Iraq must divide to survive – The Guardian

Iraq must divide to survive | Ranj Alaaldin | Guardian

Iraq has found its way back into the headlines, just as many were hoping the US withdrawal last week would keep it out. A series of explosions in Baghdad early on Thursday killed at least 57 people according to the health ministry, at a time when the government has become engulfed in crisis.

The political crisis revolves around a warrant for the arrest of vice-president Tariq al-Hashimi, issued on the basis of his alleged complicity in terrorism and the running of death squads.

Hashimi is an important representative of the Sunni-Arab community and a senior official from the Iraqiya bloc which emerged as the largest party in last year’s elections but failed to fashion a majority to govern. The warrant against him comes from a judiciary seen as largely under the influence of the ruling Shia bloc and, specifically, prime minister Nouri al-Maliki of the Islamic Dawa party. While many commentators have assumed that Maliki himself issued the warrant, there is as yet no evidence it was issued on his orders.

Whether the allegations against Hashimi have any merit is less immediately relevant than the consequences that may ensue from issuing the warrant. Many within Iraq’s current ruling elite have faced similar accusations in the past but have not faced arrest or any serious investigation.

For example, a warrant was also issued against Moqtada al-Sadr for the death of Abdul-Majid al-Khoei, a key clerical figure who was brutally killed in 2003. No further action has been taken against Sadr, however; he commands a party that has nearly 40 parliamentary seats to its name, a series of ministries under its control and, importantly, its own militia force.

The warrant against Hashimi – who has fled to Kurdistan – and relentless effort to detain him therefore makes the whole operation seem politically motivated and sectarian. It is too much of a coincidence that Hashimi is both a rival to Maliki and a Sunni.

That is why the affair threatens to take the country back to the brink: it has an agenda behind it and undermines any notion that the country’s prime minister and his Shia sectarian partners are interested in democratic governance and reconciliation with the Sunni.

It was a similar set of circumstances that prompted the post-2003 insurgency and sectarian war: uncertainty and disenfranchisement (among the Sunni) combined with age-old sectarian rivalries between the Sunni and the Shia – a case of out with the old and in with the new. Some may see the Hashimi incident, as well as the continuing arrests of allegedly Ba’athist politicians, as an extension of that sectarian war.

There is an element of “told you so” in all this. Blinded by the lure of power, Iraqiya figures like Hashimi and deputy premier Saleh al-Mutlaq (also targeted by Maliki, who is seeking a parliamentary vote of no confidence in him) opted to assume positions of power, sidelining Ayad Allawi, the head of their bloc.

But where now for Iraq? Sectarian politics, the lack of reconciliation, persisting terrorist attacks, outstanding issues related to oil and territory and a general inability to cater for the needs of the Iraqi population is evidence that the current Iraqi model is failing.

To move on and remedy its problems, Iraq needs to turn to the federalism entrenched so heavily within its constitution, one that provides for a functioning Iraq that accepts the country for what it is and allows different groups and communities to live and govern the way they want.

As the group most fiercely against federalism, the Sunnis are now starting to accept realities and embrace the concept. Three Sunni-dominated provinces have already sought to emulate the autonomy enjoyed by the Kurdistan region, which goes from strength to strength as Baghdad rots. With the move against Hashimi and Mutlaq coming at this time, those efforts may be hastened.

The attractions, particularly in the existing environment, are obvious: a powerful means of containing and competing with Baghdad and the Shia-led government, the consolidation of power in Sunni regions and, in the long term, an alliance with a potential Sunni-governed Syria which borders the very provinces in Iraq that would be part of any Sunni region in the north of the country.

As further explained by constitutional expert Professor Brendan O’Leary in his book, How to Get Out of Iraq with Integrity, self-government allows the Sunnis to control their own resources, manage their own security and determine their own ways of life.

Centralism and the concentration of power in Baghdad has been a failed exercise, despite the ample time devoted to it. Those within and beyond Iraq who oppose federalism and the disintegration of Iraq to make way for functionality and the protection of human lives should provide a viable alternative, one that is realistic and accommodates the realities on the ground.

Libya’s Tough Road Ahead – Wall Street Journal

Libya’s Tough Road Ahead | Ranj Alaaldin | Wall Sreet Journal

Now the real work begins. With Libya officially liberated and Moammar Gadhafi killed, the country starts on the messy road of political and social reconstruction. For Libya’s interim government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), the aftermath of the bloody nine-month conflict may prove as difficult and treacherous as the conflict itself.

Security is still paramount if any viable democratic system is to be built. The interim government must ensure that pro-Gadhafi remnants are prevented from mounting a sustained insurgency from the countryside.

That means organizing the new government’s military and police forces, and sooner rather than later. Armed forces still operate in Libya as independent, unaccountable fighting units. Unless they are given a proper, regimented place in the new military, there is the risk that they will become personal militias for financially powerful political players, both within the country and across in the region. These armed groups will demand their share of funding and representation, particularly those who have become radicalized over the course of the nine-month conflict. The NTC may find it difficult to meet their expectations.

The problem is compounded by the fact that the NTC army and other armed factions are divided along their support for different military commanders. It is still unclear how disparate units engage with each other and how they manage their relationships. Among the key commanders are the controversial Islamist Abdul Hakim Belhaj, head of the Tripoli military council. Mr. Belhaj’s deputy resigned two weeks ago, a potential signal of internal strife. Also important are Khalifa Hifter and Omar al-Hariri, the other main NTC commanders, who are based in Benghazi and are both vying for the job of top military chief. Other figures may yet emerge from the woodwork.

Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril announced on Wednesday that a special body will be formed to deal with the problem of independent armed groups operating in Tripoli, especially those groups who see themselves as the sole authority in the capital. Many of these groups came from the previously besieged city of Misrata and the Nafusa mountains in the western part of the country, where the rebellion was fiercest. The downfall of Sirte means that transitional leaders may be facing a problem it wishes had been resolved sooner.

Against this backdrop, the hard part now is meeting the basic demands of the country’s population of six million. They want institutions, jobs, basic services and democratic elections. They demand accountability and transparency.

But that requires reconciling political differences within the NTC and beyond. The transitional government first needs to manage the country before it can govern it: It needs structures not necessarily founded on the basis of fairness and equality, but simply on being able to placate the competing interests and political visions among the revolutionary forces.

The NTC is not without its enemies in this respect. These include the powerful Salabi brothers: Ali, an influential cleric, and Ismail, a powerful military commander. The Salabis, who receive arms and funds directly from Qatar and independently of the NTC, have already called on NTC members to resign, saying that their mandate has ended.

The toppling and killing of Gadhafi brings many new uncertainties, but at least it can be said now that Libyans have replaced the certain misery of tyranny with the uncertain progress of democratic politics. It is up to them to make it count.

The Kurdish Strategy for Iraq: divide and exploit – The Guardian

The Kurdish strategy for Iraq: divide and exploit | Ranj Alaaldin | Guardian

Keep Baghdad weak and sustain political divisions – that is the Kurdish strategy for Iraq, underpinned by an astute game of manipulation and patience.

Arab Iraq remains divided and the Baghdad coalition government is dysfunctional. Disputes over territory, natural resources and power-sharing, including the implementation of key legislation, and ongoing security problems stand in the way of enduring stability and progress.

The stable Kurdistan region, however, is moving ahead, despite being at the centre of these disputes. It garnered enough votes during the March 2010 parliamentary elections to position itself as a kingmaker, since top vote-winners Ayad Allawi and the prime minister Nouri al-Maliki struggled to form a coalition independent of the Kurds.

After nine months without leadership and amid continuing terror attacks, Arab Iraq finally got a government – but only because the Kurdistan president, Massoud Barzani – having kept everyone guessing as to which individual the Kurds were going to back – brokered an agreement that paved the way for a coalition of Iraq’s major political blocs.

Yet, that agreement never came to fruition; Allawi and Maliki failed to come to agreement over the distribution of power. Through the allocation of ministries, however, just about enough was done to appease various segments of Iraq’s political spectrum, including key Sunni-Arab politicians who contested the elections alongside Allawi but, as a result of their new-found status and prestige, refuse to heed any calls to withdraw and go into opposition.

Arab Iraq was thus given a fragile and dysfunctional government, and the Kurds facilitated this, ensuring that a government of national unity was actually a government of unlikely bedfellows driven by suspicion. The politics is still divided along sectarian lines: hostility exists between the Shia Dawa party of Maliki and powerful politicians belonging to the Sunni-Arab dominated Iraqiyah bloc, who remain wary of his grip on power and suspicious of his and other Shia blocs’ links with Iran.

That works for the Kurds. It keeps Baghdad weak and unable to move forward. It allows them to exploit tensions to further their own ambitions. For example, when Baghdad recently moved to revise an earlier version of an oil and gas law to the detriment of the Kurds, the Kurdistan regional government recalled Kurdish officials in Baghdad and, at the same time, invited Maliki’s foe, Allawi, to Erbil for emergency talks.

That response was aimed at exerting pressure on Maliki and his government, and the Kurds may be winning: the revised law is now unlikely to be approved and the Baghdad oil and gas licensing round, scheduled for January 2012, has been postponed. Similarly, while Baghdad may be adamant that the Kurds will never get oil-rich Kirkuk, the issue, unresolved, provides the Kurds with a powerful bargaining chip that allows them to push for other objectives in the meantime.

This includes objectives related to their own energy sector. Kurdistan is establishing itself as an industry champion, hosting the world’s oil and gas players at a forthcoming oil and gas conference in Erbil. For the event organisers, CWC, this is a first; their previous conferences focused on Iraq as a whole – not any more, though.

That is because the region is attracting major players, evidenced none other by former BP chief Tony Hayward’s $2.1bn deal for oil assets in the region. Around 40 foreign companies from 17 different countries are committed to investing some $10bn in the energy sector.

But does Kurdistan need Iraq? Iraq has control over pipelines that allow for oil to be exported more efficiently. Exporting oil via tanker trucks, although inefficient, is still feasible, but at some point a pipeline will be needed if Kurdistan is to become a viable exporter able to manage its huge reserves. So far, though, Kurdish energy ambitions have not been impeded by Baghdad’s control of the pipelines and its messy politics.

Baghdad also provides additional revenues, which allow for better basic services, infrastructure, education and a better equipped military – for the Kurds. In addition to their own resources and revenues – which Baghdad is unable to audit and benefit from – the KRG gets 17% of the annual Iraqi budget, worth, at the very least, almost $10bn a year.

Ultimately, it is about keeping any enemies in the making close; that is, have a foot in Baghdad, be aware of behind-the-scenes developments and have constant access to the political elite, providing an opportunity to promote regression.

Of course, the Kurds do not have to be part of Iraq and could declare independence tomorrow. There is little that Turkey and other neighbours like Iran could do, given their billions of dollars worth of trade with Kurdistan, domestic problems and the general volatility in the region, as well as the impossibility of invading and occupying Kurdistan’s cities.

However, the Kurds will not declare independence because they have a good thing going for them. It makes little sense to sacrifice this when any unilateral declaration of independence would put them “in the wrong”, perhaps land-lock them and justify counter-responses from Baghdad and regional neighbours.

Instead, they want to declare independence as part of a sustainable and regional framework, and so long as this framework gives them Kirkuk. In the meantime, the Kurds will continue to operate in the interests of the Kurds and Kurdistan, and that means exploiting Baghdad for all it has got – a price Iraq and Iraqis have to pay to keep the country intact.

The Face of Victory in Tripoli – The Wall Street Journal

The Face of Victory in Tripoli | The Wall Street Journal | Ranj Alaaldin

Yesterday will always be remembered by Libyans as the prelude to the
defeat of their tyrannical dictator. After capturing Zawiyah and
Zlitan, opposition forces made a swift and audacious entry into the
capital city of Tripoli and brought an end to Colonel Moammar
Gadhafi’s 41-year-old dictatorship. With the capture and defeat of
Gadhafi comes victory. Yet the road to success will be a rocky one as
the face of the victory will be defined by the events of the coming
months.

Whether jubilation in Libya will turn into chaos and instability will
depend on two things: the extent to which regime loyalists in Tripoli
launch a fight back and the Transitional National Council’s (TNC)
ability to govern effectively and establish democratic governance.

Since the TNC has so-far faced only pockets of resistance in Tripoli,
it seems like a bloody-showdown has been avoided. But the TNC has yet
to secure the city and the old regime still controls one-fifth of the
capital. Gadhafi has been preparing for this day since the outbreak of
hostilities—this is still his last stand.

Much will depend on whether, and to what extent, regime forces
assimilate themselves into a civilian population of 1.6 million to
recapture Tripoli. As time goes on, the objective may change from
recapturing the city to “resistance,” with the aim of undermining the
authority of the TNC and general stability.

A similar dynamic emerged in the immediate aftermath of the 2003 Iraq
war, when coalition forces faced a potent domestic insurgency
comprised of civilians and former Baath soldiers. The instability in
Iraq was attributed to a power vacuum after the army was disbanded and
the local Sunni Arab population grew marginalized. These sentiments
were compounded by the presence of foreign forces.

By contrast, the Libyan uprising has been continually driven by
Libyans. In fact, most soldiers have defected to the opposition and,
judging by the relative stability in TNC controlled territories, they
are capable of achieving sufficient stability with the support of the
local population. There is a legitimate and indigenous undercurrent to
the Libyan conflict that has carried into Tripoli.

Whether a protracted conflict against regime loyalists is avoided also
depends on the measures the TNC adopts to integrate them and existing
state apparatuses into the new and free Libya.

The TNC’s methods of incorporation will make the difference between an
environment of stable governance and one of warring splinter groups.
Unfortunately, doing so will not be easy. Gadhafi fostered a network
of patronage in the capital which secured the loyalty of certain
segments of the population. As a result, there are many political,
tribal and military circles that had—and still have—a vested interest
in his survival. It remains to be seen how the TNC will engage with
these elements and give them a stake in the future of the country.

And the integration of Gadhafi loyalists is only half of the challenge
the opposition group faces. A democratic outcome and indeed any
amnesty for regime loyalists is dependent on consensus within the TNC.
Doubts about their ability to function as a unified entity deepened
after the death of their army chief Abdel Fatah al-Younes. Although
the removal of his divisive presence helped pave the way for recent
gains, it is much easier to unite in a common cause in the face of a
common enemy. Difficulties will naturally arise when politicians,
either backed up or opposed by powerful and battle-hardened military
men, have to reconcile conflicting ideological and political
ambitions, as well as varying social and tribal affiliations.

Nevertheless, despite skepticism from many critics and regime
apologists alike (like those who called for a cease-fire), the
opposition transformed itself into an effective fighting force.
Against all odds, they are liberating a nation and overthrowing a
brutal dictatorial regime. We should, therefore, give them the benefit
of the doubt as they take on a new set of uncertainties and
challenges.

Libya’s Unraveling Opposition – The Wall Street Journal

Libya’s Unraveling Opposition | Ranj Alaaldin | The Wall Street Journal

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903341404576479730765330232.html

On Thursday events in Libya took a turn for the worse with the killing of opposition army chief Abdel Fatah Younis. Not only have the Libyan rebels lost one of their most experienced military leaders, but the murky circumstances surrounding his death now threaten to provoke a war within rebel-controlled territories—to start another Libyan war before the current one has ended.

For months the presence of competing figures at the helm of the Libyan opposition has risked creating an environment of violence and instability. The rebels’ democratic and accountability deficits have only compounded the situation.

The opposition Interim National Council (INC), which answers to no one, is comprised of an array of secularists, Islamic fundamentalists, technocrats, independents and former regime figures. Younis himself used to be a powerful interior minister under Moammar Gadhafi, until he defected in the aftermath of the February uprising. Similarly, INC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil was a justice minister under Gadhafi. The nascent council’s diverse makeup means that divisions between its various elements were inevitable—and Younis’s death may be a byproduct of them.

In the months since the Libyan revolution began, these divisions have prompted the rebels’ lackluster army to splinter, creating the potential for rival personal militias. This factionalization has only intensified as the rebels have become more efficient, organized and better-equipped with Western help. As the conflict drags on, still more underestimated or unknown elements are emerging from the woodwork.

It is in this context that we must appraise the death of General Younis. Mr. Jalil’s press conference on Saturday did little to allay concerns about the future of the Libyan opposition. Mr. Jalil revealed only that the INC had called Younis back from the eastern town of Brega to question him over “military affairs,” and that he was killed by armed gangs after he was released. Mr. Jalil failed to provide specifics on where the attack took place, how Younis’s killers were able to gain access to him and, most importantly, why exactly Younis had been summoned by the INC in the first place.

One clue may lie in Younis’s fractious relationship with Khalifa Hifter, another opposition military figure and former Gadhafi official. Mr. Hifter went into exile in the U.S. after an ill-fated military adventure in Chad in the late 1980s, and returned to Libya in March.

Younis had been locked in a power struggle with Mr. Hifter since then. Shortly after returning to Libya, the INC put Mr. Hifter in charge of its ground forces. From the start Younis and Mr. Hifter worked in an uncoordinated manner, hampering the rebels’ progress and their slow march toward Tripoli. The relationship between the two became so troublesome that the INC appointed a special watchdog to keep their rivalry at bay.

Mr. Hifter presented a formidable challenge to Younis largely because he had strong backing among the opposition’s military personnel. But Younis also had significant support within the army, meaning the opposition’s forces are now dangerously split.

All this is made worse by the fact that the INC army is not the only organized military force in Libya’s rebel-held territories. Mr. Jalil himself seemed to highlight this on Saturday when he warned armed groups to join the INC or be “crushed.” He may have simply been acknowledging the existence of these groups to bolster his claim that Younis’s death was the work of non-INC gunmen. It is, however, unlikely that an ill-equipped rag-tag gang could have penetrated the sophisticated protection force that surrounded Younis, who traveled in an armored car as part of a multi-vehicle convoy with 30 armed guards.

The controversy now building around Younis’s death could lead to a restructuring of the INC. Ahmed Shebani, head of the Democratic Party that hopes to contest elections in a post-Gadhafi Libya, tells me that “the delicate cards have to be reshuffled, primarily because Younis’s death will cause a credibility problem. The whole issue of the INC as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people is now in doubt.”

The concern for both the Libyan rebels and their western backers—who continue to grant the INC increased legitimacy and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of funds—is that forces loyal to Younis will seek revenge for his death. That risk comes not only from within military circles, but also from the rebels’ political leadership and the powerful Obeidi tribe to which Younis belonged.

There is also the possibility that opposition figures themselves will encourage further factionalism and violence as they seek to protect themselves and secure their futures. Younis’ death may be only the beginning of a new period of Libyan instability. Expect worse things to come.

Intensify Attacks in Libya – HuffingtonPost

Intensify Attacks in Libya

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ranj-alaaldin/intensify-attacks-in-liby_b_891098.html

France’s admission last week that it has been arming the Libyan opposition was met with intense criticism. The move, logical and appropriate given the inadequacy of air attacks, should be welcomed. Yet, it is still not enough. Nato must now intensify its attacks to finally defeat Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Four months after the international community convened to protect the Libyan population, Nato is still yet to utilise its military capacity to full effect. For example, the deployment of attack helicopters last month was supposed to have dramatically tilted the balance in the opposition’s favour and help them build on their progress at the frontline. Attacks, however, have hardly materialised.

It was precisely this dithering in the early stages of the uprising that allowed Gaddafi to regain lost territory from the protesters, consolidate his position and thus remain defiant to this day.

Now, suggestions are that Nato is unwilling to take that extra step. The Economist magazine, for example, says Nato powers hope “the rebels will not capture Tripoli after a headlong advance from the east”, apparently because of the “risks of retribution being inflicted on Gaddafi loyalists” in a rebel advance.

Instead, Nato seeks an implosion of the Gaddafi regime from within, so that the eventual result is a peaceful and negotiated settlement between the regime and the opposition, in the absence of Gaddafi and his sons.

That strategy is flawed for a number of reasons. Firstly, delaying the offensive toward Tripoli will allow Gaddafi to try and consolidate his position, thereby prolonging the conflict and increasing the death toll.

The strategy is also based on hope rather than logic. The only way an implosion of the Gaddafi regime might be provoked is to actually help the opposition embark upon Tripoli and put them in a position to liberate it. In other words, elements within the regime must have a reason to betray Gaddafi. In any case, and thirdly, retribution can and is likely to take place irrespective of whether certain state apparatus’ are kept intact, and there is little the outside world can do about it.

Finally, keeping traditional regime elements intact, in particular the inner circles of Gaddafi and his sons, may end up proving counter-productive. These groups generally tend to be an extension of their masters, rather than independent of them. If left intact, they can continue to undermine any transitional phase and essentially operate to create instability, create a stronghold for themselves in the country and perhaps try and force the return of Gaddafi and/or his sons – with the support of arms and funds from existing external backers.

In other words, a military push toward Tripoli should be promoted and not discouraged. If Nato wants to avoid instability and bloody retribution then it should instead aim to swiftly end the Gaddafi regime and focus efforts on the post-Gaddafi transitional period, with a particular emphasis on representation.

That means ensuring both opposition and regime elements – like the army, police, as well as any key tribes, groups and individuals who are yet to side with the opposition – are given a seat at the roundtable and assured that they have a stake in the new Libya.

Iraq has taught us not to place too much emphasis on Libyan exiles, or those who constitute the core elements of the eastern-based opposition; previously underestimated or unknown elements are likely to emerge from the woodwork. As the conflict drags on, strong personalities are likely to emerge, not least from within the ever-powerful military on both sides. It is during war and conflict that new and powerful leaders are often born.

The least attention has so far been given to ways in which the people of Tripoli can rise up, so that the journey toward liberation is smoother and avoids a bloody, arguably unavoidable show-down in Tripoli once the opposition gets there.

The regime has a vast network of spies and informants, lurking on the streets and cafes of the capital. There is little that can be done to shut this down. However, what can be done is give Gaddafi more than one battle to fight.

Civil unrest in Tripoli, as a result of fuel and water shortages, combined with opposition advances in areas outside of Tripoli, will be too much to bear for the regime. The aim here is essentially to target the manpower and resources Gaddafi needs to sustain his regime and survive; in other words, shut off the supply lines and make conditions so unbearable and unmanageable that Gaddafi and his inner circle either have the choice of leaving the country or succumbing to defeat as a result of the significant drain on their resources.

It is clear now that the question should no longer be how long the military campaign will go on for but, rather, how long Gaddafi and his regime can survive. The West has another two months until its current mandate for air attacks expires. But it cannot afford to wait; Gaddafi recognises the impossibility of winning this conflict military, so he hopes Nato’s resolve for carrying on will end.

In other words, Gaddafi believes he can wait it out, divide the coalition and force the international community to settle for the prized ceasefire lifeline. He should be given no such opportunity. It is the regime that has its days numbered. Once the international community accepts and capitalises on this by expanding and intensifying its attacks, then the sooner it and the Libyan people will achieve the end-game of liberation.

Libya is not ready for a political solution – The Guardian

Libya is not ready for a political solution | Ranj Alaaldin | guardian.co.uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/27/libya-gaddafi-political-solution

Muammar Gaddafi’s foreign minister is in Tunisia today to discuss a possible settlement to the ongoing conflict in Libya. A settlement should be welcomed, but it has to begin with the departure of Gaddafi and his inner circle from Libya.

The problem is that there can be no way forward with Gaddafi still in place – which is why South African president Jacob Zuma has already failed twice to end the conflict through a political settlement. There have been similar difficulties in Yemen where Arab Gulf states have sought – and so far failed – to implement a “transition” plan that does not require President Saleh’s immediate resignation.

A recent proposal relating to Libya from the International Crisis Group suffers from the same flaw. The ICG envisages a two-phase road to peace where, firstly, peacekeeping forces are deployed so as to facilitate talks and allow for humanitarian assistance and, secondly, where a mutual declaration of a ceasefire leads to negotiations between the regime and the opposition Interim National Council (INC).

The ICG argues that preserving Gaddafi and his inner circle is necessary, to ensure there is someone with the authority to deliver a ceasefire. The problem, however, is what to do if Gaddafi proves unable or unwilling to deliver a ceasefire. The ICG’s extensive report has no suggestions for dealing with this rather likely eventuality.

The ICG seems to want to keep Gaddafi, to avoid “political chaos and collapse into a kind of warlordism”. But that would only happen if the entire political and security apparatus in the country were disbanded, as in post-2003 Iraq. There is nothing to suggest that the INC, once in power, would embark upon such a course.

Another report, from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), calls for a transitional “face-saving process” that would see Gaddafi hand power over to one of his sons, who would then hand power over to a regime insider, who would then establish an interim “unity” government with loyalist representation.

Unlike the ICG, RUSI at least maintains the option to resume hostilities and enforce resolution 1973 should the regime fail to abide by any settlement terms. However, once military operations are halted it is going to be extremely difficult to restart them.

If this “face-saving” approach were adopted, the debate would switch from a simple issue of whether Gaddafi should go to the never-ending question of whether Gaddafi has had enough time to comply. The problem is principally one of determining when and whether a brutal, authoritarian regime has failed to keep its promises. Halting overt military action by the regime is only one part of the problem.

No international peacekeeping force will be able to shut down Gaddafi’s secret police, who are likely to continue their killings and torture in prison cells and far-flung compounds that the outside world will never know about.

Nor would the international community be in a position to do much about the repression of opponents and the detention of hundreds if not thousands of Free Libya activists, journalists and human-rights defenders.

In other words, a policing role will not be feasible or sustainable. But there is something abhorrent about encouraging power-sharing between a dictator and a democratic, revolutionary force just when the former, an established force for instability that has proven it cannot be trusted, is gradually being defeated by the military, and while defections from inside the regime are continuing.

It is vitally important that any ceasefire or political settlement gives no reason for Gaddafi to believe the international resolve for defeating him is diminishing. Equally, there must be no reason for the people of Libya to fear that the vicious dictator will ever be in a position to exact revenge upon them.