Why should you care about what is going on in a place you have no emotional attachment to?
Libya is a country in Africa about 5,000 miles away from the United States. Most likely, you’ve never been there or even met someone from there.
The civil war that’s going on across the globe does not affect you in any way, right?
Not only does the war in Libya affect us as a country, but also as individuals. Have you noticed gas prices increasing, the extended deployment of a loved one, or even the excessive amounts of “end of the world” proclamations?
Contrary to what many people believe, the U.S. is smack dab in the middle of this “war” and isn’t getting out of it any time soon.
In a speech made from the National Defense University on March 28 (to watch scroll to the bottom of the page), President Barack Obama stated, “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.” He went on to state what the U.S. has done and is doing in Libya. The U.S.:
- evacuated its embassies
- froze $30 billion Libyan assets
- enforced an arms embargo on Libya
- sent warships into the Mediterranean Sea
- allied with other countries to enforce a no-fly zone
- authorized military action in Benghazi to counteract an anticipated massacre.
We don’t need to be afraid or start preparing for the apocalypse, but it’s important to be informed about what’s going on in Libya and our relation to it.
It all began on the evening of Feb. 15, just a few days after the fall of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.
–In the city of Benghazi, approximately 200 people, led by human rights activist Fathi Terbil, line up in front of the police headquarters and begin protesting for the “end of the regime” of long-time dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. Crowd increases to around 500 people, causing the police to break up the crowds using violence, injuring about 40.
–Protests continue in Benghazi and spread to the towns of Al-Bayda, Al-Quba, Darnah and Az Zintan. As the violence increases, pro-government rallies of Gaddafi supporters start to make their move. As a response to the protests, the Libyan government releases 110 members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, the group of radicals dedicated to overthrowing Gaddafi.
–The infamous “Day of Revolt,” which the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition had described as the day all groups, whether in Libya or not, would protest against Gaddafi. Demonstrations of revolt take place all over Libya, including Benghazi, Al Bayda, Tripoli, Zentan, Ajdabiya and Darnah. Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based Arabic news station, reports that about 14 people are killed in Benghazi alone.
–In the early morning, Gaddafi’s second son, Saif al-Islam, appears on state television to send protestors a message and warn them of a civil war. He ends the warning declaring, “We will fight to the last man and woman and bullet. We will not lose Libya.”
–Gaddafi makes two surprise speeches on state television. The first is only 20 seconds long; he attacks the news channels, saying they belong to “stray dogs.” In his second hour-long speech, Gaddafi blames the uprisings on “Islamists” and refuses to step down, declaring that he will fight and “die as a martyr” on Libyan soil. He also states that he has “not yet ordered the use of force” and that when he does, “everything will burn.”
—Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reports that about 1,000 people have been killed so far in the 1-week rebellion.
—Oil prices reach $120 a barrel, eventually leading to gas prices increases around the world.
–An interim government, the National Transitional Government, is formed by former justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil. Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton advise Gaddafi to step down and avert any more violence.
–The U.S. freezes roughly $30 billion of the Libyan government assets, the largest amount ever frozen in history.
–Several battles take place in Az Zawiyah between the rebels and pro-Gaddafi soldiers. An estimated 33 people are reported killed. That evening, the National Transitional Council declares itself to be the “sole representative of all Libya.”
–The Arab League recognizes the National Transitional Council as the government of Libya. Ali Hassan al-Jaber, the camera man of Al Jazeera, is shot dead near Benghazi. He is the first journalist to be killed in the uprising.
–U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice pushes for the Security Council to approve a no-fly zone after more than 1 million signatures were collected through Avaaz.org from supporters around to world.
— Obama addresses the nation in a speech made at the National Defense University. In case you missed it here are some of his most memorable quotes:
“Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt -– two nations that inspired the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant -– Muammar Gaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world –- including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.”
“For those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: The United States of America has done what we said we would do….To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”
“Tonight, let us give thanks for the Americans who are serving through these trying times, and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward. And let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world.”
— Planes and aircraft carriers from 28 countries, including the U.S., continue to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to keep pro-Gaddafi forces from bombing rebels and civilians. Gas has gone up 38 cents since the revolt began, averaging 3.52 a gallon. In regards to the death toll, authoritative estimates of civilian and military deaths are practically nonexistent. “The west of Libya is a black hole,” says Fred Abraham of Human Rights Watch. “We have no idea what’s going on.”
Watch Obama’s full speech on March 28 below: