User:Aude/International reactions to the 2011 Libyan civil war

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Official responses[edit]

March in support of the Libyan opposition in Japan before the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

A number of states and supranational bodies condemned Gaddafi's use of military and mercenaries against Libyan civilians. However, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, North Korean leader Kim-Jong-il, Cuban political leader Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez all expressed support for Gaddafi.[1][2][3] Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi initially said he did not want to disturb Gaddafi, but two days later he called the attacks on protesters unacceptable.[4][5] Although Russia had long expressed reservations and dissent regarding the intervention, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced during the 37th G8 summit on 27 May that he believed that Gaddafi "should leave", and offered to mediate a deal to oust the Libyan leader.[6]

The Arab League suspended Libya from taking part in council meetings at an emergency meeting on 22 February and issued a statement condemning the "crimes against the current peaceful popular protests and demonstrations in several Libyan cities".[7][8]

Libya was suspended from the United Nations Human Rights Council on 1 March, by a unanimous vote of the United Nations General Assembly, citing the Gaddafi government's use of violence against protesters.[9][10] On 26 February, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to impose strict sanctions against Gaddafi's government and refer Gaddafi and other members of his government to the International Criminal Court for investigation into allegations of brutality against civilians.[11] Interpol issued a security alert concerning the "possible movement of dangerous individuals and assets" based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970, listing Gaddafi himself and fifteen members of his clan or his regime.[12] A number of governments, including Britain, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, Germany and Australia, took action to freeze assets of Gaddafi and his associates.[13]

The Gulf Cooperation Council issued a joint statement on 8 March, calling on the United Nations Security Council to impose an air embargo on Libya to protect civilians.[14] The Arab League did the same on 12 March, with only Algeria and Syria voting against the measure.[15]

On 16 May, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor asked judges to issue arrest warrants for Colonel Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussa. According to the prosecutor, the three had ordered, planned, and participated in illegal attacks against civilians. He stated that under their command, pro-Gaddafi forces had attacked civilians in their homes, shot at demonstrators protesting his 40 years of rule with live ammunition, shelled funeral processions, and deployed snipers to kill people leaving mosques. While compiling a seventy-four-page dossier of evidence that will be presented to judges,[16][17] as many as fifty top Gaddafi insider officials had provided information, seeking to implicate each other in war crimes.[18]


On 22 February, two Luftwaffe C-160s are some of the first foreign military airplanes allowed to land at Tripoli International Airport. Commercial planes from Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways can be seen in the background.

During the uprising, many states evacuated their citizens.[19] China set up its largest evacuation operation ever with over 30,000 Chinese nationals evacuated, as well as 2,100 citizens from twelve other states.[20][21][22] On 25 February, 500 passengers, mostly Americans, sailed into Malta after a rough eight-hour journey from Tripoli following a two-day wait for the seas to calm.[23] South Korea evacuated its almost 1,398 nationals in Libya using cars, airplanes and ships.[24][25][26]

The Indian government launched Operation Safe Homecoming and evacuated 15,000 of its nationals through the Indian Navy and Air India.[27] The Turkish government sent three ships to evacuate a reported 25,000 Turkish workers and return them to Istanbul.[28] Ireland sent two Irish Air Corps jets to Libya to evacuate Irish citizens, using Malta as a temporary base. However, an Air Corps Learjet that landed in Tripoli on 23 February was prevented by Libyan authorities from picking up any passengers.[29] The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs assisted over 115 Irish nationals in leaving Libya.[30] Russia sent aircraft and ferries to evacuate its nationals, as well citizens of other countries.[31]

Many international oil companies decided to withdraw their employees from Libya to ensure their safety, including Gazprom, Royal Dutch Shell, Sinopec, Suncor Energy, Pertamina and BP. Other companies that decided to evacuate their employees included Siemens and Russian Railways.[32][33]

Royal Navy frigate HMS Cumberland was deployed to assist in evacuations and to enforce a naval blockade.

The evacuations often involved assistance from various military forces. The United Kingdom deployed aircraft and the frigate HMS Cumberland to assist in the evacuations.[34][35][36] The Chinese frigate Xuzhou of the People's Liberation Army Navy was ordered to guard the Chinese evacuation efforts.[21][37] The South Korean Navy destroyer ROKS Choi Young arrived off the coast of Tripoli on 1 March to evacuate South Korean citizens.[38] The Royal Navy destroyer HMS York docked in the port of Benghazi on 2 March, evacuated 43 nationals, and delivered medical supplies and other humanitarian aid donated by the government of Sweden.[39][40] Canada deployed the frigate HMCS Charlottetown to aid in the evacuation of Canadian citizens and to provide humanitarian relief operations in conjunction with an US Navy carrier strike group, led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.[41]

Two Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft with British Special Forces onboard evacuated approximately 100 foreign nationals, mainly oil workers, to Malta from the desert south of Benghazi.[42][43] A subsequent joint evacuation operation between the UK and Germany evacuated 22 Germans and about 100 other Europeans, mostly British oil workers, from the airport at Nafurah to Crete.[44][45][46]

On 27 February, the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Tromp sent a helicopter manned by three Marines to evacuate a Dutch civilian and another European from Sirte. After the helicopter landed near Sirte, it was confronted and grounded by a Libyan Army unit, and the three members of the crew were arrested for entering Libyan airspace without clearance.[47][48] The civilians were released soon after and the crew was released twelve days later, but the helicopter was confiscated.[49] A cruise ship arrived to save the 7,913 Filipinos in Libya from the destruction.[citation needed]

Three months after the conflict started, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and its partners (UNHCR, Donor In-Kind) conducted life-saving evacuations for almost 144,000 migrants.[50] Tunisia was the largest exit route of migrants fleeing from Libya. Because of its proximity to Tripoli and other major Libyan cities, third-country nationals and Libyans flocked to the main border points of R'as Ajdir and Dehiba. From Tunisia, IOM and its partners evacuated by air about 103,000 migrants to their countries of origin.[51] Repatriation movements organized by IOM from Egypt reached 35,000 passengers.[52] In Niger, about 2,000 migrants received transportation assistance, by bus or by plane, to return to their country of origin.[53] From Algeria, IOM organized the repatriation of about 1,200 migrants that crossed the Libyan-Algerian border to flee the conflict.[54] Bangladeshi nationals represented the largest nationality of migrants repatriated by IOM, with more than 30,000 repatriated by plane. Chadians faced many difficulties while returning home by themselves as many trucks could not cross directly into Chad due to severe hardship along the main road from Libya to Faya. As such, trucks took detours through Niger, thereby lengthening the journey and creating more obstacles (and costs) for the returnees. In three months, about 68,000 Chadian nationals have returned to Chad. Among them, 26,500 have been repatriated by plane by IOM and its partners. The rest have returned in different entry points by trucks.[55]

Mediation proposals[edit]

Pro-Gaddafi graffiti made by Hugo Chávez supporters in a Venezuelan city. Chávez attempted to be a mediator, but his proposal was later dismissed.

There have been several peace mediation prospects during the crisis. Early in the conflict, Gaddafi's son reportedly requested that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair mediate the crisis but he bluntly refused.[56]

South Africa proposed an African Union led mediation effort to prevent civil war.[57] Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez also put himself forward as a mediator. Although Gaddafi accepted in principle a proposal by Chávez to negotiate a settlement between the opposition and the Libyan government, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi later said there was no need for any foreign mediation.[58] The proposal has also been under consideration by the Arab League, according to its Secretary-General Amr Moussa.[59]

The Libyan opposition stated any deal would have to involve Gaddafi stepping down. The US and French governments also dismissed any initiative that would allow Gaddafi to remain in power.[60] Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, the 2010 winner of the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, offered to mediate the crisis, and proposed that Gaddafi appoint a President acceptable to all Libyans as means of overcoming the crisis.[61]

Indirect talks allegedly took place between Gaddafi's government and the National Transitional Council. In early March, Gaddafi reportedly proposed that he step down and hand power over the General People's Congress, in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution, safe exit for him and his family, and a guarantee from the United Nations that he be allowed to keep his money. Gaddafi allegedly sent Libyan UN delegate and former Prime Minister Jadallah Azzuz at-Talhi to negotiate a deal.[62][63] On 8 March, the National Transitional Council announced that if Gaddafi called off the fighting and left Libya with his family within the next seventy-two hours, the council would not prosecute him.[64]

The African Union's special committee on Libya has been attempting to broker a ceasefire agreement.[65] On 29 May, South African President Jacob Zuma flew to Libya to arrange a cease-fire, and NATO temporarily lifted its no-fly zone to allow his presidential plane to land at the main military airbase next to Tripoli. Zuma met with Gaddafi in the Bab al-Azizia compound, and said that Gaddafi was ready to accept an AU initiative for a complete cease-fire that would stop all ground fighting and NATO airstrikes, and that Gaddafi insisted that "all Libyans be given a chance to talk among themselves". Gaddafi did not make any mention of stepping down, and the offer was rejected by the rebels. However, opposition leaders remained skeptical that mediation would end the conflict in a way that would satisfy their goals, which include seeing Gaddafi removed from power.[65] Fathi Baja, The National Transitional Council's Foreign Minister, said that "we refuse completely, we don't consider it a political initiative, it is only some stuff that Gaddafi wants to announce to stay in power", adding that the rebels would soon launch an offensive.[66] On 31 May, Zuma said that Gaddafi had told him he would not step down or leave Libya, and was "emphathetic" about this position.[67]

Russian Presidential Envoy to Africa Mikhail Margelov itineraried a visit to Tripoli to present a roadmap to resolve the conflict once NATO clears the transportation corridor, assuming a mediatory role requested at the G8 Summit in May.[68]

In July 2011, it was revealed that National Transitional Council chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil had previously offered Gaddafi the option of being allowed to remain in Libya on condition that he steps down and orders soldiers to withdraw to their barracks and positions. Under the deal, the rebels would decide where Gaddafi could live, and he would be under international supervision at all times. Jalil suggested that Gaddafi could spend his retirement under guard in a military barracks.[69][70][71]


On 26 February, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970, which imposed an arms embargo on Libya, and travel bans and asset freezes on members of the Gaddafi regime. Asset freezes and travel bans were further extended by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which also tightened the arms embargo by allowing the forcible seizure and inspection of Libyan ships and planes by international forces, and imposed asset freezes and travel bans on additional Libyan individuals and entities. The European Union and United States imposed additional asset freezes on individuals and entities not sanctioned by the UN, particularly entities in the Libyan oil and gas and financial sectors. Major US energy firms cut off trade with Libya in response to the sanctions. Although major European buyers of Libyan oil continued to trade, trade was significantly reduced due the reluctance of banks to finance trade with Libya.[72]

Following the imposition of sanctions, numerous governments seized tens of billions of dollars in Libyan assets, including the assets of Gaddafi and his sons. Before defecting to the rebels, the governor of the Libyan Central Bank, Farhat Bengdara, arranged for the bulk of external Libyan assets to be frozen and unavailable to Gaddafi's government.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973[edit]

 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
(no-fly zone and other measures)
Countries committed to enforcement:
 United Arab Emirates[79]
 United Kingdom[83]
 United States[84]

On 28 February, UK Prime Minister David Cameron proposed the idea of a no-fly zone to prevent Gaddafi from airlifting mercenaries and using military aircraft against civilians.[85] A number of states indicated they would support a no-fly zone if it was backed by the UN.[86]

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was initially sceptical of this option, warning the US Congress that a no-fly zone would have to begin with an attack on Libya's air defences.[87] Russia and China, both holding UN Security Council veto power, indicated they were opposed to the implementation of a no-fly zone.[88][89][90][91] Romania[92] and India[93] also indicated they were opposed to the implementation of a no-fly zone.

On 7 March, a UN diplomat confirmed to Agence France-Presse, on condition of anonymity, that France and the UK were drawing up a resolution for the UN Security Council to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya.[94][95]

The foreign ministers of the Arab League agreed at their 12 March meeting to ask the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The rebels concurrently stated that a no-fly zone alone would not be sufficient, because the majority of the bombardments were coming from tanks and rockets, not aircraft.[96] The US changed its position, as Gadaffi forces were quickly approaching Benghazi, and voiced support for the no-fly-zone concept.[97]

On 17 March, the UN Security Council approved UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011), authorizing a no-fly zone, amongst other measures, by a vote of ten in favour, zero against and five abstentions. Germany was the only NATO or European Union member to abstain; it would also not join the NATO-led air war in Libya.[98] The resolution bans all flights in Libyan airspace in order to protect civilians.[97][99] A collection of states began enforcing the no-fly zone on 19 March.[100]

On 29 March, Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, nominating Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann – the former foreign minister of Nicaragua's socialist Sandinista government and one-time president of the UN General Assembly – as Libya's new ambassador to the UN. The letter stated that Brockmann was nominated because their first choice, Ali Abdussalam Treki – also a former UN General Assembly president – was denied a visa to enter the US under UN Security Council Resolution 1973.[101]

The NATO Berlin summit of 14–15 April[edit]

NATO, Georgian, Russian, Ukrainian, UAE, Swedish and Qatari officials attended a summit in Berlin, but failed for a second day to find new ground-attack aircraft, despite planning to send more fighters to strengthen the no-fly zone.[102][103] NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen asked other member states to do more in Libya, but Italy signalled its reluctance to contribute more airpower.[104] The British Foreign Minister, William Hague, said he did not regard the meeting as a failure, even though it had not prompted any extra member nations to join the French, British and American led mission.[102] The Russian representative warned that NATO had gone beyond the UN mandate to only protect citizens, by attacking ground targets in Libya.[104]

Reactions to the decision to intervene[edit]

The International Federation for Human Rights stated that it welcomed the resolution which finally offers protection to civilians in Libya, who are the targets of crimes which can be considered crimes against humanity.[105] Muslim Brotherhood-linked Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi expressed his support for the no-fly zone put in place by the UN over Libya, saying, "The operation in Libya is to protect the civilians from Gaddafi's tyranny." Qaradawi also slammed Arab League leader and likely presidential candidate Amr Moussa for remarks criticizing the international intervention.[106] Al-Qaeda also stated that they support the uprising against Gaddafi.[107][108] Egypt reportedly has been shipping arms to Libya to arm the rebels.[109]

Kenneth Roth, executive director of the Human Rights Watch, stated that the Security Council at last lived up to its duty to prevent mass atrocities. He further commented the Arab League's role, stating that "the league had watched silently as Sudan's Omar al-Bashir committed crimes against humanity in Darfur – or, less recently, as Iraq's Saddam Hussein massacred Shia and Kurds, and Syria's Hafez al-Asad destroyed the town of Hama. But the league apparently sensed the winds of change wafting through the Middle East and North Africa, and felt compelled to respond."[110]

According to a French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) poll, only 36% of the population supported French participation in any military intervention in Libya in the run-up to the intervention. However, an IFOP poll conducted after the intervention began showed 66% supported the intervention, with no difference of opinion between the left-wing and right-wing.[111] In the US, opposition before the intervention was as high as 74%, according to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation,[112] while after the intervention a CBS News poll indicated 66% of Americans support the air and naval strikes, with 70% of Democrats and Republicans, and 65% of independents approving of missile and airstrikes. However, only 20% expect the no-fly zone to be "very effective" in protecting civilians and rebels from Gaddafi's forces.[113]

China, India, Russia and Turkey condemned the strikes by international forces.[114] Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, expressed great concern over civilians, clearly defining his position as supporting the UN Security Council resolution but not a bombing campaign.[115] However, Amr Moussa later clarified that his comments were misinterpreted, and that he does in fact support the air strikes, and reiterated his support for protecting civilians.[116] Turkey specifically singled out French leadership for ignoring the NATO alliance, which was left divided and split over the operation.[117][118] NATO members Germany and Poland are not participating in the campaign, and non-NATO member Malta did not offer its airports for use by coalition forces.[119][120]

In Britain the intervention has been broadly supported amongst politicians and the media, though it has also provoked strong opposition from a minority including UKIPLeader Nigel Farage MEP, former MP George Galloway and MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas.[121] [122] In the US, some politicians have voiced opposition to military action without congressional approval, or have requested clarifications and debate about US goals and how they will be achieved, including Democratic and Republican congressional representatives, Speaker of the House John Boehner,[123] House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon,[124] and Democratic House Caucus chair John Larson.[125] Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, has expressed doubts over the possibility of a better regime emerging if the rebels are victorious.[126] However, others such as Congressman Ron Paul have predicted more fortuitous results from the US-led intervention in Libya described as 'blow-back', especially regarding its long-term ramifications on standing American foreign policy.[127]

On 15 June, American congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Walter B. Jones announced a lawsuit they had launched a day before against President Obama in federal court to "challenge the commitment of the United States to war in Libya absent the required constitutional legal authority."[128]


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