Dear Amr Moussa: Have the Arab states put their military assets where their mouth is; that’s in Libya!

Media Voices: Arab support on quicksand / All Voices: Now the operation is bad! / L.A. Times: Double standards and hypocrisy / Al Masri Al Youm, Cairo: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? (The massacre or the bombings?) / Dave Brown in the Independent, London: in any case, it’s the (western) weapons doing the talking now

Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, called for the intervention in Libya in the name of the Arab world. He was present in Paris when concrete decisions were made to launch the attack. He spoke as the elected and highest representative of no fewer than 22 Arab states. In short, he legitimated the strikes on behalf of the entire Arab sphere.

With his presence and his pronouncements Moussa created the faulty impression that the Arab peoples will back the Western intervention – that France, Great Britain and the U.S. did not need to worry about being derided as colonialists or even modern-day Crusaders.

But Amr Moussa’s support was half-hearted at best. At no point did he or his organization want to take actual responsibility for the war. That was already obvious from the Arab states’ conspicuous absence in the operation itself (even though they command large militaries with hundreds of high-tech jets). The bottom line was that Arab leaders wanted the West to do their dirty work.

We didn’t have to wait long for the other shoe to drop. Veteran politico Moussa, who under Hosni Mubarak served as foreign minister of his country (and, by the way, mine), was suddenly shocked – shocked! – at the damage wrought by the bombs. He apparently had not realized that airstrikes on Libyan territory would result in the deaths of civilians…he didn’t mean those kinds of bombings…and after all, these attacks had to stop…

Moussa’s rhetorical gymnastics might be summarized by the following Arab saying: ويخاف من الحبل Roughly translated, it means that some people sure do enjoy a romp in the bed, but not the responsibility of a pregnancy.


Moussa later again reverted to endorsing the operation, having made his point with his domestic audience (he is, after all, an aspirant to the presidency) and ruffled some diplomatic feathers.

But the fact remains that the Arab League is not putting its military assets where its mouth is. The result is, that by accepting the Arab League’s invitation to intervene in Libya, the West walked into a classic political trap. It won’t help the West's credibility, by the way, that Nato looked away when Saudi Arabia and Bahrain crushed the protests in Pearl Square.

Please click here for a German version

Michael Walzer in NPR: Not Libya, Not Now


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