Who Is To Blame?
To gain insight into the thought process of a leader of the likes of Idi Amin, one must try to figure out what drives a fanatic-such as him. Most of us are aware that behind the facade of a bigot there is a staunch supporter of equality for women/or atleast of a man who appears to give equal status to women. And I would rather stand up in support of the latter view point.
From recent reports we know of one of his famous nurses, who is a Ukranian, and fled Libya. The female in discussion also owned up that she didnt flee out of fear of the man whom she knew as 'Papik' or little father, rather she did it for personal reasons (as she was four months pregnant with the child of her Serbian Boyfriend). She confesses to being treated as royalty while she was acting as a nurse in the team of Muammar Gaddafi and trashes the claims that the nurses were a part of Gaddafi's harem.
Gaddafi's only daughter Ayesha-Al-Gaddafi(who was once married to Idi Amin) is a lawyer and was in the team defending Saddam Hussein. Ever since her divorce, she has been re-married.
Other than that, Gaddafi has an army of women bodyguards who have been adequately trained in martial arts.
While some contest that all of these facts might be evidence of his idiosyncracies, he is the only dictator alive ( and of importance) who has in fact shown such trust in women.
Getting back to the US-Libyan attacks, we must start with the 'freedom of the seas' which was/is one of the main issues between the two nations and can be termed as the germinating point of their hostile relationship.
'Freedom of the seas' was one of President Woodrow Wilson's fourteen points which was proposed during the First World War. According to the proposal, every country would have freedom to navigate the water which surrounded any other nation as it was his contention that the waters were all common, unlike territory. The concept was highle opposed by Germany, France and Britain- who rejected it.
Freedom of the Seas was replaced by United Nations Convention on the Laws of the sea. However, when in 1945, the then President of the United States, Harry S Truman, himself extended the rights of his nation to the entire continental shelf surrounding his States, many other countries like Argentina, Chile, Ecudor and Peru extended their rights to a distance of 200 nautical miles while other nations extended their territorial seas to 12 nautical miles.
However, till about 1982, when United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) III was present, the original UNCLOS was adapted and adjusted as per the policies of different nations because no consensus could be reached.
This time of confusion was also the period when in 1973, Gaddafi claimed much of the Gulf of Sidra to be within Libyan territorial waters by drawing a straight line between Benghazi and Misrata with an exclusive 62 nautical miles (115 km) fishing zone. Gaddafi declared it 'The Line of Death', the crossing of which would invite a military response.
Somehow this practice of actively charting out a region, calling it the line of death was inacceptable to the US and as per its standard practice, the US claimed its rights to conduct naval operations on international waters, at a distance of a standard of 12 nautical miles from Libya's shore. Gaddafi claimed it as territorial sea as opposed to a purely coastal area of the region.
If we look back, a lot of discussions could have been initiated from either of the two sides which would have saved a lot of lives and limb, however, the United States chose to authorize its naval forces to conduct 'Freedom of Navigation' operation in the 'Line of Death.'
For some time it was reported that military planes of the US were harassed by Libyan fighter planes, but till 1973, no major voilence was witnessed in the region.
On March 21, 1973, when Libya encounted US Air Force planes conducting signals intelligence off the Libyan coast, they intercepted and fired on the US planes. What is to be noted is that even during the clash, Libyan fighters gave signals to the C-130 of the US to land in Libya, but the American Planes chose to take evasive action. As a result the Libyans restored to firing cannons on these planes; however, the C-130 were able to escape from the spot.
What poses a question here is that if the Americans were not within 75 nautical miles from the Libyan coast then why would they try to flee, despite the fact that they were asked to land in the area?
Once again in 1986, United States Navy deployed three aircraft task force groups with 225 aircraft and approximately 30 warships across the "Line of Death" and into the disputed Gulf of Sidra. What followed was a day of conflict and an unknown number of human lives were lost in the process. Lot of harm was done to the Libyan territory, even though the Americans escaped unhurt.
Two weeks later there was a bomb explosion in La Belle of West Berlin, which resulted in wouding 200 people and killing three. Initially, Libya was targeted as the master mind of these bombings as Gaddafi had publicly announced that revenge would be sought from Western powers. The judge in the trial, on the other hand, admitted that it was not clear whether Gaddafi or Libyan intelligence had actually ordered the attack. Once again, the United States claimed to have obtained cable transcripts from Libyan agents in East Germany.
After several days of the incident, which witnessed US President Ronald Reagen entering into diplomatic talks with European and Arab forces, 37 fighter planes were ordered to strike targets in Libya. The attack lasted for about ten minutes, but killing Two American airmen, Forty-five Libyan soldiers and government officials as well as fifteen civilians. One of those killed was a child nammed Hannah, who is said to be the adopted daughter of Colonel Gaddafi. 2000 people were injured in the incident.
Whether the incidence is quoted to be a retributive measure is a questionable fact; evidently it caused much more harm than any punishment would ever suffice to guarantee.
In 1988, the 'Lockerbie Bombing' of Pan Am Flight 103 was witnessed in which former intelligence officer of the Libyan Government, Megrahi was the key accused. He was found guilty by the court even though the verdict was condemned widely as being a "spectacular miscarriage of justice". The appeals were repeatedly denied and delayed. Finally, Colonel Gaddafi compensated the victims of the crash in an attempt and formed diplomatic ties with the nations to secure release of his innocent officer.
As on this day, Colonel Gaddafi maintains that all his acts since his declaration of peace have been for defence purpose and he is not involved in any form of social injustice; he claims that his acts are misquoted by western media in an effort to deface him. It is widely known that he Muammar Gaddafi has publicly supported a lot of authoritarians, while he vehemently accused the western forces of America and Europe. Whether this support can be construed as his involvement in incidents of disruption of peace is definitely questionable.
On 17th March, 2011, the United Nations passed UNSCR, 1973 wich was proposed by France, Lebanon and UK and is adoped as a measure to ensure stability in Libya's condition. Ten members of the Security Council voted their approval for the resolution to be passed, while five of them including Russia and China (who are permanent members) abstained from voting. India was a part of the five who did not vote.
The Resolution vows to use all means necessary to protect civilians in Libya. According to a news report today, the US vows to support the rebels and provide all aid to them; the money which they propose to be so utilised would be drained out of Gaddafi's securities held with the States.
To me, the whole scenario is reminiscent of the situation in Nicargua in 1984, when the Americans were supporting the Rebels of that region. In the case, The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America, the ICJ declared that America's stance was unlawful and without justification and nicargua won the case while US questioned ICJ's authority to sit in judgement. However, USA made sure that it blocked UN Security Council from enforcing the judgement and escaped without paying any compensation. This time too, a similar situation has arisen, what is sad is the fact that the world chooses to be blindfolded.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Who Is To Blame?