Making peace in Libya

© RIA Novosti . Andrei Stenin / Go to the mediabankMaking peace in Libya
Making peace in Libya - Sputnik International
No matter how long a war may last, it is always followed by peace. And the strange war in Libya is no exception to this rule. In fact, it appears that many of the world's major powers have been preparing to broker a peace deal from the start.

No matter how long a war may last, it is always followed by peace. And the strange war in Libya is no exception to this rule. In fact, it appears that many of the world's major powers have been preparing to broker a peace deal from the start.

Vying to keep the peace

On Monday and Tuesday, the head of the African Union, Jean Ping, will be holding talks with NATO and EU leaders. He has proposed a detailed plan for a cease-fire and a peace settlement in Libya. It will be interesting to see whether the discussion there will revolve around general issues or focus on specific measures to bring about peace in Libya.

The African Union is a major player, at least when it comes to Libya. But one gets the sense that the organization is also jockeying for position in the hopes of taking the lead in the peace effort.

There are several other peace initiatives. A group of left-wing Latin American countries, led by Cuba and Venezuela, has submitted its own plan for a cease-fire to the UN Security Council.

This group would have looked like a minor player had it not been joined by Asian countries like Indonesia and Vietnam. Moreover, there are three much more influential countries that have not signed onto the plan, but only because they currently have a seat on the UN Security Council - India, Brazil and South Africa.

The plan was formally submitted to China's representative in the Security Council, as China is the current chair. It's worth examining China's role in the international community's response to the crisis in Libya. Like Russia, China abstained from the vote on resolution 1973 that authorized a military operation against Gaddafi's regime.

On April 1, the Chinese and German foreign ministers held a meeting in Beijing. They reminded the world that both had abstained from the vote because they could see that the resolution, which is intended to protect civilians, would ultimately have the opposite effect. Both countries are calling for a cease-fire.

This begs the question: Do any countries share the position of Britain, France, Belgium and a few other states that are involved in intervention in Libya - all the more so now that the United States announced its decision to step back from the operation?

Obama's re-election and an isolated Europe

On Monday European NATO members were begging the United States to continue playing an active role in the airstrikes against Gaddafi's regime. The Americans have agreed to stay on ... for now.

But U.S. Defense secretary Robert Gates, who visited Moscow on March 21-22, has said the United States will soon step back from the mission. There were many other promises and signs that the Obama administration - or at least one faction within the administration - does not want this war. However, the majority of Russians cannot be persuaded that the United States does not need Libyan oil, or that it will withdraw from Afghanistan as promised.

There is no doubt that the United States will leave Libya and shift this military disgrace not simply onto NATO (where the U.S. is the main force) but onto the Europeans.

On Monday Obama announced his intention to run for a second term. There is no doubt that the U.S. withdrawal from Libya was timed to coincide with the start of the 2012 election campaign.

We are witnessing a rare event in which a small group of European states (you can't even call them "the West") find themselves isolated as they prosecute what amounts to a very stupid war, which cannot guarantee Gaddafi's departure. Indeed, his defeat appears unlikely.

Sino-Russian experience

Let's see which major world powers were smart enough to avoid getting involved. Recently, an excellent columnist by the name of Li Hongmei wrote a detailed analysis of why China abstained from the vote on resolution 1973. She said what some Chinese diplomats will never admit - that China has been gradually offering its partners in the Middle East an alternative to the America's highly unpopular policy in the region. As distinct from the consensus with Washington, the consensus with Beijing is not a myth but a policy that has led China's trade with Saudi Arabia alone to grow to over $40 billion a year.

If it had not been for the fact that Arab nations pushed for the resolution because of their dislike of Gaddafi, China might have vetoed it. But already on the second day of the war, the Arab League said that the aggressive bombing campaign is not what it had in mind. Now the organization is advocating peace.

China is now one of the leading voices for peace in the Libyan conflict, as is Russia. It was difficult for Russia to make the right choice but, ultimately, it did. Russia staked out the best possible position on the issue and can now take part in the peace process on a par with all the other countries involved.

The views expressed in this article are the author's and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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