Bombing Gaddafi's Forces - What's Next?
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi appears undeterred in the face of coalition airstrikes - refusing to surrender. In a televised address, he said his country was "ready for the fight." Gaddafi has branded the UN Security Council’s resolution on Libya as a Western attempt to get its hands on the country's oil. A coalition led by the United States, France and Britain has launched "Operation Odyssey Dawn" against Gaddafi and his forces. Their mission is to implement a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent attacks on civilians and government opponents - and Gaddafi has steeled himself for the fight. Supporters have formed a human shield around his compound in Tripoli after Gaddafi declared, and then promptly disregarded, a ceasefire.
Meanwhile, the debate on who should head the military mission in Libya has intensified. The US and Britain want to relinquish control to NATO as soon as possible, but members of the alliance have been unable to agree upon a command structure. France is resistant to allow NATO to take over. Paris favors a committee approach with the Arab League, as a way of securing regional support for the mission. Turkey has opposed any military intervention and says the coalition has already gone beyond its mandate. Germany’s decision to abstain from the Security Council vote on Libya has made it the odd man out. Berlin has firmly refused to send German troops to Libya, citing the risk of being drawn into an escalating conflict in Libya. Instead, the government said it will allow air force personnel to serve on AWACS aircraft in Afghanistan, in a bid to free up NATO forces for the Libyan mission. The German abstention puts the country unusually in the same camp as Russia, China, Brazil and India, nations that also opposed intervention. Russia's Vladimir Putin likened the military action in Libya to a "medieval crusade." The Arab League initially backed the no-fly zone - a key show of support for the coalition - but has since wavered in its support of the measure. Qatar is the only Arab nation that has contributed to the military operation.
Other countries say they remain ill-informed about the mission and worry it might entail too much risk with too little guarantee of success. The UN mandate precludes any ground invasion of Libya, or occupying force - raising the question: After the no-fly zone, what’s next? How far can NATO go? And if Gaddafi is ousted, what will happen to Libya? Could a protracted, costly war eventually result in a divided nation? Will intervention by Western forces be seen as veiled exploitation? Is the issue best left to the Arab world to resolve? One thing is clear: Europe remains divided on the Libya question. The EU has agreed to sanctions against the country, but the consensus stops there.
What do you think?: Bombing Gaddafi’s Forces - What’s Next?
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Michael Stürmer – has been the senior correspondent at the German daily "Die Welt" since 1989. Born in Kassel in 1938, Stürmer studied History, Philosophy and Languages in London, Berlin and Marburg. He is also Professor of Modern History at the University of Erlangen.
Andrew B. Denison - is a political scientist from the United States. He studied both there and in Germany, and is an expert in foreign policy and security issues. He works for the Institute for Strategic Analysis in Bonn, as a researcher and author. Denison is also director of ”Transatlantic Networks”, a research consortium based in Königswinter, Germany. His main emphasis lies on international and domestic security policy focusing particularly on Obama and the USA’s second century, the relationship between US and European economic policies, the future of NATO, Moore’s Law and future security policy.
Pascal Thibaut – the French journalist came to Berlin in 1990 and initially worked as a freelance journalist for various media organisations, including Radio Multi Kulti and Deutsche Welle. Since 1997 he has been foreign correspondent for Radio France International.