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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid