15 April 2011

This Is No Rebel Alliance

A galaxy far away

The Libyan opposition declined to consider a peace proposal made by the African Union because it did not fulfill all of their demands. Before that they were outraged with Turkey for just considering proposing a peace plan. Judging by this reaction one would think they are riding atop armoured columns converging on Gaddafi's tent from all directions. Instead they are a rag-tag bunch with no hope of unseating Gaddafi on their own and are slowly ceding ground to him even with the help of NATO air cover.

An absurd situation on the face of it, but not truly. As I have written interventionism changes the dynamics of the war with which it interferes:
"The group on whose behalf intervention has been launched receives incentives to refuse to settle for terms they might have settled for before the intervention; they are now incentivized to hold out for a better deal secured by the might of the intervening power. This prolongs the crisis."
Therefore this sort of stance on the part of the rebels in Libya could be predicted, but the level of hypocrisy it has been packaged in is disturbing. The rebels will not stop talking about the need to protect civilians, but if that were their main concern they would have immediately accepted the cease fire on offer. The longer the fighting lasts the more civilians are going to be killed. Obviously their main concern are their war aims, and not the civilians.

As Daniel Larison noted they went so far as to chase away a Turkish humanitarian ship. This makes sense, the graver the humanitarian crisis the louder the calls to "do more". But how does that work into their supposed concern for civilians? Or their statement, highlighted by Pepe Escobar, that things were better for civilians when the US was more involved and the bombing was more intense? That takes real cynicism.

Question is are the rebels, who are throwing a fit over their country not being bombed more intensely, really the representatives of the masses that turned up for the giant anti-government demonstrations in February? Reportedly those demonstrations were huge, jet the rebels are few. Most Libyans seem to be standing aside, acting as if they do not have a horse in the race. And why wouldn't they? Has anyone explained what makes Abdel Fattah Younis preferable to Muammar Gaddafi?

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