Libyan military forces announced a ceasefire early today between Muammar Gaddafi loyalists and protesters, but the news was met with more air strikes over the Libyan capital Tripoli, including near the dictator’s residence.
The strikes involving US, British and France forces began on Saturday, after Friday’s declaration by the UN of no-fly zone. This morning the US military announced that the Coalition’s strikes were “significantly degrading” Gaddafi’s air defences.
Gaddafi’s son, Saif Gaddafi expressed shock at the West’s actions:
“Yesterday, we were surprised that … the Americans and the British and the French attacked Libya, attacked five cities. Terrorized people, and especially children, women, were so afraid yesterday… So it was big surprise that finally President Obama — we thought he was a good man and friend of Arab world — is bombing Libya.”
Just to clarify exactly where the other countries of the Middle East stand in response to the Libya protests — such as Egypt’s military, which is secretly supporting rebels, while Tunisia is keeping out — check out The Atlantic‘s list.
Here’s a round-up of how the commentariat are viewing the latest Libyan developments.
‘Shadow of Iraq looms over Libyan mission‘ by Greg Sheridan
“This is the decision the US, and Barack Obama, have dreaded from the first moment of his presidency – to make another substantial military intervention in a Muslim, Middle East nation.”
‘We can’t dodge the hard part stabilising Libya‘ by Alex Bellamy
“The resolution’s supporters must show the will to deliver. Having championed the cause so admirably, Australia cannot now leave the hard work to others.”
‘Watching, hoping it will not be long‘ by Daniel Flitton
“Battle plans rarely survive the opening shots of war, or so the old maxim goes. But it’s clear the Western and Arab countries bombing Libya are banking on this being a short and decisive campaign.”
‘No going back once the first shot’s been fired‘ by Paul McGeough
“No one is better placed than Bush to remind Obama of the hydra-headed monster that is war. This is not to say that there are no just wars. But the reality of the split second in which the first missile is launched, is that the best war plan immediately becomes useless as all parties become hostages to circumstances.”
New York Times
“Asked about the explosion, Vice Adm. William Gortney told a news conference in Washington that the United States was not on a mission to kill the Libyan leader. “At this particular point, I can guarantee that he’s not on a targeting list,” he said. But he added: “If he happens to be in a place, if he’s inspecting a surface-to-air missile site, and we don’t have any idea if he’s there or not, then —” He was interrupted by another question, and then said, “No, we’re not targeting his residence.””
‘In a field of flowers, the wreckage of war in Libya‘ by Kareem Fahim
“Littered across the landscape, some 30 miles south of Benghazi, the detritus of the allied airstrikes on Saturday and Sunday morning offered a panorama of destruction: tanks, charred and battered, their turrets blasted clean off, one with a body still caught in its remnants; a small Toyota truck with its roof torn away; a tank transporter still on fire. But it did not end there.”
‘5 questions few are asking about Libya‘ by Issandr El Amrani
“Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but while I’m glad that the multinational intervention is giving cover to Libyan insurgents, I’m rather shocked at the desultory coverage of what might come out of the military intervention. A tragedy has been taking place in Libya, whose people deserve help, but that doesn’t mean not thinking through consequences.”
‘Libya crisis may save Nicolas Sarkozy from electoral humiliation‘ by Jonathan Freedland
“It would surely be poor taste to accuse Nicolas Sarkozy of leading France into combat for purely selfish political reasons – but that won’t stop some in the president’s inner circle wondering if Operation Odyssey Dawn might just save the skin of a man who, a matter of days ago, seemed destined for electoral humiliation.”
‘Viewpoint: How Libya Became a French and British War‘ by Michael Elliott
First, I suspect that there is a genuine belief in both governments that while the U.S. is still the world’s balance wheel, the indispensable nation, it cannot do everything and should not be asked to — that the world is a more secure place if other democracies help the U.S. carry the diplomatic and military load of ensuring global stability. To be sure, such a policy can go disastrously wrong, as most British observers would say was true of their country’s alliance with the U.S. in the Iraq war. But that does not mean that the principle is worthless.
Second, it would not surprise me if both governments — and that of the U.S. — came to a conclusion that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair elaborated in an article in The Times of London and Wall Street Journal. When faced with a crisis like that of Libya, Blair argued, “Inaction is a decision, a policy with consequences. The wish to keep out of it all is entirely understandable; but it is every bit as much of a decision as acting.”