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Political negotiations needed to end Libya deadlock

By Huang Peizhao (People's Daily)

13:18, August 05, 2011

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, began on Aug. 1 in Libya and many other Arab Muslim countries. It is a holy and auspicious month in the eyes of Muslims, and a basic rule during this month is no conflict, bloodshed or wars. However, the start of this year's Ramadan was marked by smoke and gunfire in Libya.

The Libyan opposition and government forces were still engaged in fierce battles in many parts of the country during the first two days of Ramadan. The opposition group suffered heavy losses, while the government forces recaptured certain recently lost positions.

At the same time, NATO continued airstrikes in Libya. Certain media outlets in the Middle East reported that the war in Libya has not ceased even during the holy month of Ramadan. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, said in a televised address on Aug. 1 that the regime would "fight it out." He stressed that the government would push on with its war against rebels even in Ramadan no matter whether NATO stops its bombing raids. The fighting would continue until final victory is achieved.

Saif's remarks seem to be a footnote and interpretation of the forecasts and analyses of media agencies in the Middle East. However, facts have fully proven that force and military operations cannot resolve the Libya issue, and political negotiations are the only solution to Libya's deadlock.

First, the Libyan opposition forces are so weak that they are very unlikely to overthrow the Gaddafi regime by conquering Libya's capital Tripoli. Particularly, the opposition forces have been in chaos after their top military commander Abdel Fatah Younis was murdered several days ago and have continuously suffered setbacks over the subsequent days.

In fact, although the opposition forces are evidently attempting to lay siege to Tripoli from the east, south and west and have achieved the upper hand on a few battlefields, they cannot organize their attack forces in various directions to launch comprehensive attacks. Thus, they have yet to achieve a decisive military triumph. According to the reports by the Arab media agencies, the opposition forces' four-month combat operations are fruitless and their plan to lay siege to Tripoli is increasingly hopeless and will likely become an impossible dream.

Second, as NATO's military actions have already "entered a dead end," continuing to strike Libya will only have adverse effects. Military actions of France and other NATO countries in Libya are difficult to continue because there are no bomb targets, and in addition to running out of massive funds, NATO does not achieve any goal, according to an Egyptian newspaper.

The Norwegian army's formal withdrawal from Libya at the arrival of the Muslim Ramadan will initiate a domino effect among NATO countries in the future, which is a tremendous blow to NATO and Libyan opposition forces, but may be good news for Gaddafi. Because military actions did not work, NATO repeatedly proposed to solve the Libya problem through political means, which is equal to a return to the drawing board of dialogue negotiations. Arab media said that this is the great irony of NATO.

Third, Gaddafi could not obtain a military victory to force the opposition to kneel before his power. Although Gaddafi refused to admit being inferior during the NATO air strikes and frequently made televised statements to express his determination and desire to resist with all efforts, Gaddafi is actually besieged on all sides and has become more isolated. Meanwhile, as Libya government forces have been heavily hit by NATO, Gaddafi's attempt of turning the tables through military means has gone with the wind.

Various parties can only solve the problem through political negotiations because the military means did not work. In fact, the African Union put forward a road map for resolving the Libya deadlock a long time ago. However, NATO ignored this and blindly believed force would make Gaddafi raise his arms in surrender. However, it is now time to sincerely consider the African Union's proposal.

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