to emerge, either from an evolutionary genetic process if you like, as we see it in many of the post-communist countries, this is undoubtedly the case. However there is no particular reason why Libya or any other country cannot become a democracy. But remember that democracy has to be at the same time in the modern world responsive to certain liberal conditions: a quality of citizenship, a quality of human rights, for men and women, etc. So how liberal a democracy will be? Because democracy is not simply about majority rule, it is about limiting power as much as facilitating it.

Russian Prime-Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday likened the UN Security Council resolution on Libya to medieval crusade call. What do you think of this?

I can understand concerns of the Russian Prime-Minister. Clearly, the resolution 1973 was sanctioning only a relatively limited intervention, a no-fly zone, and clearly the circumstances on the ground changed quite fast given the fact that Gaddafi didn’t not maintain his own declared ceasefire and continued the attack against Benghazi.  On the other hand, it is unclear to me, how civilized states can sit on the sidelines and see the leader Gaddafi continuing an attack against defenseless citizens who after 42 years of rule have risen up in a revolution, – not a revolt, – a revolution, for just an equal citizenship. I think the situation on the ground is far more complicated, of course, that huge matter of concern; because if today we do not like Gaddafi and the Libyan leadership, and perhaps then we will not like the Iranian leadership, or perhaps we do not even  like the French leadership, so where will the intervention stop? Veto is not an excuse not to intervene when you have a genuine humanitarian disaster unfolding in front of you.

The air strikes seriously damaged Libya’s air defense systems as well as part of Gaddafi’s residential compound in Tripoli, media report said. Do you see a possibility for a ground operation in the near future?

We know that the western leaders have excluded that, however we do know that for example the British have prepared some military units for perhaps a limited ground intervention. I do not think the intervention would be so much to conduct military operations, I think they designed perhaps to support the revolutionaries, if you like, and also to provide humanitarian assistance in due course such as food, because as you know the food supply system has collapsed, there is hunger, there is shortage of water; there is genuine lack of power and social organization. So we would hope that once Gaddafi has gone there would be some troops supporting and helping the civilians.

Gaddafi said he started arming people in his country to fight against the foreign aggression; he also added he wouldn’t give up, he would rather die. So how do you think the situation is going to develop?

You are absolutely right. Gaddafi now knows that he has no alternative, that he did have a chance to go to Venezuela or somewhere at the beginning, he failed to take this opportunity and now it is a fight to the death. His language is exactly that of Adolph Hitler in the last months of the Second World War, that he preferred to destroy his country and to go down in catastrophe rather than to save his own people and to go quietly. So yes, it is bad now and it is going to get worse, because he will not give up, he will sacrifice his own people in this pointless attempt to continue, because basically his rule is over. As far as Russia is concerned, there is not so much to lose – they abstained in the UN resolution, I think this was a very wise thing to do, to be quite honest.  I think it is better for the Libyan people by far for Gaddafi now to go and for some new democratic administration to be established as a successor to him.

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VOR.

 

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