Why Libya? -- A question of Africa

11:36, April 03, 2011      

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Why Libya, not Cote d'Ivoire or Somalia? It's a question posed in Africa, -- from Cape Town to Addis Ababa, from Nairobi to Abuja. Though reasonable, the question has not yet been highly valued or clearly responded.

It's known to all that the mission of the West-led air strike is to prevent "a humanitarian crisis."

The U.N.-sanctioned military operation is based on an assumption: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will massacre all the residents after storming the rebel's eastern stronghold of Benghazi.

Thus, the crisis is latent and the operation is preventive.

Also in Africa, on the western side, a humanitarian crisis looms in Cote d'Ivore. That's where hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes and nearly 500 have been killed by forces loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo, who clings to power despite losing to Alassane Ouattara in the Nov. 28 presidential run-off election.

"Why Libya but not Cote d'Ivoire?" a pro-Ouattara political group leader asked.

At the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit held at the end of March, Nigerian Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia condemned the West for launching air strikes in Libya but failing to protect civilians in Cote d'Ivoire.

The double standards of the international community were impossible to ignore, Ajumogobia said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also accused Western countries of using double standards by pushing for a no-fly zone and asked: Why Libya, but not Behrain or Somalia?

While imposing a no-fly zone in a rival country like Libya, the West turns a blind eye to a similar case in Bahrain, one of the pro-West countries, he said in a statement.

"We have been appealing to the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone over somalia so as to impede the free movement of terrorists ..., without success," Museveni said.

"Why? Are there no human beings in Somalia similar to the ones in Benghazi? Or is it because Somalia does not have oil which is not fully controlled by the western oil companies?" he said.

Though many questions still haunt Africa, the continent has already started to take action.

The African Union, in fact, set up a special committee on Libya before the Western coalition forces started their air strikes on the North African country.

To push ahead on a peaceful solution to the Libya crisis, the committee proposed a five-point roadmap. It requested that the parties concerned in Libya to protect civilians and stop hostile activities. It also asked that they provide humanitarian assistance to the affected Libyans and foreign migrant workers, particularly those from Africa.

But it is a pity that neither of Africa's questions has been clearly answered by the Western countries, nor their action adequately valued.

In a Paris meeting, AU Commission chairman Jean Ping blasted the Western forces for not conducting sufficient consultations with the AU before launching the attacks.

In a gesture to show reservations about Western military action against Libya, AU representatives did not attend the international conference on Libya in London on Tuesday.

The no-show reflects a growing unease and frustration among African countries as they see in the Libya issue a reassertion of influence by the Western nations in Africa's affair, a South African researcher said.

Furthermore, they are frustrated at being sidelined while the Africa voice has not been given sufficient weight internationally.

"As a continental body, they should have been given more of voice in an issue that is in their jurisdiction," the researcher said.

After the London meeting, Ping told reporters that the AU aims to solve the Libya crisis through peaceful means and does not want to see "another Somalia," -- an aspiration of the entire African continent.

In the world arena, the Africa countries have often been regarded as a "silent majority."

In fact, Africa may not be really silent. Instead, maybe its voice has not been valued or considered.

As the war in Libya faces a deadlock and turbulence in the Middle East appears to be sprawling to Africa, questions concerning Africa's situation require rational settlement, rather than any unwise approach.

Source: Xinhua

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