Posts tagged ‘Tunisia’

05/23/2011

Obama’s Historic Mideast Speech

President Obama delivered a historic speech on May 19, 2011, in which he first addressed the two wars President Bush started, by saying 100,000 troops have already returned from Iraq, and U.S. soldiers and will soon be coming home from Afghanistan.

Obama next referred to the peaceful changes in Tunisia and Egypt, during the Arab Spring, and the ongoing revolts in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain. He reaffirmed U.S. support for self-determination, the freedoms of speech and religion, peaceful assembly, equality for men and women, and voting rights. He said journalists must be respected, and an open Internet access must be allowed, since legitimate democracy needs an informed citizenry.

Obama condemned Libya’s Col. Qaddafi for launching a war against his own people; advised Syria’s Assad to stop shooting at demonstrators; and asked President Saleh of Yemen to follow through on his commitment to transfer power.

While Obama reasserted a U.S. commitment to Bahraini security, he boldly admonished the royal family for using brute force, making mass arrests of Shiites, and for destroying their Mosques. He told them to release political prisoners and engage in dialogue.

Finally, Obama showed great courage, as he suggested that Israel stop building illegal settlements, and end their longstanding occupation of Palestine, by withdrawing to the pre-1967 borders.

In his historic speech, Obama lamented: “The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate…The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome… The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace…Endless delay won’t make the problem go away.”

Obama told Israel and the world, the Palestinians have suffered “the humiliation of occupation,” and have not lived “in a nation of their own…The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.” Obama noted “Israeli settlement activity continues,” as he bravely suggested the coordination of a “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces…”

Obama simultaneously warned the Palestinians they will never realize independence by denying the right of Israel to exist, as he said: “Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable.”

Obama correctly concluded a lasting peace will involve two states, Israel, as a Jewish state, and Palestine, as the homeland for the Palestinians. This is almost exactly what the UN has been saying for 44 years: “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

During the past 44 years of violence, Israel has illegally occupied Palestine, and it’s about time a strong American President directly suggested giving peace a chance by retreating to the 1967 borders. It is not only the right solution, it’s the only one that has a chance.

03/23/2011

Egypt: Libyan Rebels Need Your Tanks

A recent UN Resolution authorized intervention in Libya to protect the civilian population from Qaddafi. Since Qaddafi is an ongoing threat to those in the civilian population who oppose him, the only way to protect the people is to remove Qaddafi.

While the western states appear to willing to use air power to protect Libyan civilians, this alone will not work. The conflict will not end, until Qaddafi is removed, and that will not occur, until a well-equipped land force closes in on Tripoli.

We must start with the reality that Qaddafi will not step down peacefully. He has nowhere to go. He has the ability to remain, because he has oil money. He can purchase military materiel and keep his troops well paid. They will fight the rebels as long and as hard as they can, as their futures are tied to Qaddafi’s.

Force must be used. While targets have already been destroyed from the air, Qaddafi is one step ahead of the attacks. He has been through this before. U.S. planes bombed his residence in 1986 in a failed attempt to assassinate him. For over 25 years, Qaddafi has been looking over his shoulder. He has had time to think about the next bombing campaign. He will not be taken out by air.

The removal of Qaddafi must come on the ground. But who will use troops? The rebels themselves obviously must take the lead, but they are ill-equipped. Who will provide military hardware?

Qatar offered troops to fight Qaddafi, but this was not out of a desire to support democracy. It was instead because they have a monarchy and Qaddafi came to power in 1969 by overthrowing a king. Qatar’s motives are suspect. Their offer should be rejected.

France has a history of fighting Qaddafi. In Libya’s war against the former French colony of Chad (1980s), they sent in troops and planes. Qaddafi would however accuse France of neo-colonialism and the French should not put their boots on the ground.

Italy, Germany and Britain also have military experience in Libya, dating back to World War II. While U.S. troops advanced eastward from Morocco through Algeria into Tunisia, the English 8th Army won the battle at El Alamein in Egypt in 1942 and drove Irwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, and his German and Italian forces, westward through Libya also into Tunisia.

Italy and Germany will not get involved now. Italy has a colonial history in Libya, and if they used troops, Libyans would unite against them. Germany will also stay out. They abstained from the UN Res. and oppose even air strikes, let alone ground forces. With regards to Britain, they have a colonial history in Egypt and would be unable to mount an offensive from Egyptian soil.

This leads us to Egypt. The Egyptian people should identify with the Libyan rebels, as they just got rid of Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for 30 years. Egypt does not have a monarch. They forced their king to abdicate in 1952. Egypt shares the same Sunni Muslim religion with Libya. They could not be accused of conducting a Crusade. They have 79 million people, as compared to only 6.3 million Libyans, and could assemble a volunteer army large enough to help the rebels.

Egypt has military hardware, including tanks, as they are the largest recipient of U.S. aid (after Israel). The Egyptians should drive their tanks to the Libyan border and allow the Libyan rebels to reflag them, using the traditional Libyan symbol. They should then slowly drive the tanks from east to west, along 1,000 miles of Mediterranean coast, past Benghazi, where they would be greeted with support, and on to the shores of Tripoli, for a showdown with Qaddafi. With the barrel of an Egyptian tank pointed at his front door, my guess is Qaddafi would finally step down.