Watching Oana Lungescu on the BBC’s Newsnight last night, I was grimly amused by a slip of the tongue from NATO’s spokesperson. Colonel Gaddafi, she proclaimed, was now “part of Libya’s blood-spattered future, I mean past.”
An unfortunate slip, which I will forebear from calling “Freudian”. Still, it does raise the question – is Nato close to saying “mission accomplished” in Libya; or is western involvement only just beginning? Read more
It was six months ago to this day that Muammer Gaddafi delivered his defiant rant against a popular rebellion, vowing to hunt down his opponents in every corner, inch by inch and, famously, “zenga (alleyway) by zenga.”
So hysterical was his outburst that it inspired a “zenga zenga” auto-tune that became all the rage in the liberated east of Libya, even though it was produced by an Israeli artist.
In the end, however, it was the fractious, rag-tag army of revolutionaries he had promised to pursue who swept, from zenga to zenga, into the leader’s stronghold of Tripoli, in a lightening journey that is drawing the curtain on his 42 year rule. Read more
Norway, Gaddafi, and high speed trains in China
In this week’s podcast: Terror in Norway: a lone attack or a signal that the far right is rising? Libya – what next for Gaddafi? And, China’s ambitions for high speed rail are dealt a blow. Read more
The idea that Colonel Gaddafi might go into “internal exile” in Libya sounds bizarre and unworkable. But I’m afraid it really is doing the rounds. And I gather it has actually been offered to Gaddafi as an option, by intermediaries, although so far he shows little sign of biting. Read more
In this week’s podcast: the essential relationship between the US and the UK; Spain on the edge of a sovereign debt crisis; stalemate in Libya – what next for the Arab spring; and, we look to the future for Japan’s energy policy post Fukushima Read more
In this week’s podcast: The threat to Yemen’s president; refugees and the Libyan crisis; and, shutting down the government in Washington Read more
The British military are in action in the skies above Libya. But today has also brought a couple of unwelcome examples of post-imperial overstretch.
First, came the story that the Ministry of Defence are trying to sell the Ark Royal, Britain’s aircraft carrier, using an online auction. Selling an unwanted parrot on E-Bay is one thing – but flogging off old warships on the internet seems a trifle undignified. Also, possibly, unwise – given that the coalition government seems to have developed a taste for conflict. The building of new aircraft carriers has been commissioned. But the next one will not come into service until 2020, which seems rather a long time, given the pace of current events. Read more
The war in Libya is about a lot more than Muammer Gaddafi. Its outcome will reverberate around the Middle East and will affect international politics for decades. A vital principle is at stake.
As the Libyan rebels race along the coast towards Tripoli, foreign ministers from 35 nations are gathering in London to discuss what to do next. At least, I think that’s what they are doing. Talking to participants in the London conference, it isn’t entirely clear what the agenda is. Formally, they are establishing a “contact group” of 35 nations that can monitor and discuss the Libyan conflict. Informally, it seems to me there are several other goals. Read more
There has been a certain amount of sniggering about the fact that it was Obama’s female advisers who were most prominent in pressing for military intervention in Libya, while the men hung back. Amongst the interventionists were the evocatively-named pair of Power and Slaughter – that is Samantha Power on the National Security Council and Anne-Marie Slaughter, who recently stepped down as head of the Policy Planning staff at the State Department and tweeted effectively from her new perch at Princeton. And then there was Susan Rice, the US ambassador at the UN and, finally (and decisively), Hillary Clinton. Read more
As events unfold in Libya and across the wider region, the FT is running live coverage on Gideon Rachman’s blog. This post will update automatically. Read more
The argument over whether to fight in Libya had many aspects to it – ideology, national interest, diplomacy, military calculation. But the most important divide in the western world was temperamental. The Libyan debate pitted the hotheads against the ditherers. The leaders of the hotheads are Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, and David Cameron, the prime minister of Britain. The ditherer-in-chief is Barack Obama, the US president, backed up by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
As events unfold in Libya, the FT will be running live coverage on Gideon Rachman’s blog. This post will update every few minutes, although it may take longer on mobile devices. Read more
A tank being struck by a missileAs events unfold in Libya, the FT will be running live coverage on Gideon Rachman’s blog. Read more
As events unfold in Libya, the FT will be running live coverage on Gideon Rachman’s blog.
By Kiran Stacey in London and Anora Mahmudova in New York. All times are GMT, Libya is 2 hours ahead.
For the latest coverage, please go to our March 20th live blog.
23.40 Via Reuters: Libya has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council after it was bombarded by a coalition of Western states, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya reported without giving a source or details about the purpose of such a meeting. Read more
Mure Dickie reports from Tokyo on the devastating earthquake. In the studio, James Blitz examines the options for intervention in Libya, and Richard Milne looks at eurozone debt – are defaults on the cards? We also hear from Jamil Anderlini in Beijing on the Dalai Lama retiring from politics. Read more
There is a horrible sense that the military tide is turning in Colonel Gaddafi’s favour. So the West is faced with the prospect of watching an uprising that we have cheered on and encouraged, slowly crushed before our eyes. There is a nasty sense of deja vu. Isn’t this what happened in Iraq in 1991 – when the Shia in the South were encouraged to rise up against Saddam, and then slaughtered, while the West looked on? A couple of days ago, I heard a former French foreign minister comparing events in Libya to Hungary in 1956. “We encourage them to revolt. Then we do nothing when they are killed,” he said. His solution was a “no-fly-zone” Read more
If you want to understand 19th-century Russia would you do better to read a history book, or to read War and Peace? The history would give you the facts. But the Tolstoy might provide a more profound understanding.
“Never again” is the phrase that is always uttered after an international atrocity. It is what is said every time there is an event to commemorate the Holocaust. It was what was said after the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and after the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. And yet the Libyan regime is killing its people in the streets, without much prospect of effective international intervention to stop the bloodshed. Libya is not so much a case of “never again” as “oh no, not again”.
Whenever all pundits agree that something is “impossible”, you need to worry. In the last few days, it has been generally accepted that it is impossible for Colonel Gaddafi to cling on to power. And yet the reports coming from the journalists who have finally been allowed into Tripoli are equivocal. The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen reported last night: “Colonel Gaddafi’s men look to be in firm control of Tripoli. Checkpoints are operating at major crossroads and on arterial roads into the city. Some are run by the army, at others armed men in civilian clothes are stopping cars…Everywhere I went in Tripoli was calm except for the airport where there was chaos.” Read more