Libya and Iraq: Contrasting Ways of Conflict Resolution

It all occurred within 48 hours; definite movement towards a US-Libya
détente and the extreme downturn on the Iraqi security situation. While the
tragedy has to be condemned is there something else , something more
fundamental that the deteriorating Iraq situation signals ? Have there been
contrasting ways in which the US has dealt with the Libyan and the Iraqi
situation; essentially the Qaddafi and the Saddam factors?

Over Libya the cloud lifted. United States and Qaddafi were to openly co-exist. A non-bloody and sober end to the nearly two decade old conflict was imminent. Top guns of the United States mandated to murder Qaddafi in 1986 did not succeed. Two years later Qaddafi?s violent ways facilitated terrorist killings. 256 innocent passengers of Pan Am 103 were murdered over Lockerbie. For over a decade mutual revulsion flowed from the hate and anger that the two governments harbored for each other.

Recognizing the limits of what military force and hate can achieve a three
way negotiations began between the US,UK and Libya. In 1999 the UN sanctions were suspended. Libya agreed to cooperate by handing two Libyan suspects for trial in Scottish courts of Netherlands. Finally payment of a compensation package, a letter from the Libyan government to the UNSC President nearly accepting responsibility for Lockerbie and reiterating its commitment to the global anti-terrorist campaign, is leading the two actively hostile
adversaries towards détente.

Libya and the US encouraged by the UK and the UN opted for a process of
protracted negotiations. These negotiations were marked by mutual
accommodation. They abandoned indiscriminate force as a dispute settler and moved away from the victor-vanquished paradigm of conflict resolution. Washington will support the UK-Bulgarian resolution tabled on August 18 calling for the lifting of UN sanctions targeting Libya.

In contrast to this ‘upbeat’ Libyan situation has been the continuing
tragedy of Iraq. On August 19 death rained at the Baghdad UN office. Twenty
including UN’s top man Sergio Viera de Mello the "outstanding servant of
humanity’," were killed. Hundred have been wounded. UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan hopes those who "perpetrated this outrage will be brought to
justice." He correctly said "Nothing can excuse this act of unprovoked and
murderous violence against men and women who went to Iraq for one purpose
only : to help the Iraqi people recover their independence and sovereignty
and to rebuild their country as fast as possible , under their leaders of
their own choosing." Syria, currently holding the UNSC presidency said "such terrorist incidents cannot break the will of the international community."

The UN will continue its presence in Iraq. Only under greater fear. Security concerns will undoubtedly effect UN presence, it will slow down its
work. Some EU staff has already been moved out of Baghdad after the
terrorist attack.

The American forces were responsible for ‘delivering’ security to the Canal
Hotel which housed the UN office. Tall order in a foreign occupied land
where the deadly combine of anger , hate, resistance and light weapons is on
the increase. The bloody sabotage was caused by a bomb-loaded vehicle across
from the Canal Hotel . Two weeks ago 19 innocent lives lost in another terrorist attack. Last week sabotage has debilitated Iraq’s northern export
pipeline and Baghdad?s central water system. This forebodes more death,
destruction and debilitation for the Iraqis and for those forces who first invaded and now occupy Iraq in their ‘line of duty.’

The Commander in Chief of these occupying forces has called the attackers the "enemies of the civilized world." Bush who faces increasing criticism for the continuing death of US soldiers now confronted with unconventional warfare in Iraq was as usual tough in words. "Every sign of progress in Iraq adds to the desperation of the terrorists and the remnants of Saddam’s brutal regime. The civilized world will not be intimidated. And these
killers will not determine the future of Iraq," Bush warned.

The American administrator Paul Bremer has already expanded the zone for
blame beyond Iraq. He has indicated that "foreigners coming fro Syria" may
have been behind these blasts. Maybe the US will argue that al-Qaeda has a
Syrian presence too, that covertly the Syrians are supporting these terrorist activities or are supporting "Saddam’s loyalists." There can be no
limits to listing suspects. Especially when the adversary is as elusive and
as dispersed as the one that US forces and tragically now the UN faces in

Iraq promises to go through extended turmoil. The desperate, divided and
decadent side of the human race will surface in a context where different
‘moralities’ have emerged. Killing is criminal , violence is condemnable and
destruction is punishable. No getting away from these basics.

But equally no getting away from how we arrived at this tragic and now
extremely difficult situation in Iraq. Peace, law and order and calm will
not come easy in Iraq. The monster of hate and anger is devouring it. It is
bound to spread its tentacles before it will recoil.

This is the inevitable cycle of causation. One that many had foretold. The
US-UK invasion of Iraq was illegal and based on wrong and untruthful
premise. A UN led process of negotiated , even if slow, process of reining
in the evil dictator Saddam was underway.. The global community should have stayed the course on that. Yet buoyed by hate for Saddam, by the arrogance of military power, by the convoluted security paradigms which spell the ‘black and white’ in the world and by a self-defeating sense of
self-righteousness the United States and the UK abandoned the route of a
negotiated settlement.

Granted that would have not been perfect and rapid; but how perfect and
rapid is this path on which Iraq is now traveling ?