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LIBYA: Arab League head backs off after criticizing airstrikes

Picture 5 Arab League head Amr Moussa has qualified comments he made criticizing the reported civilian toll from Western airstrikes in Libya, telling reporters in Cairo on Monday that the Arab League and the U.N. Security Council are "united" on the need to protect civilians.

"[The Arab League] respects the U.N. Security Council resolution, and there is no contradiction," Moussa said.

"We will continue working to protect civilians, and we will ask everybody to take this into consideration in any military operation," he added."We have received assurances that these issues, especially the protection of civilians, will remain a unanimous goal for the U.N. and the Arab League."

A coalition force including France, Britain and the U.S. continued strikes against Libyan military targets on Sunday night and Monday morning, demolishing a building in a compound belonging to Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi. Coalition military officials claim the building was a military command center.

The bombardment campaign is intended to impose a no-fly zone over northern Libya and stop Kadafi's advance on rebel-held territories. The rebel-held city of Misurata appears to be under ongoing attack from pro-Kadafi forces, while Reuters reported sporadic explosions in and around Benghazi, the stronghold of the rebellion.

The BBC reported that a Libyan official claimed 64 people were killed in the weekend raids, but the network could not verify that number.

Approving Western-led military intervention in an Arab country has presented a new set of challenges for Arab leaders, some of whom are already facing a crisis of legitimacy at home. While voicing support for military assistance to the rebels in Libya, the Gulf Cooperation Council sent security forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates into Bahrain last week to suppress an anti-government uprising.

The head of the council on Monday reiterated the body's support for the strikes, affirming participation by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in the multi-national force, but he echoed Moussa's comment that the aim of the bombing was to save civilian lives.

"What is happening now is not an intervention," said Abdul Rahman bin Hamad al Attiyah, according to the Associated Press. "It is about protecting the people from bloodshed." 

Al Attiyah did not say whether Qatar and the UAE would be taking a direct role in the bombing campaign or would limit their role to provide logistical support.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: A screen shot of Arab League head Amr Moussa. Credit: Meris Lutz

Comments () | Archives (5)

War, conflict, only interests.

Amr Moussa is a mediocre stale apparatchik who is way out of his depth

His career was all about being a Mubarak toady and enabler.

The Arab world needs to take him and his type offstage as quickly as possible if it wants international respect and credibility.

The gap between the Amr Moussas and the thinking citizenry of the Middle East couldn't be wider.

I'm sure he regrets running his mouth like that now. I can just picture coalition leaders fuming and calling him the "backstabbing Arab" in their private moments. His gaff not only embarrassed himself but seriously hurt the credibility of the organization he heads. How opportunistic and cowardly is it that you yourself call for an action, and the agreed-upon action takes place, and you immediately condemn it in hopes of washing your hands of all negative fall out?

Curious how in all of the controversy about protecting anti-Kadafi Libyans the immediately neighboring Egyptian Air Force of several hundred modern warplanes seems never to be mentioned. It is all the more piquant as the Arab League members are reported to have all endorsed military action and the League head is an Egyptian with presidential aspirations. A "coalition of the willing" should include the USA and Qatar, but not revolutionary Egypt?
Curious also the predilictions of our own CinC/ex-instructor of Constitutional law: neither America nor individual Americans are under threat by the reprehensible Libyan dictator, yet US military force should be used against him without consulting Congress, only the Arab League and the UN. Justice Anthony Kennedy's habit of seeking foreign sources as guides must also be very congenial to him.

Everything known about the rebel leaders of what is essentially an inter-tribal conflict in Eastern Libya indicates they are anti-western to the point of supporting terrorism. Both Britain and France once had distinguished Arab experts in their foreign ministries but these days are long gone and our intelligence of the Arab “street” is unreliable. On what principles do we intervene when neither side threatens us, neither side possesses clear moral authority and both sides have their fair share of brutal thugs? No-one knows. One must hope that the Libyan incursion was not made for party political expediency but there is a farrago of cant coming from London and Paris which is disturbing.


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