Following yesterday's UN resolution authorizing the implementation of a no-fly zone over Libya, complete with possible airstrikes, France and the U.K. are reportedly planning for airstrikes. Italy, with a strong post-colonial trading relationship with Libya, will be participating, Germany sitting out but voicing moral support ("our abstention should not be confused with neutrality," Angela Merkel clarified), while other countries contribute planes here and there.
But what are Libya's neighbors up to? There has been particular talk of how Egypt and Tunisia, having sparked the Libyan protests with their own unrest, will react, though eyes are also turned to the authoritarian regimes that remain in place throughout the region. Buried in the text of the UN's resolution is a recognition of the importance of other countries in the region, mentioning the Arab League by name.
So as fighter craft lift off, where are Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, and Syria? Where is the African Union? A quick rundown of what we can find of the official (and unofficial) positions:
African Union: Talking The BBC reports at 16:49 GMT that "the African Union is sending a delegation of five heads of state, including Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni, to Tripoli to talk to Col Gaddafi," as planned prior to the UN resolution.
Tunisia: Staying out of the action. Taking part in military intervention, government spokesman Taieb Bakouch says, according to the BBC, "is out of the question."
Jordan: Supportive from a distance According to Al-Arabiya's Twitter feed, the country "backs" the UN resolution "but will not take part in possible airstrikes."
Lebanon: The one thing Lebanon can agree upon The Guardian's James Denselow pointed out Wednesday that Lebanon, which remains "deeply divided" over its own government, has come out strongly in support of international action against Libya. Why? The Lebanese still want to know what happened to Imam Musa al-Sadr, "a hugely influential Shia cleric who disappeared [in Libya] in 1978. Last month a former colonel in Gaddafi's army said Libyan agents had assassinated Sadr and buried him in the southern city of Sabha." Yet at the same time, "a Libyan opposition activist ... claimed Sadr was still alive," while Sadr's son believes he is "being held captive."
Egypt: 100% there, secretly The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night that Egypt's military is now arming Libyan rebels, shipping "mostly small arms such as assault rifles and ammunition" in the "first confirmed case of an outside government arming the rebel fighters." The Journal's Charles Levinson and Matthew Rosenberg also called the shipments "the strongest indication to date that some Arab countries are heeding Western calls to take a lead in efforts to intervene on behalf of pro-democracy rebels." That said, the same report cited an unnamed U.S. official saying "Egypt wanted to keep the shipments covert," appearing in public to be neutral--the Journal report, presumably, wasn't exactly in keeping with this plan.
Arab League: An early no-fly vote That came last week, and, as the Journal also notes, "provided critical political cover to Western powers wary of intervening militarily without broad regional and international mandate."
United Arab Emirates and Qatar: Count us in The Journal reports these two have, according to UN diplomats, "taken the lead in offering to participate in enforcing a no-fly zone"--that would be, as far as we can see, the first case of a Middle East country actually offering to participate in the coming international intervention plans
Syria, Algeria, Mauritania: Count us out The Ahul Bayt News Agency, a Shia news source, was one of several to report that, even at the time of the Arab League resolution, Syria's ambassador to the Arab League, Yousef Ahmad, voiced strong objection, after the vote going so far as to declare that Syra was not a part of the resolutuion. "Following the announcement of the Syrian stance, Algeria's Foreign minister and head of the Mauritanian delegation asked for their countries' stances to be registered against the content of the resolution" as well.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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