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“Ceasefire” Weekend – Calm Before Storm?

  • March 19th, 2011
  • Posted by 7thmin

gaddafi-2011.jpgCOMMENTARY: Western allies and Arab states working with them have no great appetite for a new “Desert Storm” in military terms, but are sceptical of a Libyan ceasefire.

Journalists in Triploi passed on the announcement that the government of Muammar al-Gaddafi (picture) had bowed to the demands of the United Nations and would observe a ceaesefire in its war against the political opposition (18.3.11).

Campaigning in the Libyan capital saw hundreds of pro-Gaddafi youth cheering in the streets, decked out in green as a possible indicator of Islamic sentiments, at one time flooding into the building where a 2 am media conference was under way.

Other supporters, military units in armoured vehicles, were accused by opposition forces of continuing to move against their positions — despite the declared ceasefire.

The terms of the UN Security Council resolution passed on Friday would give Colonel Gaddafi some room to manoeuvre in normal times; for example, demanding that he cease attacks on “civilians”, leaving it open whether that should mean unarmed civilians, as distinct from those digging in to defend their ground.

See EUAustralia Online, “UN decides on Libya”, 18.3.11.

Such distinctions though might go by the board if reconnaissance by the military forces gathering just outside Libyan territory shows there is continuing action by the Gaddafi troops.

In such a case, the “ceasefire” might be interpreted as an attempted  trick, or a sign that the government in Tripoli cannot control the army, but the military action foreshadowed by the Security Council would by then look inevitable.

A diplomatic summit today (19.3.11) in Paris, taking in representatives from NATO governments, the European Union and Arab League, is expected to make decisions on action to be taken.

Restless activity has been reported (19.3.11) from air bases in Britain and France, French television airing movements of carrier-bourne aircraft and flights in and out of bases in Southern Corsica and elsewhere.

A side issue has been the reserved attitude of the German government, which abstained from the resolution at the Security Council, and on the weekend declaimed for a ceasefire as the best goal.

rommel.jpegNo such shilly-shallying would have been expected from the late Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (picture); dusting off some of his campaign maps from Benghazi or Tobruk would provide useful historical backing for the stand-off this weekend some 70 years after his time.

In Egypt this weekend, voters are taking part in a referendum to set out terms for democratic elections.

The event follows the “democracy revolution” that overthrew the government of Hosni Mubarak.