The coalition need to proceed with care and extra caution.

Posted 30 Mar 2011 by Walaa Idris

It is well and good getting rid of Gaddafi and helping the Libyan people achieve democratic self rule – but what’s going to happen after he’s gone.

Unlike Egypt, where the revolution was fully fought and won by her people. Libyans had outside help, add to that they are less prepared for self-governance. Also, they are mostly tribal bound by traditions and clan loyalties.

Which makes talk about arming the rebels a double edged sword. On the one side it’s the only way to weaken the present regime and consequently finish it. But on the other it can turn Libya into a permanent war zone – into another Afghanistan. The aim might be arming the anti Gaddafi factions but how do we know that’s who we are arming? Could they have been infiltrated by a sinister element? The possibilities are there, unlike Europe, African borders are not tightly policed and monitored. Beside the Mediterranean on the North, Libya shares borders with Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Algeria and Tunisia – it doesn’t take a political genius to see the potential for the rebels becoming infiltrated. With the current fighting in full force for weeks faction groups from neighbouring nations might have already penetrated the rebel fighters. And let’s not forget that Gaddafi’s army are said to be part mercenary – how can we know for sure they too will not get their hands on these sophisticated weapons?

Obama might want to put this conflict to bed before he starts his re-election campaign – but the rest of the coalition members need not hurry or rush this decision. With what’s at stake, arming the Libyan rebels needs to be a carefully calibrated and vetted last option and its legality needs to be 100% unquestionable.

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