After disastrous interventions and the failure of constructive progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, foreign intervention in the Arab world must come under close analysis for credibility and intentions.
The Middle East has been ruled by dictators for decades. But from one end to the other, the Arab world is witnessing a rare moment in history as citizens flood the streets to expressing their discontent and pushing toward the end of dictatorship and oppression.
Americans must, however, not be fooled by the simplistic removal of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine El Abidine, for the situation in Libya is quite different.
On Feb. 17, protesters in Libya called for a day of revolt. Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan ruler of more than 40 years, has responded to such protests with a full-scale assault on his people. Casualties in Libya have been reported to be between 1,000 and 10,000. There is no sign of Gadhafi stepping down, as occurred in Egypt or Tunisia.
The international community has witnessed widespread condemnation of the atrocities in the North African country, already subjecting Gadhafi to foreign involvement. The UN Security Council voted in favor of resolution 1973, which gave groups like the NATO full permission to move toward military action against Gadhafi’s forces and implement a no-fly zone. According to the resolution, the main priority of all intervening nations should be to “take all feasible steps” to protect Libyan civilians.
A quick survey of Western intervention only points to the fact that it must come only under careful and thorough scrutiny.
In 1993, the U.S. intervened in Somalia – codenamed Operation Restore Hope – to restore order for trade routes and humanitarian efforts in the country. But the situation still dissolved into a civil war that is still raging today.
America must not forget, either, the disastrous consequences of the intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In some of these interventions, it may be clear that America’s involvement has only served its own agendas, whether for oil, influence or control. The public must not fall for the same “going in to free the people” rhetoric used in Iraq, which only led to a backfire from the very people the U.S. was attempting to assist.
The no-fly zone in Lybia creates a risk of collateral damages resulting in many civilian deaths. As a result, this attack may only serve to boost Gadhafi’s rhetoric on fighting the “imperialist powers.” The U.S. must use strategic and careful planning in supporting the rebels in the region.
Considering the various conflicts and uprisings in the Middle East, any decision put forward must be carefully analyzed. People must not forget that the regions in question have been supported by Western powers, especially the U.S., in the past.
For the West to be viewed as an honest peace promoter, it must prove that interventions are strictly based on humanitarian ends, rather than economic benefits.
Nader Hasan is a junior majoring in international affairs and religious studies.