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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora