Mideast news brief: Qaddafi threatens a new fight against no-fly zone
Qaddafi threatens a new fight against no-fly zone Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi announced on Turkish TV that Libyans would fight a no-fly zone. “If they take such a decision, it will be useful for Libya, because the Libyan people will see the truth, that what they want is to take control of Libya and to ...
Qaddafi threatens a new fight against no-fly zone
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi announced on Turkish TV that Libyans would fight a no-fly zone. "If they take such a decision, it will be useful for Libya, because the Libyan people will see the truth, that what they want is to take control of Libya and to steal their oil," said Qaddafi.
Qaddafi threatens a new fight against no-fly zone
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi announced on Turkish TV that Libyans would fight a no-fly zone. “If they take such a decision, it will be useful for Libya, because the Libyan people will see the truth, that what they want is to take control of Libya and to steal their oil,” said Qaddafi.
Meanwhile, world powers debate their next move to address the country’s crisis. While Britain and France seem to be in favor of implementing a no-fly zone, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has highlighted some of the difficulties in implementing such a measure. While Britain and France work to adopt a UN resolution to authorize the ban, it is unclear how Russia and China would vote. A spokesman for Gates insists that the Defense Secretary is not opposed to military action to protect Libyan rebels, including a no-fly zone, but wants to explore all possible consequences of intervening.
Other U.S. officials have said that since Qaddafi has solidified his control on parts of Libya, it has raised the stakes for the Obama administration’s internal debate about how to proceed in aiding the opposition. Pro-regime forces seemed to have taken control of the city of Zawiya, near the capital, which had previously been held by the rebels. “What we’re looking at right now-and things can change on a dime in these kinds of fluid conflicts-is basically a stalemate in certain parts of Libya,” another U.S. official said. “Gadhafi has solidified his control of some areas while the rebels have the upper hand in other places.”
- Thirteen killed in Egypt Christian-Muslim violence.
- Yemeni police fire on protesters.
- Three Shia opposition groups join forces and demand an end to Bahrain’s monarchy.
- UAE citizens petition rules for elected parliament.
- Tunisia court dissolves ousted president’s party.
Hundreds of oil ministry workers demonstrate against the corruption in the ministry demanding the removal of the general director and his assistants, during a protest in Firdus Square in the center of Baghdad on March 9, 2011. In the background is the 14Ramadan Sunni Muslim mosque (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images).
Arguments & Analysis
‘Why Middle East monarchies might hold on’ (Shadi Hamid, The Atlantic)
Shadi Hamid examines the differences between Arab monarchies and republics, and why the former might have a better chance holding on in the current atmosphere. “Protesters in monarchies lack a…clear mission. They face a more formidable opponent –kings can be just as repressive as presidents but can draw on greater religious and historical legitimacy, often allowing them to retain some popularity. Kings, in other words, manage to still be autocrats but in a less overt way, which is in part what makes their reign more acceptable to their people. Where Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya resorted to flagrantly rigged elections, monarchs in Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, and Kuwait hold reasonably free polls and permit legal opposition. It just so happens that these elections determine relatively little of real importance. Decision-making authority remains with the king and the cabinets that he appoints. These regimes have been able to create the illusion of reform even as they strengthened their grip on power. Jordan went from having, in 1992, the best ever Freedom House scores for an Arab country to full-blown authoritarianism fifteen years later.
‘Zero hour in Benghazi’ (Nicholas Pelham, New York Review of Books)
Nicholas Pelham examines the tenuous rebel forces in Libya as they continue to fight Qaddafi’s forces. “Will the rebel alliance survive? To date, inclusiveness has been its hallmark. For such a violent revolutionary regime, revenge killings have been remarkably infrequent-at least for now. Young urban lawyers sit side-by-side with tribal elders and Islamists on the National Council. A non-Islamist lawyer serves as the council spokesman, and a staunch secularist is charged with running Benghazi’s education. The politicians have also consciously wooed the armed forces; youth protestors and the old border guards man their side of the border with Egypt together. Still, the armed forces will likely remain too fragile to safeguard the revolution during the transitional period. Tribal irregulars, not the army, recaptured the oil-rich town of Brega west of Benghazi. The army has also proved unable to ward off tribesmen raiding by the truckload huge armories of such heavy weapons as Sam-7s abandoned by the colonel’s militias.”
‘Saudi Arabia’s day of rage’ (Hugh Miles, London Review of Books)
As Saudi Arabia braces for its own day of protests this Friday, it’s worth noting how they could end up with markedly different results than the Tunisian or Egyptian cases. Bottom line: “In the event that force is used, however, organisers expect the demonstrations quickly to turn violent: unlike in Egypt or Tunisia, in Saudi Arabia there’s a large number of guns in private hands. ‘In Saudi Arabia an estimated 80 to 90 per cent of families have a weapon in their house and around 50 per cent of those weapons are AK-47s,’ an opposition source told me. ‘If I go on a peaceful demonstration and I am shot by the police and I am the son of a tribe then 100 per cent definitely my brother will bring a Kalashnikov and kill the policeman who killed me and he will kill more, five or ten. They know this, the police, and so I’ve been told by many ordinary individuals and officers that no way will they shoot us even if they are given orders and if force is used it will backfire in a very aggressive manner.'”
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