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‘ODYSSEY DAWN’ – THE LIBYAN CAMPAIGN

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On the same day, Saturday 03/19/2011, that French aircraft attacked Libyan forces near Benghazi and 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched against Libyan army targets, as part of operation ‘Odyssey Dawn’ – a broad international effort to enforce a UN-mandated no-fly zone (see -LIbyan Civil- War), the ongoing slaughter of foes to Laurent Gbagbo, the deposed president of Ivory Coast shelled indiscriminately an Abidjan market killing 26 people in just yet another episode. Also in the last weekend about 40 were killed in clashes with security forces in Yemen and over 70 were killed in clashes between the newly formed South Sudanese army and local rebels. The Western powers did almost nothing when the Iranian regime, in summer 2009, cracked down, brutally, on local protesters or to stop the ongoing killing of over 400,000 in Darfur Sudan in the past.

For some reasons, probably resentment toward Muammar Gaddafi himself, the Libyan oil reserves and the weakness of the Libyan army, the Libyan rebels deserve international protection while the others can proceed with killing their own civilians. It is still unclear whether oil is the blessing of Arab nations or their ongoing curse causing continued foreign intervention.

Libyan state television later said civilian areas of Tripoli and fuel storage tanks that supplied Misurata had been hit. It also claimed that 48 people had been killed and 150 others wounded in the attacks, but the report could not be independently verified.

Several thousands gathered at the Bab al-Aziziyah palace, Gaddafi”s compound in the capital that was bombed by US warplanes in 1986, to show their support and some say to provide a human shield to Muammar Gaddafi.

In response, Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, vowed to arm civilians to defend the country from what he called “colonial crusaders” aggression by western forces against him. “It is now necessary to open the stores and arm all the masses with all types of weapons to defend the independence, unity and honor of Libya,” Gaddafi said in an audio message broadcasted on state television hours after the strikes began.

He said Libya would exercise its right to self defense under article 51 of the United Nations charter, adding that the Mediterranean and North Africa were now a battleground. “The interests of countries face danger from now on in the Mediterranean because of this aggressive and mad behavior,” he said.

He also called on Arab, Islamic, African, Latin American and Asian countries to “stand by the heroic Libyan people to confront this aggression, which will only increase the Libyan people’s strength, firmness and unity”. Shortly after Gaddafi’s speech, a message on state television said Libya had decided to end its efforts to stop illegal immigration to Europe, citing a Libyan security source.

Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the USA president, said military action was not his first choice. “Today I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians,” Obama told reporters in Brasilia, Brazil (see also – Familiar-History ).

It is premature to evaluate the implications of the Libyan affair. If the Western powers will be able to reach conclusive results within two weeks the implication on Europe and USA status will be limited. But if it will take months – a Somali scenario in the Mediterranean, an ongoing civil war in Libya with elements from all over the Arab and Muslim world, including Al Qaeda, joining the fight and waves of Muslim  refugees  on the Southern shores of Europe, is a very realistic prediction.
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* Euphoric Libyan rebels have moved, on Sunday 08/21/2011 night, into the centre of the capital, Tripoli, as Muammar Gaddafi’s defenders melted away (see – Gaddafis Collapse).
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