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Will Ramadan Bring a Break in Libya Hostilities?

Posted on the 01 August 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Will Ramadan bring a break in Libya hostilities, or a NATO rethink?

Ramadan flags in Damascus. Photo credit: upyernoz,

Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, began today, and as Muslims around the world prepared to fast from sunrise to sundown, commentators have asked what effect this might have on the conflict in Libya and Syria. Following the assassination of rebel military commander Abdel Fatah Younis, there has been increased uncertainty over the future of Libya, with concerns rising about possible divisions within the opposition. Meanwhile, troops loyal to President Assad continue to bombard Hama, the Syrian city at the centre of recent protests. Will Ramadan provide any respite in these conflict-riven regions?

  • Libya rethink. According to The Telegraph, the start of Ramadan will lead to a “hiatus” in the Libyan conflict – and the UK government should use this period to reconsider strategy. The Telegraph argued that the call by Sir Menzies Campbell, former Liberal Democrat leader, for a “wholesale” review of  the UK’s Libyan policy “exposes the deepening concerns within the Coalition that the Nato offensive is making little worthwhile progress.” Campbell’s comments came following the killing of Abdel Fatah Younis, the day after the UK recognised the National Transitional Council (NTC) as Libya’s sole governmental authority. The NTC insisted the assassination was carried out by a rogue faction within the rebels, while the Gaddafi regime took the opportunity to claim the opposition were not capable of ruling Libya. Over at The Guardian, Abdel Bari Atwan also suggested the time was right for a rethink, calling NATO’s intervention “disastrous”: “Ramadan could afford Nato the opportunity to cease its bombardment in recognition of this pillar of Islam and seek instead to broker a peaceful, negotiated settlement to a conflict that threatens to tear Libya apart.”
  • Conflict continues? The Syrian military launched a renewed assault on Hama on the first day of Ramadan, with no sign of respite. Writing on the BBC website, Lina Sinjab suggested that the beginning of the holy month would see increased protests and violent crackdowns in the country, rather than a period of peace: “For four months, anti-government protests have appeared to gain momentum week by week but as the holy month of Ramadan starts, the expectation is that protests will grow. Operations by security forces have also intensified,” she said. In The Daily Beast, Babak Deghanpisheh agreed that there would be an increase in protests during this period, “stretching from Tunisia to Libya, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and even Bahrain.” According to Al Jazeera, Egyptian tanks entered Tahrir Square on the first day of Ramadan to clear out protestors.

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