July 3, 2011. Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The 53 member African Union appears to have thumbed its nose at the US and NATO. Late yesterday, the body announced they were officially and publicly choosing to ignore the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The announcement wasn’t only a blow to the West, it poses serious questions to the legitimacy of the world court. One-third of its member nations are African countries, 31 in total.
While the African Union didn’t forge an alliance or officially take Gaddafi’s side, their action poses challenges on two levels. The first is the immediate end to hostilities in Libya. The second, and a slightly more delicate issue, is the world body itself.
In a statement released by the AU yesterday, the body reinforces its first priority of a peaceful solution in Libya. It states, “These proposals are made within the context of the AU Roadmap for the Peaceful Resolution of the crisis in Libya and the Communiqué of the meeting of the High Level ad hoc committee, held in Pretoria, South Africa, on 26 June 2011, including Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s commitment to an inclusive dialogue process with the participation of the Transitional National Council (TNC) of Libya, as well as acceptance of not being part of the negotiation process.”
The statement goes on to confirm its commitment to bringing an immediate end to civilian casualties, “The objective is to bring the current crisis to an end, ensure the effective protection of the civilian population, including the provision of humanitarian support, and usher in a political process that will make it possible to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people to democracy, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights.”
The initial announcement by the African Union condemned the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Gaddafi saying it, “seriously complicates” the ongoing negotiations for a peaceful solution. The motion went on to state, “With this in mind, we recommend that the member States do not co-operate with the execution of this arrest warrant.”
Taking the stance one step further, African leaders reiterated their long-standing accusation that the world court is simply a tool of the West, specifically the US. The AU’s Jean Ping explained to reporters that the ICC is discriminatory and only persecutes African nations and African leaders. At the same time, Ping suggests, the world court ignores crimes committed by Western powers in countries like Iraq and Israel.
The African Union’s announcement to ignore the world court’s arrest warrant for Gaddafi is the Libyan leader’s third triumph in as many days.
First, Gaddafi announced that not only has the remnants of the Libyan military that is still loyal to his regime stopped the anti-government forces loyal to rebel leaders, he was ordering his forces to go on the offensive. For weeks, rebel troops and rebel militia have been attempting to break out of their eastern-held strong-holds and link up with the small contingent of coastal rebel town in the west. Gaddafi’s forces control the center and have the western rebel towns outnumbered and surrounded. Even with continuous NATO bombings, the loyalist Libyans have held their ground.
Building on that success, Gaddafi sent shutters throughout Europe when he threatened yesterday to take to war to NATO’s backyard. Addressing thousands of supporters in Tripoli, the Libyan leader announced, “If you do not stop your military actions and do not leave the Libyan people in peace, it will be a catastrophe for you. We are able to penetrate into Europe like locusts, like bees to respond to the aggressors with their own methods.”
The message, also broadcast on State TV, went on, “These people will bring the battle into Europe. And then your homes, offices and families will become the lawful targets.” With the 53 nations making up the African Union rebuffing NATO and the world court, Colonel Gaddafi may be showing some of the reasons he’s survived and held power for so many decades. -WhiteoutPress.com