If The West Won’t Come, Look To The East

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A Kingdom of Libya flag is waved from a building in Zawiyah, as anti-Gaddafi protesters cheer below.

As news filtered through yesterday regarding the supposed vote on a UN resolution (to take place later this week or early in the next one) to implement a no-fly zone in Libya, it became clear that Libya will receive no aid from the West. Despite vocal support from David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, the West failed to live up to its own high standards of freedom and liberty.

The US felt that any action should be taken through the United Nations, which is the reasoning behind the vote meant to take place later this week. The irony behind that statement of faith in the UN is overwhelming. Where was the need for permission from the UN when the US intervened in Kosovo? Afghanistan? The Iraq War? How ironic that the country that is most representative of modern ideals of democracy and liberalism suddenly disappears from the spotlight when it has the greatest ability to provide a positive result on the situation?

Over the past week the question of whether US intervention in Libya would be a good idea has been debated back and forth in the American media. While Cameron and Sarkozy made it clear that they were prepared to implement a no-fly zone, Obama remained ominously silent, as he had with the Revolution in Egypt, and earlier with the revolt in Tunisia.

Now as we sit and wait for the UN draft resolution vote, there is only on relevant question: is it too late? Pro-Gaddafi forces are closing in on Benghazi, and despite vowing to fight to the death, if Benghazi falls, then the Libya Revolution will surely fall with it. While everyone has looked to the West to aid the Libyan rebels, it might be prudent to look a little to the east, or just across the border.

Despite being in political turmoil and still reeling from a revolution that ended little more than a month ago, no one is better placed to aid Libya than Egypt. Relations between Libya and Egypt have never been particularly warm, for a host of different reasons, but the two neighbours now have a common thread that ties them together: the urge for freedom from tyranny and a democratic system of government.

If the West had wanted to get involved they could have easily. The US has a a fully equipped base in Gibraltar, while France is across the Mediterranean, and the UK is based in Malta. A naval blockade that would ensure that no goods were smuggled into or out of Libya would be feasible, and a no-fly zone would not be difficult to implement. And yet the reluctance to intervene remains palpable and could very likely have already condemned this revolution to failure.

Egypt has always been a leader in the Middle East. After Tunisia sparked the fire of revolution, Egypt stoked it till it was roaring and achieved a result never believed possible. Egypt is now meant to develop into a democracy, separate of the old systems of government that have dominated Middle Eastern thinking for the past 60 years and more. What better way to show that it is moving out of the shadow of backward thinking and towards a pro-freedom mindset than helping the nation to its west when it is at its most vulnerable? The Arab world has admitted that Gaddafi has lost legitimacy, and the Arab League has expressed support for a no-fly zone, so there is no reason to not openly support the rebel forces. After all, the Egyptian people were in this very position a month ago, and if these roles had been reversed, would Egypt not be eternally grateful for any intervention towards its cause that was forthcoming from Libya?

Egypt has one of the strongest air forces in the Middle East, certainly stronger than the ill-equipped contingent that is operated by Gaddafi’s forces. Not a single soldier need set foot on Libyan land, and indeed this is an uprising that must be conducted by the Libyan people, and yet a no-fly zone and naval blockade would certainly be options well-worth considering. It would be in Egypt’s own interest to intervene, as it would surely gain an ally for the future, and it would be much more secure with a democratic government next door, rather than one controlled by tyrannical maniac. If any single nation can empathise with the people of Libya, would that nation not be Egypt?

Finally, if Egypt did intervene in order to promote freedom and liberty, it would signal to the West that it is a nation that is truly intent on upholding those ideals, and that it can succeed where the West fails. It would be a first step that would herald the arrival of a truly new Egypt. One can only hope that it is not too late and that Benghazi can hold on in the face of a full onslaught by Gaddafi’s forces.

For a somewhat contrasting viewpoint go here.

Dylan Ratigan interviews French writer Bernard-Henri Levy, who gives a passionate speech in support of the Libyan rebels and foreign intervention to aid them:


Written by BraveNewEgypt

March 16, 2011 at 3:42 am

Posted in Post-11.02.2011

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