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Britain Loses Support for Libya War

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TEHRAN, May 1 (ICANA) – The UK government has played a prominent role in launching an invasion against the embattled North African country since the 19 March outset of UN-sanctioned military intervention, which is now fully supervised by NATO military alliance.
Sunday, May 01, 2011 7:49:56 PM
Britain Loses Support for Libya War

However, rifts have appeared to be developing, in recent weeks within the international community and UN Security Council, with some members claiming the UK and other nations are stretching the mandate's definition.

This comes as Britain dispatched military advisers last week to help the Libyan revolutionary forces to attack Muammar Qaddafi's troops and facilities more decisively.

Britain's lower house of parliament, the House of Commons held a debate on March 21st on how to proceed with the UN Resolution against Libya, a motion which garnered 557 votes in favour of intervention, with only 13 against.

But, British parliamentarians across the political spectrum are increasingly concerned about the future of the invasion, particularly in light of a joint-statement issued by British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and US President Barak Obama on April 15, that said anything less than Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi's ouster would be “unconscionable betrayal”.

“There has been a clear defining of objectives on regime change and on taking one particular side in a civil war,” opposition Labour MP Graham Stringer, who voted for intervention, has told Foreign Secretary William Hague during a debate at the Commons.

During the same House of Commons session, Stringer's colleague Labour MP John McDonnell, who opposed intervention, decried the operation as appearing “a blood-soaked political shambles.”

“We have moved from the protection of civilians to regime change,” he said. “Promises of no boots on the ground have been undermined by the presence of advisers' boots on the ground. Now a limited intervention has moved to being a long-haul engagement.”

Moreover, Conservative MP John Baron pointed to a “fundamental shift in policy,” while calling for a recall of parliament from its three-week Easter recess to debate the changing nature of the operation. Baron's call was backed by five other MPs.

“The [21 March] debate in parliament was very much couched in terms of humanitarian aid and it has become clear since then from the joint statement of the three leaders [Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama], from the rejection of the African Union Peace Proposals and from the deployment of military advisers, that Britain, France and the US will not accept anything less than Qaddafi's removal,” Baron said.

“This is regime change and I do believe that parliament should have the right to debate and vote on this issue again”, he added.

But, such calls were dismissed by Foreign Minister William Hague.

“I do not think the government's policy has changed in any material way that requires a fresh vote in the House of Commons,” he said.

The British Stop the War Coalition held a protest outside Downing Street on April 19th, drawing a modest but enthusiastic turnout of roughly 100 people.

Protesters carried placards comparing the invasion to Iraq and Afghanistan.

John Rees, of Stop the War, says such “failures of war” encourage opposition to British intervention in Libya.

Executive director of the human rights organization War on Want, John Hilary, attended the protest.

He pointed to lessons from past foreign policy misadventures as well as a general feeling of distrust after the Iraq war to justify his opposing stance.

Britons “are not taken in by the idea that it's a humanitarian intervention,” said Hilary, who views the campaign as part of a “broader imperialist agenda” to secure oil supplies from resource-rich Libya -- a view supported by banners at the demonstration reading “hands off Libya.”

Another placard demanded the government “cut war not welfare.”

Britons oppose austerity measures enacted under the current term of Prime Minister Cameron.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics this week revealed the economy is trudging through zero (0) percent growth over the last six months.

In light of the country's harsh economic climate, many Britons have little appetite for another expensive long-term military engagement.

Meanwhile, opinion polls do suggest the British public are displeased with deepening military involvement.

A recent YouGov poll revealed those who believe the intervention has been handled “badly” rose from 21 percent on 22-23 March to 45 percent on 18-19 April, while those who think it is going “well” dropped from 55 percent to 34 percent, respectively.

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