Interview with Dr. Seifi Tashan, President of the Foreign Policy Institute in Ankara, Turkey.
Sarkozy was so active because the Libyan forces were about to attack Benghazi, and if the urgent action was not taken, they would have taken Benghazi, and the whole rebellion would be finished. That is the basic reason why France attacked so quickly. Otherwise France had no qualm about Gaddafi because there is no question of oil, because there have 49 years of agreement with Gaddafi for supply of oil, France, Italy and Spain; that is another reason, because Sarkozy probably wanted to be active for coming elections, there might be also some domestic influence, but the ostensible reason for a sudden French attack was the possibility of the removal of Benghazi from the hands of the opposition. Sarkozy had recognized the revolutionary council in Benghazi as a legitimate government of Libya.
But then, Dr. Tashan, how does the international Muslim community react to these events?
I believe the whole world was in favor of the introduction of a new auspice for the Libyan aircraft, so the whole world agreed. Also the whole world agreed that the civilian population had to be protected. But the beginning of the air attacks created a doubt about the aim of the western powers, because people while they wanted Gaddafi to go out; it seems they didn’t want this to be done with the help of outside powers. So there is a mixed mind in most of the Islamic world: while they support the end game that is – Gaddafi going away, and the rebels taking over the rule in Libya and bringing democracy, they have doubts of validity of the air strikes by the coalition forces. So this perplexing is reflected in the attitudes in the Islamic world, as it does in many countries, like Russia and India as well. So there is a serious doubt in the minds of many Muslim countries and outsiders about the aim of the coalition, because they think it might create such results as in Iraq or Afghanistan, where the stability could not be reestablished yet. So there is this doubled feeling – Gaddafi should go, but how? The West says we will bomb. The Islamic world says – No. But they do not have suggestions on how Gaddafi should go. Turkish Foreign Minister says there should be a dialogue between Tripoli and Benghazi and there is no other suggestion that comes up. But Turkey is a member of NATO, Turkey will probably take part in any NATO activity that comes in, but the Turkish position in NATO is similar to that of Germany, which has also certain qualms about NATO participating in the major activity. But the problem is to estimate the end game, how it will happen. It seems that the Western action is aimed at bolstering the opposition in Benghazi and probably forcing the Gaddafi forces to surrender or detach themselves from Gaddafi. So we will see how the things will develop. Now that is the situation, the Islamic mind is mixed, and they do not have any clear practical alternative to come out.
To find out more on the issue, read or listen to our Burning Point program from March 22, 2011 in Radio section.