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Escalation in Libya

Libya MCT

(MCT)

Moammar Gadhafi still remains defiant as the United States, France and the United Kingdom have become involved in the Libyan conflict. With the overwhelming violence against rioters, it was clear that other nations had to step in and help facilitate the retreat of Gadhafi’s supporters. The situation became a humanitarian mission to protect the people of Libya, warranting more involvement from the United Nations.

France was among one of the first countries to really support the opposition movement in Libya, going as far as to recognize them as a form of government. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton traveled to Paris two weeks ago to show American support for pro-democracy groups in Libya, as well as to sit down with other European leaders to discuss their options. At that point, the U.S. had maintained support for any opposition groups in the country, foreign sanctions and the freezing of any assets that the government could use against its people, but did not have any real plans of action.

The major development that led to more active U.S. involvement was the U.N. resolution that was passed establishing a no-fly zone over the country. After the implementation of sanctions against the regime was, for the most part, unsuccessful, the U.N. saw fit to put up the question of military involvement to a vote. The most surprising result of this vote was not the passing of the no-fly zone, but was the votes to abstain from Russia and China. Historically, both countries have voted against any violation of the sovereignty of nations. By abstaining, they both passively voted “yes” to the resolution, something that has not been seen since the first Gulf War in the 1990s.

The U.S. air strikes have been called a success in halting Gadhafi supporters. Supporters haven’t been easily deterred though, and have continued to attack the opposition. The latest news from the region reported attacks on hospitals. Although the United States has assumed a sort of leadership position for these strikes in a press conference by Barack Obama during his trip to Chile, the president stated this leadership role would only be temporary. After a few days, the leadership position will be transferred to an international means of control such as NATO. Ground troops have been absolutely ruled out in Libya; air strikes will be the only means of attack.

Throughout the world, Moammar Gadhafi has very few friends, even within the Middle East. At this point he has promised a “long war.” Although that is a statement no one wants to hear, it could very well end up being the truth. Even if he were to go into exile, Gadhafi’s life would be threatened by the enemies he has made during the last 40 years of rule. Gadhafi has few allies and at this point really has nothing to lose, except, of course, Libya.

Brittany McLellan can be reached at bmclella@student.umass.edu.

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