SP: ‘Ceasefire in Libya urgently needed’

23 June 2011

SP: ‘Ceasefire in Libya urgently needed’

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel is urging that the bombing of Libya be stopped. ‘An immediate cease-fire in order to enable humanitarian aid to be offered must be the overture to a solution to this war,’ he says. The Dutch government wants to offer three months support to the NATO countries which are bombing Libya. ‘In the last three months hundreds of cruise missiles have been fired and some 4,400 targets have been bombed from the air,’ Says Van Bommel. ‘That goes much further than UN Security Council Resolution 1973 permits.’ Meanwhile, in Strasbourg, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is also calling for a cease-fire.

Van Bommel stresses that back in March the SP welcomed the UN Resolution. A Dutch contribution to the enforcement of the arms embargo and no-fly zone was rejected because it quickly became clear that the countries who were carrying out the Resolution by violent means were failing to do so in a proportionate fashion. “Our judgment in March was that this operation was out of all proportion and that it would not be effective to carry out the Resolution in such a manner, a judgement which has since been shown to be sound.”

The fervently hoped for Arab contribution to this war was as it turned out offered by only a very few countries. The mission in Libya was intended to give support to the Arab spring, but only the UAE, Jordan and Qatar are taking part in the war in Libya. As Van Bommel points out, “these are countries where political reforms are also needed and must be forced through, countries of which democratisation has also been demanded and where it has not occurred.”

The Dutch government has this year only a limited budget for operations abroad. With the €15 million that this operation will have cost by September, that budget will be exhausted. What this means, Van Bommel says, is that “no follow up in the form of a genuine peacekeeping operation can be paid for out of this budget, which shows that taking part in the bombing raids was clearly a choice, and a bad one.”

Because the Gadhafi regime met the uprising of the Libyan people with such so violence, UN Resolution 1973 was adopted on 17th March, its primary aim being an immediate cease-fire and a complete end to all attacks against civilians. Yet the demand for a cease-fire has been forgotten and the war could turn out to be lengthy, with all that implies. “Italy,” says Van Bommel, “the country from which many of the bombing raids have been conducted, now finds that a cease-fire is needed. This offers a real chance for a political solution to this war.”
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which is currently meeting to discuss the situation in the North Africa-Middle East region, has also come out in favour of a cease-fire, and has asked the Arab League to declare its support.

SP Senate leader Tiny Kox, who is also chair of the United Left political group in PACE – an assembly in which every parliament in Europe is represented - says that ‘the warring parties in Libya must now stack their weapons and NATO should suspend its bombing campaign. International observers should supervise the enforcement of a cease-fire. Most political groups are in agreement that the violence must stop and a peaceful solution be given a chance. Continuing the violence would be a dead-end, for everyone. The NATO bombing was originally seen as part of the solution, a way of keeping Gadhafi’s air force on the ground. But the raids have now become a part of the problem, targeting everything and anything and causing ever more civilian casualties.

In Syria too the violent attacks by President Assad’s forces against the population, which have been going on for months, must end. “More than a thousand dead, ten thousand imprisoned, and thousands forced to flee, and millions of Syrian citizens who want peace, security and democracy,” says Kox. “In Syria there’s no question of military intervention, yet there is a great need for international solidarity with the organisations which are trying to coordinate resistance. In contact with these groups, it has been impressed on me how important such solidarity is to them at this time.”

Kox and his colleagues in the United Left group are urging that observers, journalists and international aid workers be given access to Syria and Libya, and that European countries offer assistance to Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey in coping with the flow of refugees. “These countries should be complimented for offering shelter to people fleeing violence in their own countries, and in this they deserve our support,” he says.

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