What Should the US do to aid the Libya Rebels?

Mar 08 2011

What Should the US do to aid the Libya Rebels?

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Libyan rebel forces are amassing a surprising amount of victories in repelling government loyal troops. Just recently, this Sunday, rebels held onto the key city of Misrata, showing undying support for the cause. Unfortunately, this will not hold. Government troops carry better weapons and special weaponry such as fighter aircraft and artillery that make it very unlikely for the rebel troops to succeed with no assistance. The US has talked about instituting a no fly zone over Libya such as the one over Iraq in the 1990’s. This poses the challenge of a long-term commitment for the US, a commitment that cannot be afforded by the American people. What strategy should the US go with? A military invasion is absolutely out of the question, and the no fly zone is looking like a better option everyday.

Libyan ambassador to the US Ali Aujali believes that action is necessary now. “Time means losing lives, time means that Qaddafi will regain control,” he said. “He has weapons, he has rockets with about 450 kilometers’ distance, and we have to protect the people. These mercenaries now are everywhere.”[1] Options for some kind of intervention are absolutely necessary. The US has not done that much apart from the monetary assets seized internationally from the Qaddafi regime. This, however, is seen to make him and his bloodthirsty regime even more likely to not give up because they will have nothing to lose. Another option that should be considered is one similar to that of Operation Jawbreaker. Jawbreaker was the codename for the counterinsurgency techniques that US Special Forces employed to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan. They supplied the Northern Alliance with technology, information, and techniques to wage battle. America definitely cannot afford, monetarily and publicly, to put American infantry and airborne boots on the ground in Libya. Alternatives are necessary to at least train and inform due to the lack of resistance capabilities. “Libya’s opposition is essentially leaderless, disorganized, and untrained for military operations.”[2]

It is also important to look at what happens if Qaddafi is eventually ousted. “Even if Gadhafi is somehow ousted, the violence could continue as tribes duke it out for supremacy in a nation that has few significant public institutions that could fill a potentially chaotic void.”[3] The US and generally the UN will have to step in at some point, and it would greatly help Libya’ people if it were sooner, rather than later.

[1] http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/04/libyan_ambassador_the_us_must_do_more_to_stop_qaddafi_s_massacre

[2] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/03/04/this_week_at_war_the_jawbreaker_option

[3] http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/03/06/libya.conflict/index.html?iref=obnetwork

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