NATO, anticipating Kadhafi demise, eyes Libya's future | Inquirer News

NATO, anticipating Kadhafi demise, eyes Libya’s future

/ 11:11 AM June 07, 2011

BRUSSELS–Confident that the Libyan regime’s days are numbered, NATO will ask defence ministers on Wednesday to step up contributions to deliver a knock-out punch and plan for a post-Moamer Kadhafi world.

With NATO fighting in two continents, the ministers meeting for two days of talks in Brussels will discuss the nearly three-month-old air war in Libya as well as the nearly 10-year-old ground battle in Afghanistan.

Although Kadhafi still controls much of western Libya including his Tripoli stronghold, NATO says it is only a matter of time before he goes and it has increased the pressure with daily strikes on Tripoli to hasten that day.


NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen plans to ask allies that have taken a backseat to contribute more in order to finish the job after the mission was extended by another 90 days through late September.


“I think that for the sustainability of our operation, it is essential to ensure a support for our operation that is as broad as possible,” Rasmussen said on Monday.

After 10,000 sorties and round-the-clock flights since March 31, a senior US official said he did not see “any dangers yet” of capabilities dropping off, but he acknowledged that crews are “getting tired” while the cost of bombs and maintaining aircraft are increasing.

Only eight of the alliance’s 28 members, plus non-NATO partner the United Arab Emirates, have conducted air strikes. Others take part in other aspects of the mission, but around a dozen have not contributed any assets.

France and Britain, which have carried out the bulk of the air raids, added helicopters to the arsenal at the weekend in a bid to increase the pressure on Kadhafi’s regime.

A high-ranking NATO military official said the alliance estimates that between half to 80 percent of Kadhafi’s command and control centres have been destroyed.

“We think time is on our side. The command structures have been deteriorated to the point that a decision by the Libyans to call time out could come at any time,” the military official told AFP.


But pushing for Kadhafi’s departure as a precondition for any political solution could backfire and prolong the war in Libya, the International Crisis Group think thank said, adding that priority should be on securing an immediate ceasefire and negotiations between the regime and the rebels.

“To insist that he both leave the country and face trial in the International Criminal Court is virtually to ensure that he will stay in Libya to the bitter end and go down fighting,” said Hugh Roberts, the group’s north African project director.

NATO, however, has vowed to keep pounding the Kadhafi regime as long as civilians are threatened and is already thinking about what role it will have the day after the veteran strongman falls, as it predicts he inevitably will.

US Admiral Samuel Locklear, a senior NATO commander, suggested last week that a small force might be necessary after Kadhafi leaves power. The troops, he added, could be provided by the UN, the European Union or NATO.

“We are not pursuing planning on that, we are having discussions about it because we may or (may) not have to do something quickly,” he said.

Rasmussen said NATO could help reform Libya’s defence and security sector but he did not see a “major role” for the alliance, leaving the task of guiding the Libyans in a democratic transition to the United Nations.

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“The debate won’t end this week (at the ministerial meeting), but we must start it right now because Kadhafi no longer has the wind at his back, and we must prepare for the day after,” the NATO secretary general said.

TAGS: Government, People

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