The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Lions, foxes or donkeys of the desert?

I love this Photoshopped image (grabbed from Lion of the Desert?) from this week's Economist. We are entering the "Oh my god what have we signed up for?" stage of of the Libya war, after February and March's hope that Qadhafi was a low-hanging fruit and that he would fall just like Ben Ali and Mubarak did. I am still conflicted, somewhere between Anthony Cordesman (finish the job) and Helena Cobban (never should have gone in the first place). Both come, of course, from a point of view critical of liberal (or neocon) interventionism, although for different reasons. So does Steve Walt. The other question in my mind is about whether early French (followed by other Western) support for the rebels emboldened them to fight a war they couldn't win, relying on help from abroad, and now puts them in a position where they will not negotiate.

The Economist makes the case for more involvement, esp. US, and that Misurata is crucial to the rebels:

Apart from the humanitarian crisis in Misrata, the city—the country’s third largest with a population of more than 500,000 and an important port—is strategically vital. As long as it holds out, it prevents Colonel Qaddafi from imposing a de facto partition between west and east and provides encouragement to the opposition in other western towns, such as Zintan and Zawiya, and even in those parts of Tripoli, the capital, that briefly rose up in the early days of the revolution.

Tough questions all. But I love the way Sarkozy looks on this pic — like Louis de Funes.