BBC News – Viewpoint: Libya intervention ‘brings huge risks’.

Steve Clemons, in this article for the BBC, argues well against the institution of a no-fly zone over Libya, claiming that we should not distract from the rebels themselves, and impose a “Western” no-fly zone that would only serve to bolster Gaddafi’s rhetoric against the West’s neocolonialism.

This is entirely true. However, I don’t agree that we can’t have a no-fly zone.

I think that this article unfortunately suffers from the problem of blogging and journalism. With major events, such as the rebellion in Libya, events move so quickly, that articles and posts may be out of date and redundant within hours of publishing. In this case, it was out of date even when it was published.

Clemons points to the Arab League’s denial of the possibility of a no-fly zone. Mere minutes before this article came up on the BBC RSS feed, the BBC also posted a report on how the Arab League (unanimously, with the exceptions of Syria and Algeria) had declared their support for a no-fly zone over Libya.

So…nice post, but a little late, Mr Clemons. Sorry.

With this latest development last night, the situation has changed dramatically, and a no-fly zone might now be feasible. I agree that the West can’t appear to be neocolonialist in Libya, but if the Arab states, probably Saudi Arabia and Egypt, take the lead on this, and impose the no-fly zone themselves, the perspective changes. No longer is this a neocolonialist venture by the US, with its already tarnished reputation in the Arab world, but a pan-Arabic solidarity move with the protestors.

Admittedly, there are still problems. China, and perhaps Russia, will have to be convinced to support it in the UN Security Council. Logistical issues, such as where to place the monitoring systems, will have to be overcome. But with the Arab League’s support of a no-fly zone, we’ve taken a major step in finally, after so many decades, toppling Gaddafi.

The other developments in Libya.

  • CNN is showing video of women in Benghazi holding print-outs of the French flag, with “Merci France” emblazoned on it.
  • Ali Aujali, the Libyan ambassador to the United States, and Abdel Rahman Shalgam, the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations, have both defected to the opposition.
  • Ali Aujali was quoted as saying that the opposition is seeking, in terms of US military aid, “anything but physical presence on our soil”.
  • The Arabian Gulf Oil Company, Libya’s second-largest state-owned oil company, announced it will use oil sales to fund the opposition.
  • Gareth Evans, the former Foreign Minister of Australia, and proponent of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, claimed that Libya is a perfect case for military intervention.
  • BREAKING NEWS: Gaddafi loyalists have captured the city of Brega, on the way to Benghazi and Tobruk, the main opposition held cities. Forces are closing in on Misrata, the last major Western opposition held city.