RSS
Assault on Libya: Whose side are the Arabs on?
The Arab League urged the West, including France's Nicolas Sarkozy, to intervene in Libya. Now they may be having second thoughts
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is welcomed Saturday by French President Nicolas Sarkozy before a crisis summit on Libya. Since then, Moussa has reportedly waffled on the Western airstrikes.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is welcomed Saturday by French President Nicolas Sarkozy before a crisis summit on Libya. Since then, Moussa has reportedly waffled on the Western airstrikes.
Getty
T

he Arab League's call for a no-fly zone over Libya was one of the key catalysts in convincing the U.N. to authorize Western military intervention. But since the U.S., Britain, and France started bombing Libyan targets to enforce the no-fly zone, the reaction from the Arab world has become more nuanced. Arab League chief Amr Moussa criticized the bombing, then backed off a bit; the United Arab Emirates rejected expectations that it will lend military aid to the effort; and Syria is outright hostile to the airstrikes. So, whose side are the Arabs on in this war?

With allies like these, who needs enemies? Sadly, it is "utterly predictable" that Arab leaders are having second thoughts now that the bombs are dropping, says Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic. Anyone who expected them to "stand with the West when it was uncomfortable to stand with the West" is delusional. And that's especially true of the cowardly Arab League and Amr Moussa, nobody's idea of a good ally.
"Amr Moussa, the Arab League's utterly predictable leader"

Wait, most Arabs are united against Gadhafi: Arab leaders "were rightly lauded for their resolve and unity" when they called for the no-fly zone, says Abu Dhabi's The National in an editorial. And crucially, that unity is holding. Gadhafi is trying his best to pit Mideast against West, but he's badly "misjudged the mood on the Arab street." In fact, "rarely has an attack in the region by an international coalition received such backing from Arab regimes and, just as importantly, from their people."
"Resolve needed as air forces protect Libyans"

It's complicated: Moussa's "flip-flopping" is pretty representative of Arab opinion, says Marc Lynch in Foreign Policy. Bombing Libya has "triggered anger among a significant portion of the Arab public," understandably suspicious of Western intervention. But the newly empowered Arab street also sees Libya as a "litmus test for the future of the Arab revolution," and not acting "would have damned Obama" in their eyes.
"Libya in its Arab context"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week