Obama’s “Jehad” in Libya
The Nobel Peace prize winner, Obama now has a war of his own making in Libya, because he was not at all satisfied with the wars he inherited from Bush. Now from his imperial presidency, he is hell-bent on taking this war to greater heights than even Bush could do in Afghanistan and Iraq. From the Eastern Room of the White House, he gave his toughest speech saying: “Libya was central to the whole wave of challenges in the Middle East and now is the opportunity to realign our interests, in pursuit of the UN resolution and all steps will be taken, short of the boots, to get Gaddafi.”
It appears Obama is looking for another Kosovo or Kuwait, although Libya is altogether a different ballgame. In such great haste, the Operation Odessy Dawn was launched, killing hundreds of civilians, damaging Gaddafi’s air defense and military command and control systems. Hundreds of targets have been engaged by Tomahawk missiles, while the allied air forces of Great Britain, France, Italy and Canada, have engaged military targets around Benghazi and Tripoli. In fact a massive air attack has been launched without a clear-cut strategy, trying to restrain the “murderous madness of Gaddafi, and if necessary targeted actions will be taken,” (meaning assassination) as Sarkozy, the French President has declared. The Prime Minster of Great Britain, has warned “Gaddafi has lied to the international community. He must go, by whatever means possible.” Thus Gaddafi has become an end in itself for the West, making the war personal and that is where, this war launched in such haste, by this ‘Unholy Alliance,’ is likely to go haywire. Let us count the pit-falls:
The war has no clear-cut objective. Is it to get Gaddafi dead or alive; or protect the civilians being killed by Gaddafi; or despite such display of ‘Shock and Awe’ can the airpower alone eliminate Gaddafi? The NATO airpower bombed Serbia for 78 days to get Milosevic, how many days the coalition air power will take to get Gaddafi? And suppose, Gaddafi gets eliminated, who can stop his son or some one else to carry the banner forward? And if the main objective is to gain control over the strategic oil producing regions of the country, that would be possible only by physically invading the land. Who amongst the allies would be willing to land troops and bell the cat? The air operations “would fast be sliding down the slippery slope into a full blown campaign of regime-change” and that won’t be fine with the State Department, without the troops on land.
The air assault is not likely to produce even short-term gains. The conflict will prolong, with serious consequences. The Arab World opinion in particular and the Muslim World in general, will turn against the invasion of a Muslim country, which posed no threat to any of the countries of the ‘Unholy Alliance’. For sure, Gaddafi would emerge as the champion of the Arab cause. And the worst that will happen is that, very soon the Jehadis from Iraq, Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries, particularly the Takfeeris from Iraq will start pouring-in to liberate the Muslim land, as it happened in Afghanistan in 2001. The rebels in Libya are joining Gaddafi’s loyalists, to face the external threat, the same as the armed forces of Shah of Iran, joined the Islamic revolutionaries, to defeat the Iraqi invaders, in 1980-88. The powerful Salafi leader, Abu Masab, now has joined the Jehad against the ‘Crusaders’. In 1996, the CIA had bribed Abu Masab to assassinate Gaddafi, but failed. Now, he is getting arms and ammunition from Gaddafi. In fact, Libya is another Afghanistan in the making. Obama ignored Pentagon advice and also failed to consult the Congress for waging the war. Reportedly, in taking this decision, “Obama bowed to pressure from a triumvirate of women in his administration - Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan Rice.”
In fact Obama acted Pervez Musharraf, who in 2001, agreed to all the ‘Seven Conditionalities of Pentagon’ without consulting his cabinet or the military command and joined the immoral American war on Afghanistan - a neighbourly Muslim country, that had done no harm to Pakistan. Pakistan continues to suffer the consequences of this fatal decision. The Arab League and the OIC feel cheated, because the UN resolution was to impose a no-fly-zone over Libya, followed by sanctions, but it turned into a full-fledged attack by the Western Alliance. The distrust so created, will have serious consequences. The Invasion will also arouse Arab nationalism, that will assert itself, despite the divisions and dissentions within. The war by the international coalition will also dampen the democratic awakening in the Middle East and particularly risks changing that narrative in Libya.
By accepting the demand of the UN resolution, for a ceasefire, Gaddafi “in one move has reversed the most powerful argument behind the UN revolution,” and has prevented the massacre in Benghazi. Gaddafi would thus retain control over most of the land, and the rebels will lose popular support. The Russians and the Chinese did not veto the UN resolution, because they wanted the West to be militarily drawn into Libya, the same as in 2001, the Americans blundered into Afghanistan, with Russia and China supporting the UN resolution. The West expects to win the war quickly, but that is a pipe-dream and no victory is in sight and the expected military glory in Libya, is elusive as in Iraq and Afghanistan. No doubt, this war is Obama’s Kargil into Libya.
The fact of the matter is that, another Muslim country has been invaded with such arrogance of power, which is seen as continuation of the last thirty years of state-sponsored terrorism against the World of Islam: such as, the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1978-80; the eight years war of liberation by the Afghans, from 1980 to 88; the eight years Iran-Iraq war from 1980-88); the first Gulf War of 1991; the nine years civil war in Afghanistan from 1992-2001; invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by USA and the allies, 2001; invasion and occupation of Iraq by USA since 2003; Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006 and the on-going brutal wars in Palestine and Kashmir, together have caused the death of over six million Muslims and many more seriously wounded and maimed. And the crime continues, with new ferocity. What will be the outcome of this war on Libya - the “mediaeval call for crusades” as described by the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, explains the very hollowness of the civilized behaviour of the very civilized world. It is the Muslim World that would suffer with more death and destruction and pillage of yet another country, while, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Kashmir, continue to burn and bleed.The oppressors of the world have to give a chance to peace but that is not to be, because the New Great Game has just begun - the Saudi and GCC armed forces have entered Bahrain, under the watchful eyes of the West. The fire so lit, will spread far and beyond.
—The writer is former Chief of Army Staff.