Weeks of public protest have left pro-democracy protesters in control of virtually the entire nation of Libya, and the Gadhafi regime’s last stronghold, Tripoli, seems to be on the brink of falling as well. Though it required standing up to a brutal crackdown the protesters have prevailed, and are within a hair’s breadth of liberating the entire nation.
Which for some reason led the United Nations Security Council to announce that they are going to meet on Saturday to consider major sanctions against Libya, ostensibly because Ban Ki-moon wants “concrete action” against the crackdown.
Indeed, the crackdown has killed thousands, and it is hardly surprising the UN wants to “do something,” but the measures are coming very much after the fact, as the regime’s ability to launch additional crackdowns has very much degraded and their survival is likely to be measured in a matter of days.
The sanctions, on the other hand, could be a major thorn in the elected government of Free Libya for years after Gadhafi is just a bad memory. A quick glance at the “anti-Saddam” sanctions in Iraq reveal what could be Free Libya’s future.
Imposed in 1990, the Iraq sanctions were still virtually wholly intact through December of 2010, even though Saddam Hussein had been out of office for seven and a half years and dead for four years. Even today, some of the sanctions remain in place and were it not for the US desire to keep troops there for years after they agreed to leave, it is entirely possible the anti-Iraq sanctions could have spanned the entire US occupation.
After years of the UN shrugging off the dictatorship in Libya, it is perhaps the final example of the organization’s ineptitude that the sanctions are being considered now, when they will punish a freed country simply for having endured brutality in the course of ousting their regime.