My last post about the situation in Libya is dated March 17. So much has happened since then. On that same evening, the UN Security Council approved a resolution authorizing a no-fly zone and "all necessary measures to protect civilians". The draft was prepared by Lebanon, backed by France and Britain and approved by a total of 10 states. Five states abstained: China, Russia, Brazil, India and Germany. Bravo to Russia and China - they could impose a veto but they didn't. As for the other 3 - let me not call names but I don't want to hear a word about any of them becoming a permanent Security Council member in the foreseeable future, OK?
By the way, my Bulgaria also behaved in a shameful way. Our Prime Minister Borisov said that the intervention in Libya was a "reckless adventure" (avantyura) and he would never send Bulgarian military pilots to join it - as if anyone would want our Russian MiG planes that couldn't be reliably distinguished from Qaddafi's air force. Happily, Bulgaria is not in the Security Council now, so few people noticed; but we Bulgarians have to remember this next year when we go to the ballots.
Qaddafi declared a ceasefire almost immediately after the resolution, but it was only for external consumption. His troops, on the contrary, intensified fighting in an apparent attempt to win before anyone managed to implement the resolution. I remember how in the morning of March 19 I saw Benghazi shown in the Wikipedia map with the yellow colour of "ongoing fighting", and Al Jazeera reported that Qaddafi's tanks were entering the city.
Mohammed Nabbous was ready to meet them. This 28-yr-old blogger and citizen journalist had founded Libya Al-Hurra (Free Libya) TV in the early days of the protests. With his wife pregnant for first time, he had every justification to take shelter behind a thick wall. However, he decided to report what was going on in order to expose Qaddafi's lies to the world. As he was recording the attack with his cellular phone, he was shot in the head. Either Qaddafi's soldiers realized what he was doing, or - more likely - they simply regarded every human-shaped object as a target. Mohammed died several hours later.
Meanwhile, the coalition formed to implement the UN resolution finally stepped in. The first strike came from a French plane. Benghazi was saved, but in Musrata and some smaller towns the situation is still dire, people have ran out of everything and are being murdered by Qaddafi's mercenaries every day. I have no idea how this will end, I hoped for a swift and happy ending, but apparently things are not proceeding quite this way.
I am not going to describe the war in detail, let me just mention that I am disappointed both by the Coalition and by the rebel army. It seems, unfortunately, that the "Happy Arab" is right to call the operation "a mess" and "likely the most mismanaged operation in NATO's history". Indeed, this could be expected after the bitter experience of Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq made Western powers so reluctant to intervene in Muslim countries that now everyone is trying to hide behind his allies' backs. However, this is nothing compared to the armed forces of the Libyan opposition. Most of the foot soldiers are civilians turned into combatants overnight. They lack weapons, training and discipline. The commander, General Abdul (Abdel) Fatah Younis, was Qaddafi's interior minister until February. Let's leave aside his involvement with the regime - it is clear that you cannot begin anew and appoint 18-yr-olds to all positions. What is more worrying is his military experience and expertise, or the lack of it. Nobody says whether Gen. Younis prior to February 2011 had ever fought an enemy actually able to shoot back. We do not know anything about his military education and service, if any. He is not trying to build infrastructure of defence, so Qaddafi's tanks roll, roll, roll gently down the roads as they wish and advance hundreds of kilometers per day. Instead of thinking how to retake the lost territory, Gen. Younis is delivering press conferences, telling how NATO is a problem rather than an asset for not fighting all the Libyans' battles for them. He is apparently the sort of buraucrat who, instead of doing his job, will produce a brilliant explanation why it is your fault that his job has not been done. I hope somebody soon reappoints him to organize the traffic lights or do some other job where he would be less harmful.
The good news is that my blogger friends in Tripoli gave a sign that they are OK.
Let me finish with a quote from the post Libya and the International Moral Question by Libyan-British writer Ghazi Gheblawi: "Libya didn’t come into existence as a nation until after 1943 when the allied forces of WWII occupied the country, and with the help of many nations and the newly formed United Nations, declared its independence in 1951. It was through the help of the international community that Libya was liberated from the horrors of Italian colonialism, and as the Libyan representative to the UN said few weeks ago on the floor of the security council ‘Libya was established through a United Nations resolution, now once again it needs the United Nations help’." Let's hope this help will become more effective.