BOSNIAN MEMMORIES HUNTS DIVIDED U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL OVER LIBYA’s NO-FLY ZONE:
By Erol Avdovic
|Lebanese ambassador Nawaf Salam: |
Arabs support non-fly zone over Libya?
(Photo UN - Debra Berkowitz 2011)
NEW YORK, (Webpublicapress – WPP) - To act or not to act, it is a rather Shakespearean dilemma at the UN Security Council - called to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya. Some even hinted -- it is now too little too late for imposing such no-fly zone, since forces loyal to Moammar Gaddafi have launched a counter-offensive against rebels getting much of the country under their control. Diplomats in New York stay defiant: “It is never too late”, the Security Council told reporters on Monday. It could be very difficult as well.
Evoking - not a great UN experience in Bosnia, French ambassador to UN, Gerard Araud, only a few weeks ago wasn’t sympathetic to the idea of a no-fly zone in Libya.
He told reporters in front of the Security Council - the no-fly “is a very, very difficult operation to manage.” Mr. Araud said - the no-fly zone would be “a war operation”. He said, at the time – no country among the 15 members of the council had proposed such action. The French ambassador recalled Bosnia, as bad memories for the UN which failed to protect civilians there – although no-fly zone was imposed over the country.
But ambassador Araud completely changed his heart on Monday and hoped the Security Council would be able to work on the new resolution on Libya – latter this week.
Araud found the support of the Arab League, which called for no-fly zone over Libya, as a “game changer” in the council, so the 15 members could move forward with the draft resolution.
“While the slaughter continues in Libya, I doubt that any Arab leader would side with anybody else than with the (Libyan) people, even though some of them would like to see Gadaffi stay (in power) because his end -- means the end of their own regimes,” said Nasser Husseini, an Al-Jazeera correspondent at the UN. “It is only a question of time now,” he adds.
Mr. Husseini does not see the Arab League as a “game changer” for the UN Security Council – to speed up and adopt the new resolution on the no-fly zone over Libya:
“It is only cosmetic,” he said: “If the West and Europe were threatened more we would have seen much more lobbing and action on this resolution”. In that case, Americans and Europeans wouldn’t need the “Arab approval,” states Husseini.
Brits and the French are now taking the lead in preparation of the draft resolution that has to define all the operational aspects of the no-fly zone. The United States has yet to decide on whether to support a no-fly zone or not.
Other “historical” skeptics on the possible no-fly zone over Libya, include the veto powers of China and Russia, now with Brazil, Germany and South Africa.
The likely candidate for implementing the no-fly zone NATO has made clear that Security Council authorization would be required if it was to get involved in such an operation. But NATO is a hesitant warrior as well because of Afghanistan’s engagement.
And Obama is not Reagan: Americans are still on the sideline over Libya, as they did with the “waiting game” during the Balkan wars some 20 years ago - waiting for Europe to take a lead for so long.
“In the very beginning of Libya’s situation, the (US) State Department was too diplomatic, which in my terminology means – was very much behind the times,” Mohammed (Mo) Sacirbey, a former Foreign Minister and ambassador of Bosnia to the UN – told WPP.
CALLCULATED ARAB SUPPORT
As expected the sole Arab state of the UN Security Council, Lebanon played a key role in the negotiations on a draft resolution, which, if adopted will authorize a no-fly zone. It was the Lebanese ambassador, Nawaf Salam who called for the council consultation on Monday.
But Salem was also among those who evoked the Bosnian experience. He said those who ask questions, weather the no-fly zone is possible over Libya, have the right to do so. Yet, “some questions could not be answered such as – weather the no-fly zone would be effective”, Salam said, mentioning “historical examples.”
A no-fly zone was imposed over Bosnia in late 1992 through the UN Security Council resolution 781. In the summer of 1995, crimes of genocide occurred in the city of Srebrenica, where some 8000 Bosniaks (Muslim) boys and men were killed by Serbs.
Lebanese ambassador Salam also told reporters - every Security Council member has the right to ask effectiveness of the no-fly zone, and whether it “would stop Gadaffi’s forces to fly his planes and attack his own population”. Salam confessed “no one has an answer” to that, bearing in mind what has happened in Bosnia more than 15 years ago.
“Will it work, or not? We can’t answer this question,” Salam said. “Unfortunately, in historical examples, such as Bosnia, in spite of the no-fly zone there was massacre that took place.” He added - not to say that the no-fly zone was useless in Bosnia: “But was not enough”, ambassador Salam concluded.
MORE BOSNIAN MEMORIES
According to the diplomat from inside the Security Council meeting - no real agreement was emerging out of this round of UN consultation. Russians continued to put “negative examples” of Bosnia, since most of the questions asked “remain unanswered.” The most important one was how the no-fly zone will be implemented in order to stop Gadaffi.
“Colonel Gadaffi may end up like Mussolini (Italian fascist leader in WW2, who was lynched and hanged by his own people),” Mr. Sacirbay said to WPP. He added, Russia and China my support Gadaffi’s removal from the throne, since “they don’t have affection to him”.
Saicirbay mentioned it was good that President Obama and the White House jumped ahead and supported the first resolution of the Security Council on Libya that implied the war crimes prosecution of Gadaffi by International Criminal Court (ICC).
“We will push hard to act on this no-fly zone as soon as possible,” Lebanese ambassador Salem almost promised reporters in New York.
The question is, what would happen if Gadaffi still stays in power for a while, as his Balkan pal Slobodan Milosevic, president of Serbia (and latter accused for war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia) did during the Balkan wars?
The question is also - could Gadaffi become a new Fidel Castro of Sahara. Wait and see, whether the Security Council is able to impose a no-fly zone over Libya first.