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The Scoop
August 22, 2011

Libyan rebels approach victory, face diplomatic obstinace from South Africa

Julia Pettengill

Amid the excitement which has greeted the advance of Libyan rebels into Tripoli, the Wall Street Journal reports that some countries may not be so pleased by the rebel’s military victory: namely, South Africa.
South Africa’s preference for negotiations in place of armed resistance by the Libyan rebels have been consistent with an attitude towards its neighbours which often puts a premium on preventing external intervention over ameliorating egregious human rights abusers in the continent, as has been the case in its attitude towards the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Indeed, Gaddafi’s all-or-nothing approach belies such a belief in the efficacy of negotiations as either naive or mendacious.
South Africa has said it prefers talks which would deliver a hybrid transitional government comprised of rebel forces and members of the current regime (excluding Gaddafi), and continue to withhold their recognition of the Transitional National Council, which countries including the US and UK now recognise as the legitimate government of Libya. As a leader in Africa’s post-colonial transition towards democracy and equal rights, it is disappointing for South Africa to have failed to own up to the reality of the situation in Libya and support what looks like the final prelude to victory by the Libyan Opposition over a murderous tyrant.

Julia Pettengill

About Julia Pettengill

Julia Pettengill is author of "A Guilt Beyond Crime: The Future of Genocide Prevention in the Anglo-American Sphere", published by the Henry Jackson Society in 2009, and cited in the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission's 2010 report “Those Who Bear the Greatest Responsibility.” Pettengill holds an MA in Modern History from the University of St Andrews, and worked as a writer and researcher prior to joining HJS as a Research Fellow in May 2011.

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