|Libyan fighter jet shot down|
Nevertheless, Libya's revolutionary forces apparently appealed for more attacks against Gaddafi's soldiers on Sunday, encouraged by the weekend's onslaught that sent Gaddafi's troops into total disarray. Prior to this weekend, rebels were left without an answer to Gaddafi's tanks, which were moving quickly on Benghazi, the de facto revolutionary capital. While there is no doubt that coalition forces' air support has crippled Gaddafi's capacity to fight the Resistance, the question remains: what are the costs of foreign intervention in Libya's liberation struggle? So far, revolutionary leaders have made it clear that they welcome coalition air support, but unequivocally reject the presence of foreign troops on Libyan soil. Citing America's ongoing occupation of Iraq, Libyan revolutionaries have attempted to navigate the thin-line that exists between international support for the revolution and foreign appropriation of the uprising.
After weeks of indecision, superfluous debate, and intransigence, it should strike us as odd that the UN Security Council has decided to play such a prominent role in Libya's revolution. Since protests against Gaddafi's regime began on February 15th, Gaddafi has vowed to wage a brutal war against the uprising. Gaddafi's violent suppression of mostly peaceful protests led to an armed revolution that initially enjoyed widespread success. The tide turned, however, after it became clear that rebels' weapons were not nearly sophisticated enough to counter Gaddafi's military might. Rather than arming the rebellion with artillery and anti-tank weapons, however, the UN Security Council decided to engage Gaddafi directly. Although US officials deny that the goal of their attacks is to overthrow Gaddafi, by bombing his compounds and military bases, coalition forces have made it clear that Gaddafi is not safe in Libya.
To be sure, revolutionary forces in Libya do not need a "no-fly zone" or foreign air support to topple Gaddafi. Rebels are more than capable of defeating Gaddafi on their own, and simply need more material support to help level the playing field. Why did the UN Security Council choose direct intervention over furnishing Libya's rebellion with artillery and anti-tank weaponry? Is Obama seeking to compensate for his cowardly silence on the brutal repression of protesters in Bahrain and Yemen? Or is the UN Security Council concerned with the future of Libya's oil reserves?
Whatever the motivation, Libyans should be wary of the coalition forces, and must ensure that coalition soldiers stay out of Libya. The precedent being set in Libya is a precarious one; in this unpredictable age of revolution, western powers are struggling to maintain a strong foothold in the Arab world. Depending on how events play out in Libya, NATO forces may very well turn into regime-changing agents that use popular rebellions as an excuse to impose America's/Britain's/France's will on budding Arab democracies.
What happens if Gaddafi's regime doesn't totally collapse within the next week? For how long will coalition forces continue to bombard Gaddafi's outposts? What happens if more civilians are killed as a result of the coalition's efforts? Will the rebellion then turn its weapons against the NATO forces? If Gaddafi does fall, will the UN Security Council allow Libya's revolutionary bodies to have full control over Libya's political and territorial future? Or will the United States, Britain, and France use their military might to intimidate the rebels and undermine their unity?
There are no easy answers to these complicated questions. At this point, we can only hope that the uprising overthrows Gaddafi sooner rather than later, and gives coalition forces less of an excuse to linger. We must remember, though, that the United States, Britain, and France are not acting on behalf of Libya's genuine interests; if that were the case, then they would have provided rhetorical and material support to the uprising the moment it began. Instead, the UN Security Council has reasserted itself as the world's chief police force, and has guaranteed that Libya's future will be as much about Libya's freedom as it is serving American, British, and French interests.