Arabic press calls for no-fly zone over Libya

Pro-Gaddafi state-run paper blames ‘Zionists’ for unrest.

By OREN KESSLER
March 13, 2011 02:31
2 minute read.
Illustrative photo

Man reads Arabic newspaper in J'lem. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The dominant sentiment in the mainstream English-language press this week was in favor of imposing a no-fly zone to ground Muammar Gaddafi’s air force.

“This is a pretty easy problem, for crying out loud,” Nicholas Kristof wrote, quoting an ex-US Air Force commander, in his piece “The Case for a No-Fly Zone” in Thursday’s New York Times.

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A day earlier, in its editorial “Barack Obama’s Libya straitjacket,” The Washington Post excoriated the US administration for dithering in its response to the Libyan ruler’s crackdown.

In the Arabic-language media – rarely in line with its counterparts in the West – the tone has been overwhelmingly the same.

An article on Tuesday by Muhammad Salih al- Misfir of the London-based daily Al-Quds al-Arabi called on the international community and Arab states to impose a no-fly zone, jam the regime’s electronic communications and penalize countries providing Gaddafi with mercenaries. The paper’s editor in chief, Abdel Bari Atwan, described foreign military intervention in Libya as all but inevitable.

Jordan’s privately-owned Al-Dustur wrote that Western nations “stand against taking a definite decision to impose a no-fly zone on Libya to give the tyrant more time and enable him to nip the sweeping popular revolution in the bud... Such an exposed game which the Americans and the Europeans are playing proves that their ‘strategic decision’ is to stand by the tyrant’s regime, because any other alternative regime will not be yielding like that of Gaddafi.”

In a media round-up compiled by BBC Monitoring – a division of the UK media corporation that monitors and reports on mass media worldwide – Shakir al-Nabulsi of Qatar’s privately owned daily Al-Watan noted, “Leaving Libya to face its fate alone without external interference, blessed by the international community with all its organizations and bodies, means more of the massacres committed by Gaddafi’s regime and heavy weapons to bombard civilians.”

Iran’s Al-Vefagh – published in Arabic by the state-run news agency IRNA – opined: “All that is required at this time... is to immediately impose a no-fly zone over Libyan skies that includes both military aviation and armed helicopters, with Arab participation... NATO member states and some Arab countries should jam both the wired and wireless communications signal of the Libyan command to prevent communicating with its armed mercenaries.”

Libya’s government-run paper Al-Shams – one of just a handful of newspaper in the country, almost all state-run – predictably took a different stance. In an opinion piece titled “Calling the national conscience,” Abu-al-Ala Abd-al-Mun’im al-Zuwi wrote, “Libya, which has a distinguished strategic location, is now facing a direct imperial and Zionist attack, particularly by the USA, Britain and France; the countries of a colonialist history... the situation now requires us to resort to wisdom and conscience with a sense of national, historical, ethical and religious responsibility, and to rush to open the door of a serious and fruitful national dialogue, away from the language of bullets and bloodshed.”

On Thursday, the Al-Shams website homepage carried news of “the Leader of the Revolution” receiving young supporters from Tripoli who vowed to “defeat the conspiracy of enemies and traitors.”

Further down, the homepage featured a color piece on the Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez and an investigative piece headlined “From the River Nile to the Euphrates: Zionist plans to control Arab water.”


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