Syria Bloodshed Has No Libya-Style Armed Solution for Europeans (Bloomberg)
When Muammar Qaddafi’s regime turned its guns on protesters, European leaders declared that he’d lost his legitimacy to rule, imposed sanctions, and eventually sent warplanes to bomb him out of office.
The contrasting treatment reflects differences in how the two leaders exercise domestic power, and the way their countries fit into the regional patterns of politics and religion. Whereas Qaddafi was an isolated figure, Assad’s Syria has closer ties to other countries and is a fulcrum in numerous conflicts. And while Qaddafi’s family ran Libya, Assad’s regime is opaque with several centers of power.
“Different leaders, different systems, different context, different consequences,” said Ettore Greco, director of the International Affairs Institute in Rome in a telephone interview. “It’s correct for the Europeans to calibrate their response to each crisis.”
France, Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain last week summoned the Syrian ambassadors in their countries to protest the violent crackdowns. The Libyan ambassador was ordered to leave the U.K. on May 1, after crowds attacked the British Embassy in Tripoli in retaliation for the bombing raid that killed Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Arab and three of his grandchildren
Only Germany among the main European powers has called for immediate sanctions on Syria, with Britain and France threatening that they may follow if the violence persists. None of them have questioned the legitimacy of Assad’s rule.
The nationwide death toll since mid-March is more than 550, Syria’s National Organization for Human Rights says.