It is almost the thirteenth hour. Finally, the UN Security Council is sitting down to debate the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. Meanwhile in the barren Libyan countryside brave opponents of Gaddafi’s brutal dictatorship, ‘revolutionaries’ as they like to be called, are doing their best to hold out against Gaddafi’s merciless assault. They have no heavy weapons just a collection of ancient Soviet anti-aircraft guns and small arms. Their cries for help have gone unheeded and unanswered.
The West appears paralysed, seemingly unable to differentiate between a selective intervention motivated by selfish national interest and a just intervention to prevent a genocide. Not a difficult call you might think with the Balkans failure still fresh in all our minds.
Yesterday Saif Gaddafi boasted that Benghazi would be liberated in two days. This is probably unlikely, but any battle for Benghazi will be very bloody indeed. Gaddafi’s band of mercenaries will show no mercy, his air force will show no discrimination between military and civilian targets – either deliberately or through incompetence.
Meanwhile in Washington Obama is being deliberative…or is it indecisive? The West dithers: the opportunity to rid the world of a man responsible for ordering the Lockerbie bombing, the murder of WPC Fletcher, supplying the IRA with arms, subjecting the Libyan people to 42 years brutal dictatorship and acts of gross inhumanity towards his fellow Libyans, is about to slip through our fingers.
Almost as important, if Gaddafi is allowed to prevail it will severely weaken the position of Arab reformers and give completely the wrong message to the Yemen, Bahrain and other repressive regimes in the Middle east.
Malcolm Rifkind suggested at PMQ’s yesterday that Egypt could be the conduit for the supply of arms to the revolutionaries. That may be an idea that could fly. If an NFZ – and perhaps a no-drive zone – could be imposed within the next 24 hours there may be some hope of rescuing the situation. Time is of the essence.
Cometh the hour, cometh…someone? Is unilateral action out of the question? Unfortunately the answer is almost certainly ‘yes’. I have a feeling that the West… the World is about to be found wanting. God help the people of Libya.