This House believes Arabs, not NATO, should be dealing with Libya

Monday April 18 2011
MOTION REJECTED by 45% to 55%


This House believes Arabs, not NATO, should be dealing with Libya

Arab governments should stay out of the conflict in Libya and leave it to NATO, according to a majority vote at The Doha Debates.

In a tense, argumentative session, the mainly-Arab audience heard repeated claims that their own governments lacked both the power and commitment to protect  civilians in Libya

Aisha Aghliw, from Misrata, scene of heavy fighting between rebel and pro-Gaddafi forces, said, "all Libyans would have liked to see Arabs come to their help. Libyans were crying for help for one month and no one came. We could not have waited another month".

The motion: "This House believes Arabs, not NATO, should be dealing with Libya" was rejected by 55 percent.

Dr. Omar Ashour, head of Middle East Studies at Exeter University in the UK, who opposed the motion, won immediate applause when he said: "Libyans are paying a high price for their freedom, please let us not fail them by asking them to wait for our incompetent bureaucracies to save them".

He added that Arab governments were enemies of democracy and human rights and had shown indifference towards unrest in other parts of their region. "If you deny these basic human rights to your own people you cannot preach them to others".

Fadel Lamen, a US-based Libyan writer, also argued against the motion, saying that the humanitarian mission was beyond the Arab world.

"The Arab League is a group of Arab countries dependent on protecting the foreign policy of Arab regimes and has no teeth to enforce any military intervention," he added

Both speakers claimed Arab interference in Libya would have led to more civilian casualties.

Mohammed Ali Abdallah, Deputy Secretary General of The National Front for the Salvation of Libya, one of the country's most prominent opposition groups in exile, spoke against the motion, saying Arabs should have stepped in to fix the problem in Libya. 

"They missed the opportunity to shift the paradigm at a regional level, but the opportunity for intervention is still there" he said.

"Tunisia and Egypt should take the lead in Libya, more so after popular revolts toppled both presidents earlier this year."

His co-speaker Paul Salem, Director of the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut, acknowledged military contributions from Qatar, the UAE and Jordan but said Arab countries as well as Turkey should have taken the lead in the military coalition to protect the Libyans.

"They should have put their money where their mouth is," he said, adding there was "still time for Arab countries to participate more forcefully because there is a long road for Libya to travel". 

Watch online