The UN supports Europe’s military action in Libya and the Mediterranean; Russia and China agree

Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice (on the left) and Felix Braz, Minister of Justice of Luxembourg holding a Press conference after the Justice and Home Affairs EU Council meeting on 8-9 October in Luxembourg. The former represents the will of the Brussels Commission and the latter holds the rotating Presidency of this Council, authentically representing the 28 EU governments. (European Council – Council of the European Union, 09/10/2015).

Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice (on the left) and Felix Braz, Minister of Justice of Luxembourg holding a Press conference after the Justice and Home Affairs EU Council meeting on 8-9 October in Luxembourg. The former represents the will of the Brussels Commission and the latter holds the rotating Presidency of this Council, authentically representing the 28 EU governments. (European Council – Council of the European Union, 09/10/2015).

Last Friday 9 October the UN Security Council and its five permanent members unanimously decided to actually trade entire nations and geographical regions between them. To this effect they authorized the European Union to employ warships in the Libyan waters to “board ships for inspection, seize and even dispose of vessels suspected of being used by migrant smugglers”. This is just the surface of it though because Russia and China wouldn’t have agreed without getting concessions from the West of equal importance elsewhere in the world.

For the time being, the US, Britain, Russia France and China (members with veto power) along with 9 non permanent Council members (without veto power, kind of observers) empowered the EU to use military force in international waters to stop the immigration river from flowing towards Europe (Venezuela abstained; the UN Security council comprises 15 members of which only five have the veto power).

EU’s plans go unhindered

However, the relevant EU’s action plan as it has been agreed by its 28 leaders contains three phases including operations in the Libyan waters, the coastal areas and the ports. For the time being, the UN authorized action in the high seas off Libya constituting the second phase of EU’s policy. In the third phase the EU plans military action on Libyan sea and soil.

It becomes clear then, that the EU naval and otherwise military action will not just try to stem the transport of immigrants from Libya to Italy. According to the so-called third phase of this EU project the Union’s military forces will carry out extended operations in Libya’s territorial waters and the coastal areas and ports with or without UN coverage. Let’s take one thing at a time.

Long term action

At the end of the last week of April this year the 28 EU leaders gathered in Brussels and decided to launch naval and otherwise large-scale military operations in the high seas off Libya, in the Libyan waters and eventually on the soil and the sea ports of their Mediterranean neighbor. They decided to use military force knowing very well that this would entail fatalities amongst the locals and the prospective refugees who gather there. At that time the EU leaders said they would ‘seek the UN blessing for all or parts of the plan’, but in reality they meant that they will go ahead anyway.

Last Friday Russia and China didn’t block the Security’s Council approval for the second phase of this scheme; God knows against what concessions. Obviously Moscow has vital interests in Syria to trade with the Westerners and Beijing wants to secure its position in the South China Sea against the Americans. On many occasions in history the great powers traded between them the fate of smaller countries and entire geographical regions. However, every time that such an appalling exchange occurs, it constitutes a stigma and an affront to humanity. This always comes as shock to the wider public opinion, that’s why the details usually come to light some decades later.

Chaos reigns

In the case of Libya, chaos reigns everywhere. There is complete lawlessness with more than 1200 armed groups fighting each other. The West recognizes a government based in a Greek merchant ship anchored outside the port of Benghazi. In view of the impossibility to change that, the EU supported by the US must have in mind to secure a safe coastal zone in order to facilitate its military and ultimately its economic goals in the country and in this wider African region. In the face of it the EU action will aim at reversing the waves of desperate people, who abandon their destroyed homelands hoping to find refuge in Europe.

The Europeans insist that in order to do that they will ‘fight’ the traffickers and sink their boats at sea and in harbor, as if it was possible to tell which vessel can be used to this effect. The first phase of the operations included intelligence gathering around the means and the ways of the human traffickers and has been going on for a few months now.

With or without the UN

The second phase which is now getting the UN blessing has officially commenced on 7 October without the UN’s Security Council having taken a decision until that date. According to an EU Council decision, the “EU Ambassadors within the Political and Security Committee agreed to start the first step of the second phase of the operation as of 7 October 2015 and approved the corresponding rules of engagement”. In short they said they will continue their military engagement without any blessing from the UN, which followed 2 days later.

The operational name of this plan is ‘EUNAVFOR Med’. Evidently the Europeans understood that this name leaves an extremely military taste, which is rather unfit for the eight o’clock news and thus renamed it “Sophia”. They chose a name with a peaceful aura which they had already given to a baby born on one of the war ships operating off Libya.

The public relations experts must have thought that if a baby is born and named Sophia in one of those war ships, their cannons would cease to be made of steel and the public opinion can believe that they are there for humanitarian reasons.

Whatever the outcome of this operation, the West seems determined to promote its positions in the wider Maghreb region (Northwest Africa) and the Middle East including Syria. It is also evident that Russia and China can accept or even cooperate if their share is right.

The problem is that the willingness and the fire power of the five UN permanent members is not enough to turn things to an arrangement of their liking. Once the devil is out of the bottle nobody can guarantee that it will not behave as devils do and thus stop triggering bombs as the last one in the Turkish capital Ankara. The more than 100 fatalities and the hundreds of injured innocent protesters cannot be incorporated in any logical plan.

Only the devil and some infernal cycles work in this way.

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