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NEWS: Canada ‘at war’ with Libya

Harper sends CF-18s to enforce no-fly zone over Libya

Harper sends CF-18s to enforce no-fly zone

The Harper government has deployed six CF-18s – and 140 pilots and support personnel – to enforce a United Nations no-fly zone against the Gadhafi government in Libya. They have arrived in the region and are expected to participate in aerial missions over Libya as early as Tuesday March 22. The HMCS Charlottetown is also present to enforce a naval blockade. France, Britain, the United States, are taking part in this military intervention, with several Arab League nations expected to join as well. More than 100 missiles were fired on Libya on Saturday.

AN ACT OF WAR: Postmedia News reports that, “As the international community launched aerial military missions against Libya on Saturday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the action amounts to an ‘act of war’ that is critical to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power before he massacres any more of his own people.” Harper said, “We should not kid ourselves. Whenever you engage in military action – essentially acts of war – these are difficult situations.”

HOUSE OF COMMONS VOTE? CBC reports that, “Harper said…that Parliament will be consulted when it resumes sitting next week. He also said the approval of Parliament will be sought if troops are to be deployed in the region for longer than three months.”

LIBERAL, NDP AND BLOC SUPPORT: “Opposition leaders, who were briefed by Harper before the announcement to deploy the CF-18s, offered support for the deployment. …NDP Leader Jack Layton said he supports the deployment but raised some ‘concerns’ with Harper and said he wants Canada’s role in any missions going forward to be made very clear. …Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe’s office said he suggested to Harper that a motion be introduced in the Commons next week to ratify the deployment. If there was a vote to extend the deployment beyond three months, the Bloc would support it, Duceppe’s office said.”

BOOTS ON THE GROUND? The Toronto Star reports, “Harper said Canada would not be drawn into a ground war if Gadhafi digs in his heels.” But, “In an interview on CBC Radio’s The House, (Canada’s foreign minister Lawrence) Cannon (said) Canada is ‘open to all options’. When asked by host Kathleen Petty if that includes ‘boots on the ground’, Cannon said if that were required to ‘protect citizens that are being literally murdered by Gadhafi, that’s what the (UN) resolution calls for.’ …Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said that (Liberal) support came with conditions. ‘I said to (Harper) that I thought it was important for Canada to deploy immediately, but I thought that any combat operations … must have parliamentary approval and so we will be looking to the government to provide parliamentary authorization as soon as possible for this mission,’ Ignatieff said Friday… ‘This is an air interdiction operation as I understand it, it is not a ground troops commitment and that principle must be maintained,’ Ignatieff said.”

CASUALTIES: Harper has also said, “These campaigns are complicated and one cannot promise perfection. One cannot promise there will not be casualties on our side, either. But obviously, all precautions will be taken to minimize our own casualties and minimize those of innocent civilians.” CTV reports, “Andy Knight, a University of Alberta professor who specializes in military analysis, says Canada is entering legitimate enemy territory and will likely suffer casualties. ‘Some of them could be shot down and then you’re going to have individual pilots taken captive or killed, so this really puts the country at war with Libya,’ he said.” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said, “The Libyan Air Force is active, we know that. So it isn’t without risk, let’s put it that way.”

COUNTRIES OPPOSED TO THE INTERVENTION: The Washington Post reports that, “Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Evo Morales of Bolivia and former Cuban president Fidel Castro condemned the intervention and suggested that Western powers were seeking to get their hands on Libya’s oil reserves rather than limit the bloodshed in the country.” Morales said, “We reject any military intervention, because that will produce more deaths. That is not a pacific solution.” AFP adds, “Morales strongly rejected foreign intervention in Libya, but also said he was against human rights violations in the country. Bolivia established diplomatic ties with Tripoli in 2008, and Morales has met several times with Gaddafi, first as a former union leader and later as president.” And the Post continues, “Russia and China, which abstained from the voting on the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing military intervention, also expressed regret that Western powers had chosen to get involved despite their advice. …Iran and its Shiite Muslim allies in the Lebanese organization Hezbollah, reflexively opposed to Western influence in the Middle East, also were forced into a somewhat equivocal position, condemning Gaddafi for his bloody tactics but opposing the Western military intervention.” The African Union has also called for an ‘immediate stop’ to the intervention.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:  In a media release, “Amnesty International has urged all parties to make the protection of civilians in Libya their top priority, after the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 paved the way for possible military action by international forces. …The resolution authorizes member states to take all necessary measures short of a foreign occupation force to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya. …’While we welcome the strong emphasis on the protection of civilians in Libya reflected in UN Security Council resolution 1973, we call on all parties to the conflict, including any external forces acting under the authority of the UN Security Council, to put the protection of civilians above any other considerations’ said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International. ‘It is critical that all Libyan and any other forces that may become involved in the conflict respect fully the laws of war’.”

THE CANADIAN PEACE ALLIANCE: Earlier this month, the Canadian Peace Alliance stated that it, “is opposed to any military intervention in Libya or in the region as a whole. If the western governments were genuine in their desire to help the people of Libya (and the region) they would not have supported the dictators and their regimes. That support for the dictators is a chief reason why the situation is so violent for the people rising up. Western military deployment to Libya is a bit like asking the arsonist to put out their own fire. …Western intervention only serves to install compliant and corrupt dictatorial regimes.”

To read more http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/03/18/pol-harper-libya.html, http://www.vancouversun.com/news/strikes+Libya+Harper/4471863/story.html, http://edmonton.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110319/EDM_libya_110319/20110319/?hub=EdmontonHome, http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/derrick/2011/03/libya-needs-solidarity-not-military-intervention and http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/956746–risks-inherent-in-helping-protect-libyans-in-conflict-harper-says.