Action against Gaddafi | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 21, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 21, 2011


Action against Gaddafi

Diplomatic options must be explored

Libya is under armed attack from the United States, United Kingdom and France. The action against Tripoli, mandated by a UN Security Council resolution, with significant abstentions has been taken to prevent the autocratic regime of Muammar Gaddafi from attacking and killing his own people, who have in these past few weeks made it clear that they want him out of power. For his part, Gaddafi has not helped matters any by vowing to show no mercy to those who have risen against him. His chilling warning that his forces will conduct house to house and room to room searches to locate his opponents has only demonstrated the desperate straits his people are in.
That said, it is a matter of huge concern that military action by the Western powers against Gaddafi now threatens not just the regime but the future of Libya as well. That Gaddafi's hanging on to power can only worsen matters for his people is not in question. The bigger issue, though, is the dilemma the air attacks on Libya pose for those Libyans who want him out. In the first place, the attacks will likely cause civilian deaths and injuries while taking the anti-Gaddafi initiative out of the protestors' hands. In the second, it could lead to Libya's becoming another Iraq or Afghanistan, with perhaps foreign soldiers eventually marching into the country. The worries are immense.
There is yet time for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. To be sure, there is the need to prevent Col. Gaddafi from carrying on the way he has, indeed to convince him that for the good of Libya he must go. But that is a task calling for other kinds of pressure, a focused and relentless imposition of sanctions for instance. In the past, sanctions have worked well, though they have taken longer to convince tyrants they must leave.
We urge all concerned that the Libya issue be handled diplomatically, through engaging the Arab League and the African Union. Gaddafi rather than killing his own people should take the path of diplomacy. The point is one of how to forcefully persuade the Libyan regime into submission without causing long-term damage to the liberty and territorial integrity of Libya. And intervention is no option.

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