Qadaffi Gets Another Life Preserver

South Africa's Jacob Zuma may effectively undercut the diplomatic legitimacy of the Libyan intervention

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Amiel Ungar, | updated: 00:47

Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma


The arrival of an African peace delegation threatens to further entangle the Libyan intervention. First of all, the delegation is headed by South African President Jacob Zuma.

Anybody who has followed the South African record on peace missions, notably in Zimbabwe with Zuma's predecessor Thabo Mbeke, knows that the South African preference is for power sharing arrangements between the warring sides. This means Qaddafi stays, just as it meant that Robert Mugabe lingered on, although South Africa's debt to Qaddafi is not the equivalent of its debt to Mugabe. South Africa is generally loyal to the incumbent ruler.

 A major factor in the legitimacy of the intervention is that it presumably came at the bequest of the Arab and African leaders The Zuma mission may mean that this legitimacy is going to be on a short leash.

Another straw in the wind was the Arab League proposal for a no fly zone in Gaza. Egypt's Amru Moussa thus signified that the price for continued support may come in the form of increased pressure on Israel. This Afro-Arab fickleness will empower opponents of the intervention such as China and Russia in the UN Security Council and Turkey within NATO to increase pressure for a political solution.

Qaddafi will have to pay very little for the life preserver aside from agreeing to cease fire negotiations.  Zuma emerged beaming from his meeting to declare that the Qaddafi regime "had accepted the road map as presented by us." Now the road show moves on to Benghazi to put pressure on the insurgents to accept the roadmap. This is fine with Qaddafi as he is control of most of the country.  It will create a problem for NATO on just what intends to do with the forces that it has concentrated around Libya.

It will also create a problem in terms of the official justification for the mission --sparing human lives because as Zuma says "The brother leader delegation [meaning Qadaffi] has accepted the roadmap as presented by us. We have to give ceasefire a chance,"

After giving the ceasefire a chance it will then be time-- lots of time for "an inclusive dialogue among the Libyan parties” that ensure a solution to the political crisis. In short, Qaddafi is going nowhere.