Saturday, 19 March 2011

Tripping on Tripoli

As you will soon learn, most of my news comes from either the BBC or CBC (Canada's Network! Oh My!). Today's headline was-

French salvo starts Libyan air campaign 

"A French fighter jet fired on a Libyan military vehicle, French officials said Saturday, in what appeared to be the first salvo in an international air campaign against forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi"

And while I read it, two things came to mind: One- why does France give a crap? And two- who are the Libyans exactly?

Let's head first to the CIA handbook for a basic rundown.

The basics are that the area was controlled by the Romans and Arab Islamic Rule till the Ottoman Empire – makers of fine furniture- who were back by the Spanish Habsburgs took control in 1551. The Ottoman Turks’ empire started to crumble in the late 1800s. Seeing their weakness, European colonial powers looked at all of Africa and wanted a chunk of the Turk’s empire. The Italians supplanted the Ottoman Turks in the area around Tripoli in 1911 and did not relinquish their hold until 1943 when defeated in World War II. Libya then passed to UN administration and achieved independence in 1951. The kingdom of Libya was formed and ran the country as an open door policy to Americans, Italians and British. 

The government was overthrown in a coup d’etat – French forget the hell out of power- by military officers of which one was Muammar Gaddafi. Who currently is in power and very unwilling to let it go.
So what about the French? Do they want a chunk of Libya for themselves? Nope- they are neighbors to Libya thanks to the Mediterranean sea along with Spain and Italy. Keeping their neighbors in line might be one reason. But more likely its to do with a disgust with NATO.

French President Sarkozy has been at the forefront of a push to intervene in Libya in recent days, as Gaddafi escalated his attacks on opposition rebels which France and others support. "Those taking part agreed to put in place all necessary means, especially military, to enforce the decisions of the United Nations Security Council," Sarkozy said. "We are doing it to protect the civilian population from the murderous madness of a regime that in killing its own people has lost all legitimacy, There is still time for Colonel Gaddafi to avoid the worst, by acting without delay and without reservations in accordance with all the demands of the international community. The door of international diplomacy will open again the moment attacks end." (From The Hindustan Times)

But France is pro UN and very anti NATO as the Americans dominate it. They would really prefer France be a leader in putting down Gaddafi and his generals. NATO's reputation in the Arab world as a result of Afghanistan is pretty weak as well. So- if France wanders in and starts the support of the rebels by the UN and its allies, France is the hero and NATO again is the bad guy.

Is this going to be a win-win for France? Is NATO going to enforce the no fly zone as well? Are the rebels just pawns to the French and NATO?  Will France kiss NATO and let him back in the house? Stay tuned…

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