No Fly Zone in Libya: A Much Needed Victory
By Communications Task Force Blogger Zoya Waliany
As a member of an anti-genocide student coalition, an organization that deals almost entirely with international affairs, I rarely see the results of the work I do. After tabling for hours to get signatures on a petition to stop the use of child soldiers, I don’t get to find out the outcome of said petition the next day. Or the next year, even. Activists of this type of work—trying to stop global human rights violations, receive little to no gratification for their work. We’re not like other activists, who might volunteer at a local shelter or organize a food drive for the local food bank, and attain that immediate satisfaction of doing something good. We, instead, never know if our humanitarian efforts are beneficial, or in vain. Indeed, this is the most discouraging part of being an activist in the fight against genocide. I know that the work that my student chapter organizes is important; I know that the work STAND does is vital. At the same time, however, I never get to see tangible results of these important works. It’s enough to make me consider joining Habitat for Humanity instead!
But recently, however, we witnessed the beginning of something amazing—the foundations of a new, liberated Libya. In the past weeks, I have been anxiously refreshing the Al Jazeera English webpage awaiting news about the opposition forces in Libya and their gaining grounds in Tripoli, one of the final steps to the Revolution. It appears as though things are finally going the right way, and the Libyan people may topple the regime that has been suppressing their freedom for so long. Of course, credit is greatly due to the brave and courageous efforts of the Libyan people. This portrayal of human spirit is truly inspiring. Yet, Libyans themselves are also crediting the outside help they received from various sources, such as NATO and the United States. Ziad Majed, a columnist for Now Lebanon, a Lebanese online news source, notes that, “[Qaddafi’s fall] happened after military operations in which NATO played a decisive role… The echoes of the colonel’s fall will hasten the toppling of Qaddafi clones in other countries.”
Reading about NATO’s assistance in Libya reminds me of an action item that my chapter at UT organized last semester—encouraging students to call Secretary Clinton, asking her to pressure the implementation of a no-fly zone in Libya. A no-fly zone is a territory over an area which aircrafts are not permitted to fly, and this action is usually taken in a military context. On March 17, 2011, the UN approved a no-fly zone over Libya, and NATO took control of this operation on March 23. This no-fly zone, and the assistance of NATO and other forces, as Majed notes, played a role in the Libyan people’s recent victory.
As such, I feel as though this no-fly zone implementation was finally a manifestation of the unfaltering work of my university’s chapter, in conjunction with STAND’s members’ steadfast work nationwide. We asked students to call Secretary Clinton; we organized a petition to request the no-fly zone’s implementation; we finally see results. In some small way, we as genocide activists were able to give our support and assistance to the heroic Libyan people. And I believe this knowledge is something worth sticking around for.