Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Here we go again!

Fri 18 March 2011, 7:45am

So the old imperial powers Britain and France are the ones to take the lead in stopping Gadaffi. MOD sources are telling the BBC that they expect British forces to be in action “within days”. France has just forecast military action against Libya “within hours.”  This may be  a bluff -calling move  to press Gadaffi to call an halt on his promised advance on Benghazi “within  hours.” But whose bluff is about to be called?  America’s studied  refusal to take a military lead  gives David Cameron a degree of political cover from critics at least in the early phase. Certainly the Lib Dems are on board this time, for a mission that has clear UN legal approval.  Yet this is a mindboggling course of action for a nation that has just announced cutting its defence capability to near the point of impotence for a decade. 

The UN Resolution authorises all action short of boots on the ground.  That seems like an open ended commitment and does not rule out regime change. It still leaves Gadaffi with plenty of room for manoeuvre.  If he obeys the UN call for a ceasefire what do we do then?  . If on the other hand he storms Benghazi nobody believes a no fly zone can stop him. The logic of this situation  appears to contradicts  the resolution’s strict ban on “any foreign occupation on any part of Libyan territory.”  The risk of mission creep is as obvious as it is unpalatable. 

The idea of Egyptian troops crossing a border to the west would raise disquiet to say the least with Egypt’s neighbour to the east, Israel. Other local candidates for involvement are precisely the same Gulf States and Saudi Arabia who are either currently involved in supressing dissent or in supporting that suppression.

 Leading defence analysts in the British press are very wobbly. Max Hastings in the FT accuses the US’s decision to support Anglo-French proposals for a Libyan no-fly zone as “ no more than a cynical gesture” and does not see the vital British interest to justify military intervention. Patrick Cockburn, the Independent’s great reporter of the Iraq imbroglio warns that “ the course of such a conflict is impossible to predict.”

And yet.. here we go again.  

From the UN Resolution  1973 (2011)  on Libya 

 Protection of civilians

“4.   Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council;

 

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Comments (46)

  1. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    Gadaffi has to go.

    For years he was a sponsor of terrorism as we know all too well to our own cost. While efforts had been made to rehabilitate him in the name of oil supplies and lucrative appointments for former Labour politicians (sorry……peacemaking in the Middle East) after this there can be little doubt that , were he to win the battle to stay in power, in revenge he would revert to his old ways.

    We are therefore all at risk again until he goes.

    As for the UK and France doing it, well it looks like three or four countries may join in and the Arab League has supported it. He is now a true pariah and sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

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  2. JAH (profile) says:

    “So the old imperial powers Britain and France are the ones to take the lead in stopping Gadaffi.”

    But what’s the alternative? By no doubt intimidation fear and executions, Ghadaffi steadied his core units and facing effectively a collection of civillians, the end is easy to predict. So we wring our hands, do nothing and lament?

    It’s an impossible situation. there is no fence to sit on. We either withdraw entirely from any say in the world’s events and allow the BRIC collection to run the world in some sort of benign laissez faire hands off policy.

    Or accept that since 1939 the UK ends up in a role that it doesn’t want but can’t avoid. There is a clear direction for human history and development.

    We may have lost our moral compass in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean we can’t intervene when there is clearly a greater injustice to be prevented. There were no winners in Iraq but there may be in Libya plus it means no other Arab Govt can resort to the same methods in future (and note how they’ve become gung ho in the past week).

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  3. Chris Donnelly (profile) says:

    plus it means no other Arab Govt can resort to the same methods in future (and note how they’ve become gung ho in the past week).

    JAH
    Naivety of breathtaking proportions there. Those states will have no doubt noted the absence of similar threats of UN sponsored military action against them and are quite likely acting with tacit approval as they imitate Gadaffi’s shameful suppression of his own people.

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  4. Its like the last ten minutes of a very bad B western.
    The UN Resolution is passed only after its clear that the Bahrain “uprising” has been suppressed with only token and not very convincing opposition from the “West”.
    But theres a Sunni–Shi-ite fault line running thru the Arab Spring……and thhe immediate future looks bleak with Iran playing a role (spurred on by a genuine sense of grievance at the Wests lack of balance).
    But the non-US Cavalry/Air Force riding to the rescue of the defenders in Fort Benghazi/Fort Abrahan Lincoln is very unconvincing. Its only a matter of time before a cluster bomb is dropped “in error” on a mosque.
    As I have no dog in the fight, I have no vested interest in supporting one or other side. But if Gaddafis call for a ceasefire is credible, where des that leave the West? Some things fail….some deserve to fail.

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  5. JAH (profile) says:

    Chris Donnelly wrote

    AH
    Naivety of breathtaking proportions there. Those states will have no doubt noted the absence of similar threats of UN sponsored military action against them and are quite likely acting with tacit approval as they imitate Gadaffi’s shameful suppression of his own people.

    Lets see what happens in the Yemen over the next week. The President has just effectively ended any support outside of his country…and his own one way trip to Saudi.

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  6. Well, at least if the Libyans send up their Dassault Mirage F1s (that haven’t yet defected to Malta) the French should know how to shoot those down…

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  7. HeinzGuderian (profile) says:

    Brian and Fitzy would prefer dear aul Oirland to take the lead…………..( excuse me while I laugh )….ahahahaha ;-)

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  8. On the contrary..just like Malvinas, Iraq, Afghanistan, I have no kith or kin involved and am entirely neutral. Academic interest only. It would be wrong of me to take a side as effectively Id be hoping for the life or death of people with whom I have no bond of loyalty or quarrel.

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  9. vanhelsing (profile) says:

    hey fitz surely you mean falklands :)

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  10. well as a neutral I should probably say both. But with Malvinas being 8 letters and Falklands being 9 letters…it obviously saves time……my sole consideration….obviously.

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  11. abucs (profile) says:

    quote “If he obeys the UN call for a ceasefire …………”

    Does the UN have juristiction in Libya?

    Shouldn’t that be “If he accepts (or agrees to) the UN call for a ceasefire…..”

    I am no fan of Gadaffi but if you are going to choose winners and losers in Libya (by your military) won’t other countries dissidents start their own wars against their leaders in the hope Britain/France will be consistent? It could potentially turn very ugly.

    And exactly which regime are British and French soldiers going to be supporting in Libya? Are they unified? Do they share Britains/France’s outlook Do they have popular support or will the anti Gadaffi movement turn on them – and thus Britain/France? What will happen to the Gadaffi supporters in the new Libya?

    Can you control what will happen next? Will you like what happens next? If the answer in no, or not sure, i say stay the Hell away.

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  12. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    “it could potentially turn very ugly”

    It will do anyway

    ” which regime are British and French soldiers going to be supporting”

    Ideally a democratic one but that is up to the Libyans

    “Do they share Britains/France’s outlook”

    Largely irrelevant to the issue of genocide

    ” What will happen to the Gadaffi supporters in the new Libya?”

    Some will melt away. Some will be tried for a wide range of crimes. I expect a few will be hanged

    “Can you control what will happen next?”

    Nope – its a matter for the Libyans

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  13. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    “I have no kith or kin involved and am entirely neutral.”

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

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  14. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    “If on the other hand he storms Benghazi nobody believes a no fly zone can stop him”

    I do. Its not just a no fly zone. It authorizes ground attacks of units attacking civilian areas

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  15. fordprefect (profile) says:

    Where is all the screaming and shouting about Bahrain? They called for (and got) “assistance” from the UAE and Saudi Arabian troops to put down an uprising. Same in Saudi itself where the powers that be warned people that if they protested they would be met with the full rigours of the law (meaning they would kill people who dared to protest). As for “democracy”, the Yanks, Brits etc. called for “democracy in Palestine and what happened?, the people in Gaza elected Hamas and then it was “Oh No” you elected the wrong ones etc. etc. etc.

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  16. Cynic2..thats an interesting thing to say.
    Although not particuarly original.
    I think the point about Jews, Socialists, Communists is that they were within the borders of a country. I dont think France and Britain went to war for them in WW2…twas actually about Czechoslovakia.
    And of course Belgium, Holland, USA, Luxembourg did not go to war over Czechoslovakia. They went to war over …getting attacked. They were neutral.
    And Sweden, Switzerland et werent attacked and didnt go to war at all. They were neutral.

    If they come for Jews, Socialists, Communists, I will stand up. So will you. Republicans, Loyalists here ….Im sure you and I will be the first to oppose our “own” State……just like in your little manifesto.

    Taking sides is better than not taking sides? Or perhaps youve joined Al Queda and rushing out to Afghanistan because they didnt come for the Jews, Socialists etc……they came for the Islamists. I dont fear Al Queda. But theres a couple of folks in the next village who might come for me. You will be there for me?

    Like I say……..you see no virtue in neutrality. But you seem to see a happy co-incidence where you can support what just happens to be the self interest of your own nationality.
    I see virtue in my own neutrality. I consider it a higher moral stance than killing people or sitting in front of a TV cheering on the bombers. I call it a position consistent with my ethos.
    Like I say I have no dog in these fights.
    When they come for Afghan Taliban or Libyan freedom fighters. Or Bahrain freedom fighters ……I wont be there.
    Nor will I be there if they come after the French, the Italians, the americans, the British.
    But I know that when they come for the Pacifists, you will be there for me. Or the Irish.
    But deep down…..I suspect you wont.

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  17. lamhdearg (profile) says:

    French planes are flying missions over Libya,before taking out libya air defence’s and hours after the rebels shot down their own plane. a farce has begun and the people the west are claiming they are going in to protect (civilians) will die in their hundreds if not thousands, Jordan and the U.A.E are offering their help, what is their pay off will the west turn a blind eye when they surpress freedom movements in those countrys. The west has in the past only made things worse with it’s interference and it will only make this worse.

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  18. fordprefect (profile) says:

    Lamhdearg
    have to agree with you on that 100%.

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  19. JAH (profile) says:

    The farce will turn into tragedy if the good Col and his men succeed in winning. As usual there is finger pointing but no alternative suggestions.

    I still remember Srebrenica. 8000 died there because the West did nothing. So if the West doesn’t intervene here, who will? Nobody. This isn’t Iraq, the Libyans like most Arab people want change and its amazing how many people write to condemn them by tacitly supporting the existing regimes.

    History is moving in a clear direction away from despotic regimes. They deserve no support especially on the basis that intervening will make things worse!

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  20. fordprefect (profile) says:

    JAH,
    Okay, name me one “poor” person (i.e. working class) member of the “House of Commons” and for that matter any American polititian (elected or not) that is “poor” or working class. These same people couldn’t give a shit about the ordinary working class people of Libya (or anywhere else) if any of these people are interested in “regime change” it will not be for the benefit of ordinary people in Libya or anywhere else, it will be for the benefit of themselves and how much more money they can line their pockets with!

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  21. lamhdearg (profile) says:

    Jah
    my point is intervention will make it worse for the civilians, just as it did in Iraq, well over 100.000 dead since intervention.

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  22. oracle (profile) says:

    Dear Gerry Adams,

    Can we have that gear back ASAP

    love Col Gaddafi

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  23. fordprefect (profile) says:

    Dear Unionist Paramilitary/s
    Can we have that gear back ASAP
    Love, Oh No, it’s too late
    The former “government” of “South Africa!”

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  24. oracle (profile) says:

    JAH,

    What makes you an expert on the thoughts and beliefs of the Libyan people, you state as fact that they like most Arabs want change.
    They probably do, but Libya still has an elected Government which enjoys the support of the majority of Libyans yet you and many thoughtless people just like you are all to willing to see a War on Libyan soil in support of the minority tribal elders.

    The no fly zone was imposed yesterday yet Rebel jets are free to fly the sky unhindered by Anglo-French forces bombing areas supportive of the Government of Libya.
    When ground forces loyal to the Government defended themselves by shooting it down the British Prime Minister said it showed Gaddafi had broken the ceasefire and that ground troops will be targeted.

    Such sickening double standards in dealing with middle-eastern countries only destroy what little credibility the west has in the area.
    Saudi forces invaded Bahrain to quell civil protests there, there was no talk of no-fly zones sanctions or retaliatory strikes on Saudi was there!

    Please, please, please never take sides in any military conflict unless you know everything about it not just what you read in a tainted media.

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  25. lamhdearg (profile) says:

    see al-manar, for how the wests double standards are going down with shia. its one sided but so is the western press.

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  26. andnowwhat (profile) black spot says:

    On the upside, the yanks won’t be flying jets.

    That should cut down the friendly fire incidents somewhat.
    Just how overly keen is Sarkozy?

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  27. lamhdearg (profile) says:

    andnowwhat
    Friendly fire, reports have it that the rebels may have shot down their own fighter jet today, the yanks will join in soon, there is oil at stake, sarkozy wants a victory he can call his, just before election time, i feel/fear he underestimates the libyans.

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  28. oracle (profile) says:

    what was the Rebel jet doing in the air??? in a no fly zone

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  29. lamhdearg (profile) says:

    its a no fly zone for them’uns.

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  30. andnowwhat (profile) black spot says:

    Clearly, I was wrong and Cynic, Robert Fisk et al were right.

    Having said that, I wish Egypt took the chance. If they want to be free, it comes with responsibility

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  31. oracle (profile) says:

    The Rape of Libya Begins

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  32. abucs (profile) says:

    In my opinion you can’t go in and start killing people in a country that has nothing to do with you, and where your only connection (for most people) is a vague idea about what is going from what you get from TV.

    There are many Jihadists who believe the tide of history is on their side and the West is a despotic, evil oppressor (their TV tells them) and so they should come to your country and ‘solve the problem’.

    I’d say war only as a last resort, when you know intimately what’s going on and/ or if you are directly attacked. Otherwise you cause more problems thatn you solve.

    If not now then perhaps decades down the track.

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  33. Nunoftheabove (profile) says:

    Oracle

    Are you denying that Libya has been being raped by The Colonel and his riffraff for decades ?

    Lamhdearg

    Non-intervention worked how well in Bosnia ? Intervention didn’t work in Kosovo….is that what you’re saying ?

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  34. lamhdearg (profile) says:

    nunoftheabove
    Non-intervention worked how well in Bosnia ?, as i recall the un had already intervened in Bosnia when the like of sebrenica happened, some serbs claimed that “foreign” force’s on the ground caused the bosnia serbs to pursue a scorched earth policy.
    Kosovo. intervention didnt work and still to this day is not working for the serbian people who lived there in that part of their nation.
    Botton line dropping 1000lb bomes on land where people are cause’s death and destruction.

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  35. oracle (profile) says:

    Nun

    When the U.N imposes a policy of a no-fly zone it exactly that a no fly zone in or over that air space except for military aircraft operating under the command and leadership of the security council of the U.N.

    How did a military jet bomber belonging to the Benghazi rebels fly over and in Libyan airspace for 2 hours unhindered by the UN air forces and sea-born air defense systems?
    When it was eventually shot down it was shot down with a surface to air missile fired by the rebels themselves.

    What are the U.N air forces doing taking sides in an internal conflict? They have flown countless sorties against Libyan Government positions but none against the rebel positions.
    The U.N forces are blatantly aiding one side in this conflict which was not part of the U.N resolution therefore an illegal act and as such a crime.

    Do you not find it ironic that the media swamped Western Libya that rattled off figures such as at least a 1000 civilians killed by Gaddafi troops never ever showed us one yet they were everywhere with their camera crews in western Libya.
    They had total and unfettered access in Benghazi and surrounding areas indeed taken by the hand by the Benghazi rebels on tours of any conflict damaged building within a hundred miles…. But didn’t find any bodies! Did you not stop and ask why? Did you ever find that strange?

    But don’t worry those brave boys 30,000 feet up and a thousand miles away on military ships will soon rectify that!

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  36. JAH (profile) says:

    Amazing how they come out of the woodwork to support a homicidal nut like the mad Col.

    Events make most of the pro-Ghadaffi statements look as bizarrely unreal as Ghadaffi’s claim that he was observing the ceasefire. But I will pick up on this utter gem from Oracle

    “oracle (profile) 19 March 2011 at 6:54 pm
    JAH,

    What makes you an expert on the thoughts and beliefs of the Libyan people, you state as fact that they like most Arabs want change.
    They probably do, but Libya still has an elected Government which enjoys the support of the majority of Libyans yet you and many thoughtless people just like you are all to willing to see a War on Libyan soil in support of the minority tribal elders.”

    I work with a leading member of the Libyan opposition who has been a political exile since the student massacres of the 1970s so I can speak more on Libya with a bit more certainty that repeating Ghadaffi PR puffs as Oracle has done.

    Libya does not have an elected Govt unless your model is Nazi Germany. Since a substantial number of Libyans have rebelled Ghadaffi clearly doesn’t have majority support. Forcing people to cheer him in streets by fear does not equal popularity.

    To say the only people opposed to Ghadaffi are tribal elders is to totally at variance with reality that one wonders what are you watching or reading?

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  37. oracle (profile) says:

    JAH

    you said you

    “work with a leading member of the Libyan opposition who has been a political exile since the student massacres of the 1970s”

    A few questions wouls you like to include a link to that or just quote from a very selective memory?

    If your friend was a student in 1972 (which was the only year i could find for a killed student but i’ll bow to your link if you can ever supply one) he could not possibly have been a member of the Libyan opposition, if he fled to the UK then how could this friend of yours be a member of the Libyan opposition now?

    If he wasn’t a student then but an adult over student age he’d be over 70 years of age! do you work in a nursing home JAH?

    Do you not mean he’s an economic immigrant that came from Libya 40 years ago and hasn’t been back since (and is never going back I’d suspect no matter who’s in Government) but his tribal connections keep him interested in the old country?

    Why don’t you give your work mate a quick phone call and ask him what university he went to.

    I think I’ll reserve my judgement for things that I can see with my own eyes not second-hand idle gossip from someone who use to live there 40 years ago and who may or may not be motivated by a grievance or jealousy

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  38. JAH (profile) says:

    Oracle

    Ghadaffi strung up student opposition from lamposts during the 70s. I’m sure your google skills are not that weak. A lot of Libyans fled during that period to set up opposition groups including the UK in exile. I think there are a lot of precedents for that and I won’t lower the debate to race to the bottom with your offensive remarks about economic migrants.

    Suffice to say he has worked a professional contributing to this society as well.

    ” I think I’ll reserve my judgement for things that I can see with my own eyes not second-hand idle gossip from someone who use to live there 40 years ago and who may or may not be motivated by a grievance or jealousy”

    On that case follow your own advice and don’t comment further!

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  39. Greenflag (profile) says:

    Monsieur Sarkoczy is facing re-election and perhaps his belligerence is ‘timely’ . This intervention looks like a mess already but on balance unavoidable .

    In one party states like Libya and Zimbabwe where opposition politics are either not permitted or actively driven underground by the State then ‘overturning ‘ the regime or implementing necessary reform is in most cases only possible through outside intervention. The people of NI should be aware of how that works . Had the UK NOT intervened in NI in 1969 how many ‘dead’ would have piled up in NI streets and fields before the UN would have been forced to intervene ?

    I hope they target Ghaddafi and his closest supporters .Until they are either ‘dead’ or in exile peace and a possible political reform will be on hold and thus the Libyan people’s economic development which is in everybody’s interest in the region .

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  40. oracle (profile) says:

    JAH

    you stated “the student massacres of the 1970s ”

    Now you have them being strung up from lamp-posts

    could you tell me which was in public executions or a wholescale massare? and you’re the poster making the claims so you source it don’t try and leave it with the reader,

    otherwise it just looks like you’ve inserted a hand in your anus and rumble round for a few dates and tittle tattle gossip that suited your stance before retrieving your hand.

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  41. oracle (profile) says:

    Greenflag,

    just a quick note Zimbabwe is not a one party state

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  42. abucs (profile) says:

    It looks like Europe and the US are backing regime change but can’t say so officially. If some rebel group gets control of a portion of a country and the local government there moves against them, can those rebels also depend on European / US help, assuming the western media OK it first of course?

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  43. JAH (profile) says:

    I wrote referring to the effect of a no fly zone

    plus it means no other Arab Govt can resort to the same methods in future [shooting protestors] (and note how they’ve become gung ho in the past week).

    Chris Donnelly (profile) 18 March 2011 at 9:05 am replied
    JAH
    Naivety of breathtaking proportions there. Those states will have no doubt noted the absence of similar threats of UN sponsored military action against them and are quite likely acting with tacit approval as they imitate Gadaffi’s shameful suppression of his own people.

    I just read that the Yemeni President is accepting reality that he no longer has any support after his Friday massacre. Naive? I don’t think so.

    Syria or Bahrain next?

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  44. lamhdearg (profile) says:

    NEW LAW IN ZIONIST STATE

    As the bbc puts it.

    The Israeli parliament has passed a law that allows the state to deny funding to institutions that question the country’s existence as a Jewish state.

    Civil rights groups say the law restricts the freedom of expression of Israel’s Arab minority, which makes up about a fifth of Israel’s population.

    The controversial law brought in by the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party was passed by a vote of 37 to 25.

    The new law has been called the Nakba bill, the Arabic word for catastrophe.

    Palestinians use the term to refer to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, when hundreds of thousands of them fled or were forced from their homes.

    Under the new law, groups involved in activities that deny Israel’s existence as a Jewish state can be prevented from receiving public funding.

    Now thats sectarianism.

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  45. lamhdearg (profile) says:

    The “now thats sectarianism” is from me not the BBC.

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  46. HeinzGuderian (profile) says:

    The price of Tayto Cheese and Onion is scandalous…………………..what that has to do with Libya,escapes me………;-)

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
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