News / Africa

Libyan Rebels Keeping Track of Who's Helping Now

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird (L) exchanges gifts with the head of Libya's National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil, during his first visit to the rebel-held city of Benghazi, June 27, 2011
Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird (L) exchanges gifts with the head of Libya's National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil, during his first visit to the rebel-held city of Benghazi, June 27, 2011
Elizabeth Arrott

Libyan rebels are depending heavily on international help in their drive to topple leader Moammar Gadhafi. Some nations, like France and Britain, stepped in early to back the opposition. Turkey has just declared its support, while others remain undecided. The rebels say they will remember who did what - and when they did it.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird strides to the podium. His cotton suit is as befitting the heat of a Benghazi afternoon as his rebel lapel pin is of the occasion.

"I'm very pleased to be here and to lend our strong support to you and your fellow countrymen for your struggle in this revolution," said Baird. "Canada was an early supporter of the call for the United Nations to bring in sanctions."

Baird is among the latest in a string of foreign envoys to make an appearance in the rebel's defacto capital, and he used his visit to stress Ottawa's solidarity with the anti-Gadhafi cause.  

Jalal elGalal, a spokesman for the Transitional National Council [TNC], is among those thankful for the support of Canada, whose General Charles Bouchard is leading the U.N.-backed NATO mission to protect civilians in Libya.

He is also grateful to the dozen countries that have granted the TNC diplomatic recognition. But gratitude has its limits.    

"Symbolically, it's all very well. But what we need now, we need it to translate into something practical," said elGalal. "Gadhafi's playing for time. And this time is to make sure discontent grows in the liberated area. And this will happen if the lack of the finances is prolonged more than it already has."

From the money needed to pay salaries, to the training needed to ensure a peaceful transition, rebel officials say more is needed now.

Interior Minister Ahmed al Darrat said many envoys, in particular from the United States, Britain and France, have promised training and equipment for the police force he oversees. Unfortunately, he added, nothing has happened yet. He is hopeful French help will be coming soon.  

The motives for support are many. After a slow start in showing solidarity in the early days of the "Arab Awakening," many in the West feel they want to be on what they view as the right side of history. And if Gadhafi does leave the scene, they would rather not repeat the chaos of post-U.S-invasion Iraq, which was widely blamed on a lack of planning. The prospect of a stable, friendly, oil-producing friend in North Africa also has its appeal.

For some of the rebels, the 'why' of foreign intervention almost does not matter. Spokesman elGalal points to Qatar, the first Arab nation to recognize the rebels. The Gulf state supports the NATO mission, funds rebel media, and recently gave the TNC $100 million in cash.  

"The Qataris took the best approach, which is 'advance today, win the hearts and minds, and later on you'll get your rewards.' It's a philosophy that is working [and] that is very smart," said elGalal.

But not all nations are ready to abandon support for Libya's long-time leader, at least not yet. Russia and China, for their own reasons, have argued against foreign intervention in other countries' affairs. But China also has hosted members of the Libyan government and the rebel movement.    

Moscow and Beijing are joined by the Arab League in other reservations, in particular over what they see as mission creep: NATO moving from protection of civilians to apparent regime change.    

Such qualified approaches have earned the contempt of some in the rebel camp. NATO member Germany abstained from voting on the U.N. resolution on the alliance's intervention, something rebel military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani said calls for shame.  

"After liberation, paradise will appear in North Africa," he said. "This paradise is Libya. No one will be in this paradise if he didn't support us now - that's all."

Such score settling is not shared by everyone in the opposition, and perhaps reflects only a passing frustration. But it just could be a sign of the kind of intemperate policies many hope a future Libya will avoid, and what help now could prevent.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid