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Did the Gulf swap Libya for Bahrain? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Everyone is entitled to their own views and analysis, but a problem occurs when this analysis is based on false information. One news agency has put forward an analysis saying that the Gulf countries have effectively exchanged Libya for Bahrain, in a deal with the West, and the agency used experts to support this claim. But is it true? The answer is simply no.

It was the Gulf States who first demanded a resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, and then urged the Arab League to adopt this demand. In other words, the Gulf paved the way for the Arab League’s stance, which in turn demanded the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution imposing a no-fly zone in Libyan airspace, which was subsequently enforced. How is it then possible to say that the Gulf States have traded Libya in exchange for Bahrain with the West? This is an incorrect assessment, and is based on false foundations, for the Gulf States are the ones who initiated the resolution against Libya, even before the Arab League, so how are they bartering with the West?

There is also another matter which disproves this “trade” theory. The West has directed criticism towards the Gulf for “dragging its feet” in terms of its participation in the international coalition forces, as prescribed by the UN Security Council resolution against Libya. Here, it is curious that some are trying to question the decision for the Joint Peninsula Shield Force to enter Bahrain, despite the charters and conventions that exist amongst the Gulf States, whilst today they criticize the Gulf’s non-participation in Libya, or say that the Gulf has swapped Libya for Bahrain! We would expect to find such analysis published in the Iranian media, but not in a respected international news agency.

It is important, despite what I have said above, to say here that the West is correct to criticize the Gulf for not participating in Libya, for the Gulf was supposed to participate, even if just as a symbolic force, like the Joint Peninsula Shield Force. This means that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar should provide a range of warplanes under a specific name, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council Forces, and not under the name of a particular country, for one simple reason: Egypt today is not ready to play any role, and in fact no one is able to do so other than the Gulf States.

The importance of this participation lies in the need to support the international effort in Libya, to ensure it doesn’t disintegrate. There is a heated debate in the West due to the fear that the coalition forces will appear as an aggressor against an Arab country. The West did not act until after the Arab League request, which was founded on a Gulf demand as I have said, aiming to protect the unarmed Libyans that are being suppressed by Gaddafi, with heavy weapons. The West’s concern has been reinforced by Amr Musa’s conflicting statements regarding the role of the coalition forces in Libya. Perhaps, when interpreting Musa’s statements, we should remember that he is preparing to enter the battle of Egypt’s presidential election, and for this reason Musa should consider resigning from the Arab League.

In summary, the talk about a Gulf trade-off is incorrect, yet the Gulf States must recognize the need for their participation in Libya, so as not to prolong the suffering of the Libyans, and to preserve the international contract.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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