Sunday, February 15, 2015

Calls for the United Nations to Intervene in Yemen and Libya

           There have been calls by several governments for the United Nations to intervene in two Arab states where Islamists have either gained power or have created a security crisis by threatening to seize power from legitimate governments

            In Yemen, Iranian-backed Shi’ite rebels have taken control from the government.  They are also fighting with Sunni tribes and al-Qaeda.  Yemen, the poorest Arab state, is fractious, as there is a separatist movement in South Yemen, which merged with North Yemen, which sparked a civil war in the early 1990s.  There are also Communists, who had been in power in South Yemen before the fall of the Soviet Union and the union of both Yemens.

            The UN Security Council passed a resolution today demanding the Shi’ite rebels relinquish control of Yemen’s government, but the Gulf Cooperation Council is calling for UN intervention in Yemen or the organization of Arab states of the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf will act on its own, with or without UN authorization.  They are interested in thwarting any spread of Iranian revolutionary influence among Shi’ites in Arab states.  Egypt and Saudi Arabia are also reportedly making coordinated contingency plans to keep shipping lanes in the Red Sea open, while the latter has reportedly been arming Sunni tribes against the Shi’ite rebels.

            At the same time, Libya remains in civil war after the overthrow of Col. Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.  Various Islamists are fighting the government, which has fled the capital.  Some of the militant Muslim rebels are affiliated with al-Qaeda and others with the “Islamic State.”  Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have provided limited military support to the Libyan government, which retains control over some of Libya’s territory. 

           Italy is calling for UN intervention in Libya, which it would lead in its former colony across the Mediterranean, as it has been burdened by a refugee crisis from Libya, Syria and other Arab states since the Arab Spring.  The Italian Government’s own maritime refugee rescue program implemented since the Arab Spring was replaced with a European Union one to relieve Italy of the disproportionate financial responsibility of saving tens of thousands of lives, but there were recently hundreds more deaths of refugees and other incidents, including threats by human smugglers pointing guns at Italian Coast Guardsmen.  The Italians rescued over 2,000 refugees this weekend alone.  

           It is in the interests of the world, as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Mali and Nigeria, to stop the spread of Islamism, whether Sunni or Shi’ite, in Yemen and Libya.  As negotiations in Yemen and Libya have failed, the UN must act to authorize military intervention in both states to stop militant Muslims from imposing harsh Islamic rule by force on Yemenis and Libyans, undermining international anti-terrorism efforts and creating refugee crises.  

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