Hugo Chávez to mediate in Libya crisis?
President Hugo Chávez has spoken to Moammar Qaddafi about creating a bloc of friendly nations—tentatively dubbed the Committee of Peace—to mediate a resolution to Libya's crisis, Venezuela's Information Minister Andres Izarra said through Twitter March 2. "We can confirm Libya's interest in accepting this proposal, as well as the Arab League's," Izarra said. "Today Venezuela presses ahead with its agenda in the Arab world and the world at large to seek peace in Libya."
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro also weighed in, saying diplomacy rather than military threats should be used to end the violence in the North African nation. Maduro criticized the US and the EU for adopting policies aimed at isolating Qaddafi and raising the possibility of providing military support to the Libyans rebels. Maduro said such policies "point at giving the empire authorization for an invasion against the Libyan people." (Middle East Online, March 3; UKPA, March 2)
Arab League rejects intervention
Meeting in Cairo on March 2, Arab League diplomats announced that the organization would oppose any form of foreign intervention in Libya and stressed the need to guarantee Libya's territorial integrity. The move was a Syrian initiative, with Damascus' Permanent Ambassador to the League, Youssef Ahmad, saying intervention would not stem from a desire to protect the Libyan people but to protect Western interests and agendas in the region.
The vote came the day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US maintains that all options, including military intervention, remain on the table "so long as the Libyan government continues to turn its guns on its own people." Western allies have also discussed imposing a no-fly zone on Libya, although Russia, China and Germany have suggested they
would oppose the move. (Jewish Policy Center, March 3)
Human Rights Council suspends Libya
The UN General Assembly voted unanimously March 1 to suspend Libya's membership in the Human Rights Council—marking the first time a country has been suspended from the Geneva-based body. Lebanon's UN Ambassador Nawaf Salam introduced the measure, saying the suspension is an exceptional, and hopefully temporary, measure. The Libyan government's "Universal Periodic Review," scheduled to be released this week in Geneva and said to offer a favorable assessment, has also been postponed by the Human Rights Council. (UN Dispatch, March 3; VOA, March 1)
Fidel fears foreign interference
In the latest installment of his weekly column, veteran Cuban leader Fidel Castro wrote of "NATO's Inevitable War" in Libya, and offered praise for the country's government, if not explicitly for Qaddafi: "Libya occupies the first spot on the Human Development Index for Africa and it has the highest life expectancy on the continent. Education and health receive special attention from the State. The cultural level of its population is without a doubt the highest." (Escambray, Cuba, March 3)