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Is it legal to arm the Libyan rebels?

Nick Robinson | 08:24 UK time, Wednesday, 30 March 2011

I understand that the government believes arming the Libyan rebels may be legal in certain circumstances. Although the United Nations has backed an arms embargo on Libya, ministers believe if arming the rebels was the only way to "protect civilians", the over-riding objective of United Nations resolution 1973 - it could be legal.

William Hague

The foreign secretary gave a clear indication of this in answer to a question I asked at the news conference at the end of Tuesday's London Conference:

Robinson: Do you fear that it may not be possible to protect Libyan civilians from the air? Did today's conference discuss the possibility of arming the opposition, as they have requested, or do you fear that if you did so you might be arming some at least who have al-Qaeda sympathies?

William Hague: We didn't discuss at the conference today arming the opposition - that was not one of the subjects for discussion....You're right that this subject has been raised of course by the interim transitional national council. But it is not part of any agreement today- the United Kingdom takes into account the UN Security Council resolutions on this. Those resolutions in our view apply to the whole of Libya. Although it is consistent with the UN Security Council resolution 1973 to give people aid in order to defend themselves in particular circumstances but we haven't discussed that so no new decision to communicate to you about that.

Labour have responded by circulating the prime minister's words in the Commons a few weeks ago:

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Speaking as someone who has watched well-armed Bosnian Serb units smash through civilian populations, may I ask my right hon. Friend the prime minister whether Security Council resolution 1973 allows us, under its provision on "all necessary measures", to avoid the arms embargo and directly arm the people who are fighting against Gaddafi in Benghazi and elsewhere?

The prime minister: The first point I would make to my hon. Friend is how welcome it was that Bosnia was sitting on the Security Council and able to vote in favour of this resolution-for good historical reasons. The resolution helps to enforce the arms embargo, and our legal understanding is that that arms embargo applies to the whole of Libya. Paragraph 4 authorises member states:

"[T]o take all necessary measures...to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack" in Libya, including Benghazi. That is very strong language, which allows states to take a number of military steps to protect people and harm those who are intending to damage civilians. It could not be clearer, and the legal advice is clear."

My understanding is that the National Security Council have not yet discussed any change of policy to arm the rebels.

PS The foreign secretary has added some further detail to the perceived legality of arming the Libyan rebels, in an interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight last night. The UK's reading of the UN resolution, said Mr Hague, is that "it might allow equipment to be given to the rebels purely to defend themselves in a limited way". When pressed further on what sort of equipment, he added: "only very limited ones in terms of calibre... But we're not proposing to arm the rebels in any form and not planning to do that - it raises policy as well as legal questions".
His caution was understandable - minutes later on the same programme a spokesman for the Arab League (a crucial partner in the international coalition) warned - albeit rather ambiguously - "we don't talk about arming one group against another group. We have to be careful".

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Such a difficult decision, and I wonder whether the main decider of whether a specific decision is right or wrong is luck.

  • Comment number 2.

    So basically the public schoolboy coalition remains in disarray ...

    ... start the war first, figure out what you want to achieve second.



    (Work out if you have enough resources left in the armed forces third?)

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    It is almost an irrelevant question as whether to arm these freedom fighters or not.

    In that, the type of weapons they need would have to be operated by fairly skilled people, not enthusiastic amateurs.

    What is rather odd about all this is where are the Libyan forces in the east of the country who switched sides?

    We should be told.



  • Comment number 5.

    4. At 09:25am on 30th Mar 2011, JohnConstable wrote:
    It is almost an irrelevant question as whether to arm these freedom fighters or not.
    In that, the type of weapons they need would have to be operated by fairly skilled people, not enthusiastic amateurs.
    ===================================

    Model to look at is the US special forces/CIA and the northern alliance. Provide weapons & ammunition, small number of special forces provide training (if needed) and then act as forward air controllers. Western forces provide air support.

    The rebels are already operating crew served 'heavy' weapons such as mutiple rocket launchers and apparently even a fighter jet on one occassion. Presumably these are ex-armed forces personnel leading the amateurs.

    Bigger question is not can we do this, it's should we do this?

    Is it legal when there is an arms embargo? Can we have a think about the long term blow back for once? What weapons would we be willing to provide given the risk that some of them will end the conflict 'unaccounted for' ? This is not blood free, are we content with the human cost?

    Biggest question: what are the consequences of starting a war on Gadaffi then leaving him in power?

  • Comment number 6.

    Any update on what's to be done about Ivory Coast? I understand the supporters of the UN-backed president are slowly winning ground, much in the same way the Libyan rebels are slowly winning ground. Civilians seem to be being harmed in both situations.

  • Comment number 7.

    Tricky one. 1973's "all necessary measures" is very elastic. The lessons of history, particularly where Afghanistan is concerned (although I readily concede, I am not comparing like with like) would say that arming the rebels is a bad idea. And almost certainly a breach of the arms embargo.

    If I had to come down on one side or the other, my gut instinct would be No.

  • Comment number 8.

    #2 cheap shoot give blairs record

  • Comment number 9.

    The naivety of politicians is outstanding

    It was never going to be the case that Gadeffi would "Surrender" because of the loss of his radar stations , then we started to attacking his army . The reality is approx 50% of Libya may will support Gadeffi v the rebels alternative.

    By moving the goalposts on a weekly basis the United Nations mandate is becoming increasingly meaningless, to the point where it is becoming irrelevant.

    Yet again it appears the old imperial powers are flexing their muscles against a small middle east nation. No wonder Iran wants to become a nuclear power , you can see their point...

  • Comment number 10.

    Let me get this right? We could be arming groups affiliated to Al Qaeeda?

    The Tories.....making a mess worse...

  • Comment number 11.

    Ask a judge in the appropriate Court.

  • Comment number 12.

    7. At 09:50am on 30th Mar 2011, Fubar_Saunders wrote:

    "If I had to come down on one side or the other, my gut instinct would be No."

    And if I may say, the correct decision, if we have any hope of keeping the UN onside and the coalition in place.

  • Comment number 13.

    jon112dk @ 5

    Now that Warthogs and the Spectre are involved, it would seem that many of the remaining Libyan military loyal to Gaddafi will die.

    If enough of them are slaughtered, then the freedom fighters will not require much in the way of advanced weaponry.

    That seem to be the current calculation.

    War is an obscene and gruesome business but overwhelming force is what is required to prevail.

    One way or another, Gaddafi is finished as he cannot be allowed to fester on in Western Libya.

  • Comment number 14.

    Arming the rebels will cause a even bigger blood bath than the current situation. The airborne war must already caused over 5000 Libyan deaths of men doing their duty as soldiers being part of Gaddifi's army . Are their lives irrelevant !

    The solution won't be providing additional arms but getting a cease fire arranged to protect people on both sides .

    Providing additional arms will lead to just a bigger bloodbath on both sides.

  • Comment number 15.

    Mr N/Fubar

    On balance I concur with the No argument, although it is a difficult decision. Arming a group of rebels with no command structure seems to be asking for trouble and on a practical level it is tanks they need and I cannot see anyone willing to donate those, unless the Arab league is willing to intevene.

  • Comment number 16.

    Considering Gadaffi armed the terrorist IRA to attack Britain, I think we are quite within our legal rights to arm the Libyan rebels against him, shoot down his airliners, and murder his police officers from the windows of our embassy in Tripoli.

  • Comment number 17.

    How appropriate that my post 223 was the last on the previous blog as it fully and accurately summarised the importance of Saturday's event in London. At the end of the day, it meant nothing really, other than perhaps to those directly involved. Cambridge won, but does it really matter?

    As to arming the Libyan rebels. As I've already said, I'm not too sure what's going on out there so my instinct is that we shouldn't. And my instinct is usually pretty good. Take, for instance, the idea of some world tax authority. My instinct tells me it's a laughable non-starter and will never happen.

  • Comment number 18.

    Well our brief is to protect civilians, isn't it? And given a civil war would be bloody and lead to much civilian suffering, we shouldn't do anything - e.g. arm the rebels - which makes it more likely. No, our 'outs' as far as I can see are:

    1. Gaddafi gives up and belatedly takes up William Hague's invitation to go live in Venezuela. Or failing that, perhaps a house on the Wentworth Estate.

    2. The rebels give in and hand the country back to Gaddafi. He picks up from where he was so rudely interrupted.

    3. Libya gets partitioned and the civil war takes a raincheck. Would not in fact be 'civil' when it breaks out, not technically, since two countries.

    Guess our preference order is 1 then 3 then 2. Or 2 then 3?

    And as to probabilities? Hmm.

  • Comment number 19.

    13. At 10:11am on 30th Mar 2011, JohnConstable wrote:

    US campaign with northern alliance is poorly reported by our lefty media, but well documented elsewhere. Less than 100 US personnnel actually in Afghanistan, assisted by northern alliance/pashtun & air power, took a whole country in under a month. US casualties due to enemy action: zero.

    You're right that they don't need that much in the way of the most tricky weapons (tanks or anti-aircraft systems for example). The air power compensates for that. Weapons such as rocket launchers, a liberal supply of ammo and suitcases full of 100 dollar bills seem to the main requirements. The special forces supply the other high tech requirements such as satellite and ground to air communications with the western forces.

    There are known limitations to this model -

    * You can't control the rebels with regard to any human rights abuses they commit once they are winning.

    * They will only attack what they perceive as being in their own interests - for example the afghans let us down badly at tora-bora and let bin-laden literally walk away.

    * The model is untested in urban terrain, if the enemy is willing to fight rather than run off.

    * This is blood free from our perspective, NOT for the local people.

  • Comment number 20.

    'William Hague: We didn't discuss at the conference today arming the opposition - that was not one of the subjects for discussion....'

    Find that hard to believe. 'Off the record' perhaps.

  • Comment number 21.

    10#

    The only thing you have got to hang it on the tories is because Nick Robinson says so. Nobody else.

    Nothing states anywhere that this is going to be official coalition policy. The answers Hague gave are that the subject has not been discussed.

  • Comment number 22.

    No point trying to roll forward losing arguments from one thread to another, Andy (17). They lose once, they'll lose again. The form-book doesn't lie. We're on Libya now and I note you're not gung ho for arming the rebels. Me neither. I realise its attraction as a conscience salver, since we've already armed the Gaddafi regime, but I can't see that it's within the UN mandate.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    In my opinion, very important to stay within the terms of UN resolution 1973.

    I was surprised 1973 was not vetoed by China and Russia anyway. If we stretch either the letter or the spirit of 1973 too far we make it difficult if not impossible to gain support at the UN for some crisis in the future.

  • Comment number 25.

    Fubar 7

    Explain this one to me because it is something which bothers me about the whole thing. The idea behind this UN agreement is to protect the lives of civilians as I understand it. If the rebels are given arms and they cause a blood bath on those who support Gaddafi, is this not classed as killing civilians as well?

    I also thought that it was illegal to bring about regime change in a sovereign country by outside forces from other Countries with or without a UN mandate. How then do we explain away, that Britain is helping to bring this about by the actions taken to help the rebels?.

    This is a right mess to my way of thinking, Britain should have had a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve and who and what is behind this rebellion against Gaddafi, before they started it.

  • Comment number 26.

    @ Fubar (7)

    "If I had to come down on one side or the other, my gut instinct would be No."

    ----------

    Yet again, I find myself agreeing with Fubar on this matter... even though I tend to disagree with him about virtually everything else that gets discussed on this blog!

    We armed (and trained) the 'rebel' mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet Union and look where that got us... that is, now facing an armed and well-trained 'rebel' force in Afghanistan ourselves.

    History shows that today's rebels often turn out to be tomorrow's evil dictators; Robert Mugabe - and Ghaddafi himself - being prime examples.

    We should stay the heck out of it; should have since the start.

    And now people are being slaughtered in Bahrain but we appear to be turning a blind eye, because we daren't step on the toes of Saudi Arabia; maybe because the Saudis happen to control a majority of the world's oil, perchance?. And let's face, there's scant oil reserves in Bahrain and none in the Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Congo, Tibet... and so the list goes.

    The West has wanted rid of Ghaddafi for ages. We also need to energy security (i.e. safe oil) at a time of rising oil prices and global recession. The recent uprising in Libya presents the perfect opportunity to meet both of these objectives - and heh, if we can save a few lives in the process, then great. Right??

  • Comment number 27.

    In my opinion the main legal challenge would be whether arming the rebels violates both the UN arms embargo AND the resolution to protect civilians - arming the rebels is something entirely different to providing civilians with means to defend themselves. The rebels have the full intention to persist in armed conflict to overthrow Gadaffi, and whether we agree on the need to remove Gadaffi or not, no one could possibly suggest that civilian casualities are not a direct consequence of armed conflict. If we arm the rebels and they continue advance on Tripoli civilian casualties will increase which means we would be directly contravening the arms embargo, and indirectly violating the resolution to stop harm coming to civilians. This course of action appears to suggest that Gadaffi's forces are the only ones posing a risk to civilians - do we honestly believe that every single armed rebel will not harm civilian supporters of Gadaffi?

    The only way to satisfy the legal requirements of both the resolution and the embargo would be to negotiate a cease fire between the two sides as quickly as possible.

    One thing that is absolutely clear is that the UN charter does not permit intervention on the grounds of regime change - though I see very little legal pondering over the implications of how arming an uprising, using a resolution to justify contravening a UN embargo, does not directly aid regime change sufficient to violate the Charter.

  • Comment number 28.

    #17 nice to know you have good instinct, anything else we should know about?

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Giving arms to any side in a conflict is a bad idea. Those arms eventually come back to bite you.

  • Comment number 31.

    I cannot remember whether it was a poster on a Beeb Blog or a correspondent on R4 who pointed out that Libya is a collection of tribes who have been kept together as a country under the thumb of a powerful previous rebel/ruler/dictator/President {strike out that title which you do not prefer} for 40 odd years.

    There seems to be unhappy scope for leaving Libya in greater turmoil than Iraq was after Gulf 2 if 'we' are not extremely careful.

  • Comment number 32.

    "22 At 10:49am on 30th Mar 2011, sagamix wrote:
    No point trying to roll forward losing arguments from one thread to another,"

    But that's your standard modus operandi, why change now?

  • Comment number 33.


    All necessary measures...

    This seems to allows supplying arms, but training and organization are also vital, and how do we ensure those arms aren't later used to attack civilian centres like Sirte and Tripoli?

    Of just as much interest, is whether we can effectively trade with the Eastern rebels while maintaining economic, military and political pressure on Gaddafi & Co.

    Qatar have agreed to facilitate opening the oil supply, but will they really be able to function in a war zone, especially while the front line is so fluid?

    If trade is possible, the immediate boost to prosperity and stability in the Eastern region would soon be in stark contrast to the austerity and uncertainty in those parts of the country still under the colonel's control.

    This is how to win over hearts and minds.

    But the message must get through, and defeating 'Daffi's propaganda machine is another priority.

    Once income is being generated, will Libya see Rebel TV?



  • Comment number 34.

    Well it would help if we could actually identify the so called innocent civilians who we are supposed to be protecting?
    Watching Foxy answering questions yesterday, it would seem that they are only such if they support the rebels.
    So if you happen to be a Gaddafi supporting Civilian, I guess you can’t rely on the Alliance (sic) to help you out.

    So it’s got nothing to do with regime change then; oh Davy, pull the other one!

    Wait...arming the Rebels....could this be an opportunity for Team GB to pick up a few orders on the back of this misery & make a few Bob?

    Great thinking Boys; Statoil have pulled out of a 3 Billion Pounds North Sea deal thanks to Boy George’s pathetic North Sea Tax hike, so I guess an opportunity to create more work through this fiasco could be on the cards.

    http://news.stv.tv/scotland/north/239694-major-energy-firm-pull-out-of-north-sea-following-tax-hike/

  • Comment number 35.

    "If the rebels are given arms and they cause a blood bath on those who support Gaddafi, is this not classed as killing civilians as well?"

    Indeed. That is the 64000 dollar question. I would say yes, it is.

    Totally agree with the rest of your post by the way.

  • Comment number 36.

    26#

    somewhat cynical, but I dare say, accurate.

  • Comment number 37.

    25. Susan-Croft

    Yes indeed; when is an innocent Civilian not an innocent Civilian?
    Answer: When they support Gaddafi (the Regime we apparently don’t want to push to change...Mmm Yes).

    This whole thing is getting vaguer by the day as Team UK give their weasel worded interpretations to yet another loosely worded UN resolution.

  • Comment number 38.

    2. At 09:13am on 30th Mar 2011, jon112dk wrote:
    So basically the public schoolboy coalition remains in disarray ...

    ... start the war first, figure out what you want to achieve second.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As opposed to the alternative of doing nothing at all until it's too late? For all your anti-Labour rhetoric, you sure as hell approach matters in the same way.

  • Comment number 39.

    AndyC555 @ 17

    'And my instinct is usually pretty good.'

    Bowing to your superior knowledge on life, the universe, and everything, is there any chance you could let me know who will win the 4.30 at Lingfield? I can put this month's mortgage on it and treat Mrs Bass God to a slap up feed at the local Harvester. Better still, our beloved Chancellor can restore the nation's finances and it will all be down to you!

    'Life's always better when you twang a G-string'

  • Comment number 40.

    If Cameron wants to arm the Libyan rebels, presumably they're a different breed from the 'mindless thugs' who smashed in a few London ATMs and occupied Top Shop last saturday?

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Some of our bloggers suggest moral equivalence to Gaddafi and the freedom fighters and question whether such fighters will massacre Gaddafi supporting civilians if they get the opportunity.

    It might be pertinent to point out that journalists working in Eastern Libya appear to have more-or-less total freedom of movement and thus would probably be able to report on any misbehaviour by fighters on that front.

    Whereas, clearly very different rules are being applied to journalists on the Gaddafi side and their movements are closely controlled.

    There is no moral equivalence going on here.

  • Comment number 43.

    Once more we are in a mess because our Government doesn't accept that we are a small Northern European country who's interests are best served in keeping a low profile in these geo-political conflicts. First Blair now the ConDems. Please let us support a UN "peace" keeping force or even the EU where the response is from a recognised group and not individual countries.

    Should we arm the insurgents, well apart from the obvious that we shouldn't be in this position in the first place, the answer is NO (which appears to be the Left right consensus on this Blog) Given where we are we should be sure of who the insurgents are and who they might become. Plenty of examples of errors here we armed Saddam Hussein in the 80's and the notorious support of Al Quaeda in Russian occupied Afghanistan (Look at the consquences). Until then the question shouldn't be asked.

    Finally a cheap shot, but I can't resist it, has any one noticed the impending civil war in Cote D'Ivoire where an elected government has been denied its victory and the unelected previous leader is clinging on to power, the army etc. and is beginning to massacre his opposition! I suspect more will be killed there than in Libya but there is no press interest, no oil, no strategic benefit, the opposition is predominantly muslim and no self righteous Western politicians are intervening.

    Please don't tell me that our great leadership is in Libya for the benefit of the poor people after all that not that interested in that group here.

  • Comment number 44.

    Is it legal to arm the Libyan rebels?

    Something I read once has always stuck in my mind and it is that the law is there to be:

    a) obeyed by the masses

    b) be used by the sophisticated as a tool to further their ends.

    Although, in this specific case, I believe, as POTUS Obama stated that this is a just cause, the UN resolution 1973 has been carefully framed such that the sophisticated {politicians} can indeed use it as a tool to further their ends.

  • Comment number 45.

    Nice to see so many tribal political flag-wavers using the Libya issue as an excuse to shout at the opposing tribal political flag-wavers.

    Fact is, this is something that affects all of us in the UK, regardless of political persuasion, and taking cheap political shots at each other brings nothing to the table.

    Like Fubar, I'm not convinced we should be arming the rebels, despite having no sympathy for Gaddafi whatsoever. A No-Fly Zone is one thing, but putting guns (or troops) on the ground is another matter entirely.

    Of course, it should also be noted that all the issues involved in this matter are likely far more complex than all of us in this blog appreciate, as it's not as if we'll ever get the full story (or a balanced one) from the media.

  • Comment number 46.

    That really is desperate dan stuff, Robin (41). Anybody interested - quite staggeringly few I'd wager, but you never know - can scroll back to the previous thread and can form their own view as to the tale it tells. Being me exposing the 'demo v boat race' comparison for the fatuous nonsense it is. Not a single mention of Libya in your post either. Wonder why? Or I don't, rather, since I know. It's because there isn't a great deal of obvious anti-Labour propaganda to be peddled on that particular subject.

  • Comment number 47.

    "8. At 09:55am on 30th Mar 2011, IR35_SURVIVOR wrote:
    #2 cheap shoot give blairs record"

    I'm not a Blair fan but he got it spot on on Sierra Leone and Bosnia (even possibly Afghanistan). He screwed up over Iraq (although I believe the intervetion was good for the Kurdish and Marsh Arabs).

    All campaigns that the Tories supported incidently.....

    The Tories...making the mess worse......

  • Comment number 48.

    Hmmm … On sober reflection it now looks like the UN Resolution has been so worded as to allow virtually anything to be done to protect the right type of Libyan civilian; which is an enormous problem, especially given the endlessly repeated new Tory mantra of ‘keeping strictly within the terms of 1973’ (though has a pleasant, nostalgic ring to it; Slade anyone ??? …) …

    If the worst fears are realised and this turns into a two - sided bloodbath, then is there a case for introducing a UN Peacekeeping Force to create and enforce a partition, with a mandate to maintain this until peaceful negotiations can take place that lead to a bloodless settlement, or does that run counter to the sotto voce, gung - ho ‘get Gaddafi’ goal ??? … This avoids arming anyone (which has only ever led to more blood being spilled than it was intended to prevent) and might restore some credibility to the UN …

  • Comment number 49.

    De Ja Vu...........Oh this is going to come spectaculary un-stuck Olli North style....Unless of course you can have a use by date on anything sold that self destructs after completion of what they are intended.

  • Comment number 50.

    Saga and World Tax Authorities:

    Saga, I think your idea of a World Tax Authority is a good one, though I agree with Andy in that it won't happen, not in my or my childrens lifetime anyway. However I'm afraid to say that you are sadly delusioned if you really that this would stop tax evasion. This is because tax evasion is simply people not paying the amount of tax that others think they should. You've made it quite clear that adhering to legal tax rules is not enough for you so it is certain that you would still not be happy even with a World Tax Authority. I suggest there is only one condition that would elimitate tax evasion, and that would be no tax across the whole world. Is that what you are asking for I wonder?

  • Comment number 51.

    Re 44 and International Law ...

    Since, as demonstrated to disastrous effect by our most senior Law Officer before the Iraq War, International Law can be interpreted to suit, it is perhaps timely to reflect upon the great Devil's Dictionary definition of a Lawyer; one skilled in circumvention of the Law ...

  • Comment number 52.

    38. At 11:36am on 30th Mar 2011, Marnip wrote:
    As opposed to the alternative of doing nothing at all until it's too late? For all your anti-Labour rhetoric, you sure as hell approach matters in the same way.
    =====================

    You need to actually read what I post rather than just lazy stereotyping.

    If snooty and co. stated a coherent plan to topple gadaffi and facilitate a democratic government in a short time span I would support them. Likewise if they had made a firm policy decision that this is nothing to do with a minor country like the disunited kingdom and kept their noses out of it.

    What I don't support is this ridiculous situation where they have started a war without any idea of what to do next.

  • Comment number 53.

    50#

    God, he'd have to go and lie down in a darkened room for a few hours before answering that question!

  • Comment number 54.

    43. At 12:08pm on 30th Mar 2011, Spirit-of-56 wrote:

    "...has any one noticed the impending civil war in Cote D'Ivoire where an elected government has been denied its victory and the unelected previous leader is clinging on to power, the army etc. and is beginning to massacre his opposition! I suspect more will be killed there than in Libya but there is no press interest, no oil, no strategic benefit..."

    ----------

    ^ Exactly my point earlier. Cameron is playing the same game as Blair by denying any 'strategic interest' in Libya. Our country is supposedly bankrupt, yet we're able to selectively intervene in conflicts for humanitarian reasons? It simply doesn't add up.

    PS: @ Robin (41): I'm still convinced you're a left-wing activist trying to smear the Tory stereotype. Keep fighting the good fight, comrade!

  • Comment number 55.

    Sighs @ 50

    There will always be avoidance (within the law) and evasion (outside it); what the 'WTA' should eliminate is the practice of a corporate manipulating for fiscal planning purposes (either legally or not) the geographical profile of their profits.

    So, yes, a great idea from me, but best leave it there since this is Libya. On which subject, we seem to have a developing Blog consensus that arming the rebels isn't really very 1973.

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    46 sagamix

    " Being me exposing the 'demo v boat race' comparison for the fatuous nonsense it is. "
    ==============================

    With the number of different nom-de-plumes you're using on here these days, you're well on the way to a having a full boat crew on your own.

    It used to be amusing, but using different names to support your own posts really is sad beyond words.

  • Comment number 58.

    This is a very scary time and certain things should not be overlooked, in my opinion this is now a full blown Civil war and this should be between the rebels (who I do not consider civilians) and the government forces - we should monitor for humanitarian reasons for example if a peaceful protest is attacked or supporters of the government are attacked in cold blood by the rebel army.

    We should NOT under any circumstance be arming the rebel army - we have no control of these people, we do not know who they are and they are not answerable to anyone - this is a huge error if this goes ahead, we will regret this and I am sure that rounds be give them will at some point find their way into the hands of those attacking British troops on a daily basis else where in the world.

    In terms of what we are doing at the moment and the UN resolution, we should not be providing close air support to the rebel army or attacking government forces on the ground, it is not our war, they are not our people and we do not have the right to decide who we think should run the country.

    On a final point, democracy cannot be given to a nation - they have to earn it and in most cases die for it, only then will the democracy which results last and provide stable government respected by the people - John Mills' doctrine of self determination. Don't forget all nations have to fight for democracy at some point, we did, America did, France did etc etc, yes this may have been centuries ago but all countries have different life spans.

    We need to leave them to it, they need to fight this one on their own, they need the backing of the Libyan army and take their country by themselves, this may not happen now but when it does it will be legitimate, hard-fought and worth dying for.

    Sorry to go on, v. passionate about this.

  • Comment number 59.

    52. At 12:45pm on 30th Mar 2011, jon112dk wrote:

    What I don't support is this ridiculous situation where they have started a war without any idea of what to do next.

    ================

    Jon, surely not even you are stupid enough to think the tories started a so called war in Libya?

    Or maybe I'm just too willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

  • Comment number 60.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 61.

    42. JohnConstable wrote:

    Some of our bloggers suggest moral equivalence to Gaddafi and the freedom fighters and question whether such fighters will massacre Gaddafi supporting civilians if they get the opportunity.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    As i’ve already pointed out, Liam Fox seemed to be rather vague as to whether the Coalition forces would attack Rebel Forces if Gaddafi supporting civilians were to be targeted.
    A simple “Yes” would suffice if these guys were really interested in protecting civilians, but is that really the truth of the matter?

    And where is Davy to be seen; after showing true leadership in getting this all together, he seems to have run & distanced himself to avoid the collateral damage.
    Haven’t we had enough of these types of lies with Blair’s Iraq debacle (which is still going on – another 56 dead to add to the list, another UK intervention success story)?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12906043

  • Comment number 62.

    One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

    Our remit under the UN resolution is to protect civilians. Period.

    It has become clear that Libya is split about 50-50 between Quadaffi supporters in the West and rebels from the East. What is not clear is how much of Quadaffi's support is due to fear or bribery. One thing we must NOT do is be drawn into supporting one side or another. This is effectively a civil war, and it must be left to the people of Libya to sort out for themselves.

    Of course, this does not mean we can allow anyone ON EITHER SIDE to walk into a town and massacre the population. Far from it. This is why we are there in the first place - to protect innocent civilians.

    Quadaffi is cunning. He is a master of using propaganda and fear amongst his own people to get them to do his bidding. We must play him at his own game if we want to see him ousted from power.

    This means using all our diplomacy, political pressure and propaganda to ensure that people in the West of Libya can have confidence that Quadaffi is about to be history, so they can rise up against him (if they want) and say enough is enough.

    He must not be allowed to stay in power in any way, shape or form. Can you imagine a divided Libya with Quadaffi running Western Libya? We could expect many more Lockerbies, not to mention regular incursions into Eastern Libya by his henchmen to eliminate rebel leaders.

    This is not an option.

    Neither (unfortunately) is arming the rebels.

    So why spend millions of pounds on missiles and planes? Let's beat Quadaffi at his own game and offer the population some of that money in return for getting rid of their murderous leader. Dead or Alive.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    "You need to actually read what I post rather than just lazy stereotyping."

    Thats rich!!! Good afternoon, Mr Kettle!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    "46 sagamix

    " Being me exposing the 'demo v boat race' comparison for the fatuous nonsense it is. ""

    I can see why you have to have that opinion as if you held a 'Sagaday' rally for all who supported your views, you'd have to pretend it meant nothing when no-one turned up.

    For the rest of us, though, attendence is a pretty good gauge for how important an event is. The country as a whole is NOT up in arms about the cuts because we all know they have to be made.

  • Comment number 66.

    58. At 13:06pm on 30th Mar 2011, Hotshot1986 wrote:

    
"We need to leave them to it, they need to fight this one on their own, they need the backing of the Libyan army and take their country by themselves, this may not happen now but when it does it will be legitimate, hard-fought and worth dying for.

 Sorry to go on, v. passionate about this."

    ----------

    ^ No need to apologise! Plenty of people on here - of all political persuasions - share your view.

  • Comment number 67.

    No

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    Legal or not, the US and its allies have to do all they can to make sure Gaddafi loses because the alternative is unthinkable. Covert arming of the rebels would seem to be the best option. Of course, it wouldn't stay covert for long but at least the awkward question of legality would be kicked into touch for a while. It is too late to pretend that the West has remained impartial in the conflict, so we might as well do what we can to make sure the good guys* win. I think Hague is right to be Vague. Why tie his own hands? Keep you options open, be prepared to fight dirty, and let future commentators pore over the legal niceties.

    * tbc

  • Comment number 70.

    63. At 13:34pm on 30th Mar 2011, AndyC555 wrote:
    56 "That would give labour a majority of 46 seats"

    Excellent news for Labour, if there's an election today. Is one planned?
    Does anyone else have any 'fantasy results' for what would have happened if there's been an election on a particular day?
    =======================================

    Excellent news for all of us if the liberal rank and file look at those figures and start thinking about whether it is time to dump clegg. If they want to rehabilitate themselves in time for an election, they will need to start early.

    Excellent news for all us faced with a barage of nonsense about popular support for tory policies - tory support is so weak that they are being beaten by a party with no policies which only just got turfed out of office.

  • Comment number 71.

    When the Mujaheddin were fighting the Russians,they were armed by the US.The freedom fighters then morphed into the Taliban who gave a home to Al Queada while they plotted the destruction of the US.

    We are in a similar position in Libya,not knowing who we are arming and the forces they represent if they became the government.The Council of Transition whose delegates were in London yesterday ,are described by the "Financial Times" as chaotic and disorganized.Surely not the same people praised to the sky by Mr.Hague as the flower of Arab democracy!

    What are our interests in fighting Mr.Quaddafi? We know he`s a tyrant but so are the rest of them, busily shooting down their own people while we carry out a token humanitarian mission in Libya.

    Of course its a nonsense and a distraction.The day before yesterday, as Rebel forces raced west armed to the teeth, the TV announcer said without a trace of irony,Nato planes are just ahead of the columnn protecting the civilian population!

    Not only have we taken sides in a civil war, but made ourselves responsible for the outcome.The feeling in the government is so strong that Quaddafi must go,it excludes other solutions.If it was genuinely up the Libyans,large numbers would choose Mr.Quaddafi.This is what gives him the confidence to arm them in large numbers against the rebels.Like Iraq,there are ethnic,tribal,regional and cultural differences we have ignored before taking up arms on behalf of one side.

  • Comment number 72.

    SP @ heinz

    "With the number of different nom-de-plumes you're using on here these days, you're well on the way to a having a full boat crew on your own. It used to be amusing, but using different names to support your own posts really is sad beyond words."

    ?

    Pickled, I use only one name on here. Have only ever used one name. Utterly mystified (and not a little taken aback!) by your comment. Don't know whether (i) you realise it's nonsense but feel like casting aspersions in my direction because you can't seem to cast anything else (v poor show if so), or (ii) you actually and truly think I am messing about with multiple IDs (in which case I'm a bit worried about you). Either way, it's very very sub-optimal and I recommend that you, if at all possible, shape up.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    I've just made a list of the reasons why this all seems such a shambles.

    The list included such things as the hypocrisy of supporting of these 'rebels' as opposed to not supporting others; the lack of any kind of exit stategy; the seeming ignorance of whom we are actually supporting; indecision as to how much to support them; the lack of agreement and even understanding among the alliance; our lack of resources; the fact that our government can afford to fight a war and at the same time preaches restraint...

    I know, I know... that's nothing new to any of you. I ended up with a list of 25 reasons not to do this, without even having to stop to think. It makes me wonder how many I'd have come up with if I actually had some inside knowledge.

    Presumably they're talking to Gaddafi and hoping that he clears off to Venezuela or that there's some sort of coup and that a temporary border can be agreed. At least I hope that's what they're doing.

    What if that doesn't happen? Are they idiots? This seems completely crazy.

  • Comment number 75.

    59. At 13:10pm on 30th Mar 2011, sweetAnybody wrote:
    Jon, surely not even you are stupid enough to think the tories started a so called war in Libya?
    =================

    The tories have got us into a war.

    Even fubar understands that the 'do nothing' option is available to the disunited kingdom.

  • Comment number 76.

    62. James wrote:

    This means using all our diplomacy, political pressure and propaganda to ensure that people in the West of Libya can have confidence that Quadaffi is about to be history, so they can rise up against him (if they want) and say enough is enough.

    He must not be allowed to stay in power in any way, shape or form. Can you imagine a divided Libya with Quadaffi running Western Libya? We could expect many more Lockerbies, not to mention regular incursions into Eastern Libya by his henchmen to eliminate rebel leaders.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    “If they want” hey James?
    But you then go on to say that Gaddafi must not be allowed to stay in power in any shape or form.
    So you are in favour of these people deciding their own fate as long as they get rid of Gaddafi?

    Great ConDem type spin Mate; Look’s like it’s a Regime change then.
    I’m beginning to wonder if Blair's behind this whole thing on the quiet.

    PS: Is this the same Gaddafi that renounced terrorism & his nuclear ambitions in return for “coming out of the cold” & the UK Gov’ letting a poorly mass murderer out of jail?
    I think we should be told.

  • Comment number 77.

    Andy @65

    Another indicator, a poll on the day of the march itself, is referenced below - again it seems to show that there is not much support against the cuts, but as someone above said - it's perception that counts - hence why Saga is keen to make out different.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/dominic-lawson/dominic-lawson-its-a-pity-the-majority-remain-silent-2255793.html

  • Comment number 78.

    arm the rebels no. what is needed is an.imediate cease fire and another meeting
    like the one in london to include the arab league and gaddafi and co.albeit through the internet .the days of fighting to the last man should be well a and truly over.
    even in medieval times disputes were sometimes sorted out by jousting matches.
    with the dawning of the millinium i would have thought to have seen an end to war
    involving 1st and second world? contries. shows psycology is well behind technolagy.

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    52. At 12:45pm on 30th Mar 2011, jon112dk wrote:

    "You need to actually read what I post rather than just lazy stereotyping."

    To be honest, most people realise the second you refer to the PM as 'Lord Snooty' or mention Bulligdon, that you've set the level of debate you intend to have. As well as the depth of thought you'll be applying.

    "If snooty and co. stated a coherent plan to topple gadaffi and facilitate a democratic government in a short time span I would support them."

    No you wouldn't. You'd moan about the money, and how it's Iraq all over again. If the coalition suddenly switched to exactly the policies you wanted, you'd STILL find something to criticise. That's the kind of person everyone knows you are.

    "Likewise if they had made a firm policy decision that this is nothing to do with a minor country like the disunited kingdom and kept their noses out of it."

    No, again, it doesn't matter how firm a policy is, you're against it. Everyone knows it, no one believes you.

    "What I don't support is this ridiculous situation where they have started a war without any idea of what to do next."

    As someone else mentioned, we didn't start this war, and only a sado-masochistic person who is desperate to believe he lives in a terrible country would confuse the situation like that.

    Seeing as you like polls so much, why don't we conduct one right now, on how many people think you're full of the proverbial? No doubt you'd argue that it's irrelevant though. As are all your polls, because the one that counted happened last year.

  • Comment number 81.

    "attendence is a pretty good gauge for how important an event is" - andy @ 65

    Quite. And Saturday's demo was well attended. So there you go.

    Next?

  • Comment number 82.

    Dear readers,true politics is lies.who says the rebels will spare the civillians on Gadafi side. Do their missiles distinguish btn soldiers and civillians? or for them it is ok to kill civillians. Please the so called west3 (Britain,France, Us) save us all this we are seeing. There was once a "45" minutes issue that turned out to be lies. Now it is the "protecting civillians" This is also wrong. Tomhawk missiles,fighter planes protect no civillians but kills them and destroys the infra structure.
    The hospital that was hit as shown on RTis not a plane. Gadafi has been bad for so long but the west embraced him thus betraying the people that you claim to support now. What double standards!!!!
    By the way can we know how many civillians have died due to coalition bombing?

  • Comment number 83.

    It is quite clear that Cameron wanted Gadaffi out from day one. Regime change is still the principle aim of the British Government, whichever way they dress it up. Because of the current action, Libya will end up partitioned between the pro-Gadaffi west, and the rebel-held east. We can obviously not barge into Tripoli with all guns blazing. Civilians of equal merit live there as well, and we are there to protect them. Would partition be such a bad thing?

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    "God, he'd have to go and lie down in a darkened room for a few hours before answering that question!" - fubar @ 53

    Trying to tempt me off-piste, I sense. Okay I guess no harm (Libya seems done – we’re not going to arm the rebels because it isn’t 1973) ... so, right, the World Tax Authority, the WTA.

    Point here is it brings an end to shifting income/wealth around the globe purely in order to minimise tax bills. We all (people, companies, whatever) pay income and capital taxes to the WTA, based on our total wherewithal. WTA collects and then has the job of spending the money. Well not spending it, to be 100% accurate, but allocating it out to the various countries. It’s still the tax & spend model we know and love, and which we know works, but it’s on an intra-planetary (and pan-nation) basis.

    So much going for it, this has, not least the sheer excitement of when each country finds out exactly how much the WTA is giving it to spend for the next year. For me, this aspect is a bigger plus even than that it will substantially reduce tax dodging.

    I mean, our Budget Day is already quite momentous, isn’t it? Witness how we all got so stirred up by it last week. Well just imagine how much more thrilling this will be – WTA Allocation Day – ‘WAD’. So called because this is when we get it, get ours. I see WAD being on the same day every year, the first Monday in October (a time when we all need a lift), and it will be a public holiday. Everyone will gather around big screens erected in suitable places (rather like with the World Cup) and the countdown to the two pm announcement will be accompanied by quite nerve-tingling tension. 10 – 9 – 8 .... hearts pumping ... how much will Britain have to spend on world class public services free at the point of delivery THIS year? ... 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 ... will it be more or less than last year’s Euro 1,725b? ... 3 – 2 – 1 ... and here it is! It flashes up on the screen: ‘And the UK’s 2025 WAD allocation is Euro £1,950 billions’. Voiceover from Gary Barlow (who's still quite famous in 2025).

    The crowds go absolutely mad – it’s a thumping increase!

    Tax & Spend. First bit done, now the part that's even more fun.

  • Comment number 87.

    The UN Mandate is becoming an increasingly worthless bit of paper, in that the loose wording is being abused by the USA and the UK. If the rebels are supplied with weapons and "Civilians" on Gaddifi's side are killed , the UN will be totally discredited and shown to be, what it is - Unfit for purpose. Just a paper machine for legitimising western aggression.

  • Comment number 88.

    afternoon, "is it legal to arm the libyan rebels"
    mmm who armed the other side in the first place?
    ach well don't look a gift horse in the mouth lets arm the rebels and then see if gaddafi needs any more while we are at it. sales is sales, profit is profit. someone else will do it if we don't and all that
    Sid

  • Comment number 89.

    I'm in the 'let's not arm the rebels' camp.

    I think the significance of events across the Middle East has been overshadowed a little bit by the specifics that have demanded our attention.

    What we're witnessing could be a civil war in the Islamic world that may well go down as significant a period in human history as the European Enlightenment. Regimes across a region dominated by religious adherence and tension are rebelling against an ancient culture struggling to keep power over them through oppression, often of the violent kind.

    The fact that these uprisings have spread from country to country really reveals the depth of resentment felt by the general populations of those nations towards a highly concentrated power system, and they are now starting to demand democratic rights.

    As they are slowly, and hopefully organically, exposed to democracy and participation in their governing process, the way may be paved for development of all kinds. Greater variety of opinions, discussion rather than dictation, freedom of speech, investigation - things suppressed to a great extent before now because it has been in the interests of the leaders to do so.

    If this is the case - and it is my prediction - then we need to embrace the events whilst not losing sight of what we consider to be right, and be very careful about how we are being perceived across possibly the newest democracies being formed before our eyes on such a large scale, in a relatively short period of time. Arming people and sending ground troops demonstrates only a willingness to influence other sovereign nations, whilst destroying Gaddafi's advantage of an airforce and heavy tanks continues to confer the rightful responsibility on the people of Libya (and other nations).

    To do the job for them takes away the sense that they are controlling events in their own country, and so undermines the point of the uprisings, and our own position with these newly formed fledgling democracies.

    I am not in any way suggesting that within a month of Gaddafi being deposed (however that may occur) that Libya will have a strong and stable democracy, and that all its troubles will have been solved - far from it. But what I am suggesting is that we may be witness to a great turning point in the history of Asian civilisation, similar in effect to that of the Enlightenment in Europe.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    It might just be strictly legal under Res 1973, if that does indeed trump Res 1970, but does that make it right? A case for covert ops perhaps? Useful to have Bosnia onside, they may have the odd wharehouse or two with a few old AK47s plus ammo stashed away, the insurgents' weapon of choice and untraceable at that. Or is all this heading into a very dark place?

  • Comment number 92.

    70. At 14:12pm on 30th Mar 2011, jon112dk wrote:

    "Excellent news for all us faced with a barage of nonsense about popular support for tory policies - tory support is so weak that they are being beaten by a party with no policies which only just got turfed out of office."

    What does that say about the general population of this country, if your suggestions were assumed true? It would say that the general public are morons. Very little has changed since the election in terms of policies; certainly not enough to cause a shift from Tory to Labour. So, either a large proportion of the population are idiots who didn't read a manifesto, or...well, no, that's the only conclusion.

    And it's not an unreasonable conclusion. Every single day I speak to people who don't know the difference between debt and deficit, despite 3 years of it being all over every single paper, every single day. And the TV news, even bleeding Mumsnet. Still people don't understand the general terminology.

    Add on to that Labour telling people there's an alternative - which people are just dying to believe. Except there isn't, because Labour's plans amounted to cuts deeper than Thatcher, according to Alistair Darling.

    So, the stupidity of much of the population, added to the sheer disgraceful, manipulative, opportunist Labour party - playing on the ignorance and desperation of people worried about their jobs - serves to swing polls. Desperate times and outright lies can easily convince good people to become irrational, and less objective.

    That explains the polls pretty well, I think. Of course, your side has 4 more years of bellyaching. Those who are all for the cuts won the competition last year. As growth begins to accelerate, consumer confidence will act as a catalyst and a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we're back in good shape by the next election (which the Tory party always seems to manage), chances are they'll win again. Especially since the best alternative is Ed and Ed at the moment.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    sighs @ 77

    On the contrary; I just say it was a well attended demo - one of the biggest in London in living memory. Silly to pretend otherwise, but it isn't stopping others doing so; stopping others who, for reasons best known to themselves, were keen to draw asinine comparisons with the Boat Race. That was the 'fatuous nonsense' I referred to. And that was why I had to act. Stamp four square on that.

  • Comment number 95.

    #82 airbus390

    According to Hague today, zero civilians have been killed as a result of coalition action which, if true, is an achievement to be praised. If true.

    #78 rouser

    I'm beginning to wonder exactly what the Arab League's involvement should be in all this. They seem to me to be the equivalent of the EU. What was the involvement of the EU in the Bosnian war?

  • Comment number 96.

    "81. At 14:28pm on 30th Mar 2011, sagamix wrote:
    "attendence is a pretty good gauge for how important an event is" - andy @ 65

    Quite. And Saturday's demo was well attended. So there you go.

    Next?"

    Less well attended than the boat race. Which shows that more people were worried about the outcome of a boat race than were worried about the cuts.

    There, as you say, you go.

    Next? Well I could point out the glaring idiocy of thinking a uniform corporate or individual tax regime could be set up world-wide but you've been made to look silly enough for one day so we can leave it for another time.

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    16. At 10:29am on 30th Mar 2011, TurnipCruncher wrote:

    "...Considering Gadaffi armed the terrorist IRA to attack Britain, I think we are quite within our legal rights to arm the Libyan rebels against him, shoot down his airliners, and murder his police officers from the windows of our embassy in Tripoli..."

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Well by that logic the inhabitants of Cork would be entitled to come to the UK, round up all the inhabitants of, Watford, say, and put every last one of them to the sword.



  • Comment number 99.

    "No Robin, Labour was in no way associated with the disruption in Oxford Street. That was a demonstration against tax evaders and avoiders who cost this country many billions of pounds each year."

    How much tax did YOU contribute to the UK exchequer, Mike? I think rather less than Topshop or even Philip Green personally.

    As you say, though, Labour wouldn't want to associate themselves with that siort of demonstration, after all they set up the tax system that enabled all that avoiding to take place.

  • Comment number 100.

    75. At 14:19pm on 30th Mar 2011, jon112dk wrote:
    59. At 13:10pm on 30th Mar 2011, sweetAnybody wrote:
    Jon, surely not even you are stupid enough to think the tories started a so called war in Libya?
    =================

    The tories have got us into a war.

    Even fubar understands that the 'do nothing' option is available to the disunited kingdom.

    =======================

    I don't dispute the 'do nothing' option and like many think we may be better keeping our noses out of it, but calling it a war at this point is not only pathetic, its untrue.

 

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