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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Libye. L’idée d’armer les insurgés ne fait pas l’unanimité

by Hassane Zerrouky

Libya: No Unanimity Around the Idea of Arming the Insurgents

Translated Wednesday 6 April 2011, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Gene Zbikowski

The furnishing of arms to the Libyan opposition is running up against the refusal of many member countries of the international coalition.

In London on March 29, the contact group (the European Union, NATO, the United States, the United Nations and some Arab countries, but without Egypt, which was absent) paid lip service to unity in the face of Muammar Qaddafi. The Libyan dictator must go, they announced. But how? There’s the rub.

On the ground, in effect, despite the air strikes, the insurgents are having a hard time holding their positions. “Nothing is definite,” a diplomat in London said in a sorry tone. So Qaddafi remains at the center of the game. To unblock the problem, Paris says it is ready to enter discussions with its allies on the subject of military aid to the insurgents. This solution, which Italy describes as “an extreme measure,” runs up against a lot of reticence, beginning with NATO general secretary Fogh Rasmussen, a Dane, who feels that the operation in Libya was prepared to protect the population, not to arm it!

Russia is warning the Western countries against arming the insurgents. The same goes for Norway, Denmark, and Belgium, although they are members of the international coalition. Germany and Turkey, as is known, are opposed to any military intervention. Finally, Chinese president Hu Jintao, who received French president Nicolas Sarkozy on his visit to China, warned that “the goal of the resolution (number 1973) is to stop the violence and to protect civilians,” but that “if military actions prove disastrous for innocent civilians and aggravate the humanitarian crisis, this could violate the original intention of the Security Council resolution.”

As for Barack Obama, he is carefully staying vague on the question. He has not excluded arming the Libyan insurgents, but he does not say that "this is going to happen," either. In fact, the Pentagon, which has admitted that it “does not know much” about the Libyan rebels, suspects that Al-Qaida activists are mixed in with them.

This is a fact that is admitted, even by NATO observers – elements of the GICL (Islamic Group for Combat and Liberation, which is affiliated with AQMI) and the Islamic party Ouma are fighting in the ranks of the insurgents. In a movement that is as heterogeneous as the Libyan “revolutionaries,” the Islamists do not, indeed, have any problem circulating!


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