Sergey BREZKUN (KREMLYOV) – Independent analyst and researcher
It looks like the global community has not fully realized the seriousness of what is going on in Libya. Mass media are still reporting on some local “rebels” in Libya and only somewhere on the background of public conscience “British special troops” and “CIA experts” emerge from time to time…
But this is not how the situation there should be evaluated. The presence of rebels is a sign of a civil war but what is going on in Libya from the very start was not a civil war but something completely different.
By definition, civil war is a domestic military conflict between two or more groups of the population. Other countries can one way or the other influence the course and the outcome of the civil war (even provide military aid) but without bringing troops in the country. If foreign troops are brought into the country gripped by the civil war this is not the provision of military aid but intervention.
The participation of the Soviet troops in the Afghan war was not intervention because they fought on the side of the government against mujahidin groups. The presence of the US troops in Vietnam is also difficult to call intervention (though what they did in South Vietnam can be seen as intervention), because they fought on the side of a puppet but formally legitimate government.
The causes for a civil war can be purely domestic and objective or artificial and external but in any case a civil war (or its imitation) never breaks out without a reason. If only the citizens of a given country take part in the standoff, the war (if this is a real civil war) ends with the victory of the party which fights for the interests of the majority of population. The opposite is possible only in case of massive intervention in the country by other countries’ forces, which support the interests of the minority.
In other words, the outcome of the civil war contradicts the interests of the majority of population only when these interests were defied by successful intervention.
In 2011, on the territory of Libya some armed groups began military actions against the forces of the legitimate government of Muammar Gaddafi (recognized by the UN). Those groups comprised (at least it was reported so) Libyan citizens. Illegal armed units of different number on the territory of the state should be defined either like “gangs” or like “groups of rebels” and the activities of such units can be defined as “criminal offence” or as “anti governmental criminally liable actions”.
No doubt that if “rebels” in Libya acted relying only on their own forces they would be soon defeated by the governmental troops (in case of some secret support from outside) and the situation in Libya would stabilize.
But from the very start the rebels received the support of the US and other Western countries. And almost from the very beginning it was an intervention first intervention of Libyan air space.
The question is – what grounds did they have to interfere?
The UN Charter bans any intervention and the resolution of UN Security Council on Libya would not allow it either. The principle of non-interference into internal affairs of other states is set not only by the UN Charter but also by the 'Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of their Independence and Sovereignty', adopted at ХХ session of the UN General Assembly on 21.12.1965. This declaration bans interference into others’ domestic affairs by any reason. It is also necessary to remember the definition of aggression, which was first given in 1933 in London Convention and which was later précised by the UN General Assembly resolution 14.12.1974, as well as about 'Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States of 1981.
But it was a pure intervention what the forces of Western nations undertook in Libya, and it is West’s intervention, which explains the success of rebels starting from the first combats with the participation of the US and NATO aviation and ending with the assault of Tripoli taken not by rebels but by the interventionists.
The International law definitely considers armed intervention as the gravest crime against international peace and one of the most dangerous forms of the use of force. This is exactly what has been going on in Libya. In Iraq the US made war and in Libya it is taking part in intervention. One can speak not about providing support to rebels but about direct unprovoked intervention – this is the only right definition of the actions of US and NATO in Libya in terms of the International law.
Reportedly, NATO’s aviation since the beginning of operation in Libya liquidated more than 5,000 military goals, including more than 800 tanks and cannons of the Libyan army. Could the rebels have had a slightest chance for success in fighting the regular army without West’s intervention?
US and NATO’s intervention in Libya – whether people understand it or not, accept it or not – starts a new political epoch, in which the international law does not work not only de-facto but even de-jure. Actually this “new epoch” is the return to old days of “gun-boat diplomacy”…
Isn’t it the time to officially estimate the activities of the West in Libya as intervention and condemn them? Russia, for example, could precondition that it has the right to consider the norms of the international law as recommendatory not like regulatory until the US and NATO stop their criminal activities in Libya.
West’s intervention in Libya has deeply and outrageously defied standard principles and norms of the international law. If we do not speak about it out loud – we don’t respond to it in our everyday politics it means that we create conditions for US and NATO’s intervention in future and the Libyan scenario can repeat in any country – from Syria which is “next on the list” to Russia.