The past week of the coalition campaign in Libya has done nothing to tip the scales. NATO’s assistance had little effect, so experts say that the West may get stuck in Libya, even though it doesn’t want to.
NATO’s plan to fight a quick war in the name of democracy has failed. Colonel Gaddafi’s forces have managed to retain their positions and have carried out a number of successful operations. Fighting, or rather sporadic clashes between scattered rebel groups and well-organized army troops, is moving further eastward towards Benghazi, the main opposition stronghold. Lacking coordination, western forces accidentally struck at rebel positions near the city of Brega, killing at least 13 people. Opposition forces demanded explanation. In response, NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that rebel commanders should have warned the alliance about their movements.
Western coalition is split on Libya. The United States has suspended its participation in the operation. French air forces are currently bearing the brunt of the campaign, with British forces expected to join in shortly. In the meantime, it looks like Europe is looking for other options to resolve the conflict as it became clear that Gaddafi is not leaving of his own accord. Sergei Demidenko, an expert from the Strategic Evaluation and Analysis Institute, comments.
The West is looking into the possibility of getting out of this unpleasant situation with minimum losses and maximum dignity, the expert says. But Gaddafi will never agree to resign and to remove him and his clan from power is unlikely to be an option. Here lies the rub. In addition, rebel forces are a problem too. They are heterogeneous, with Islamists ruling the roost. What direction opposition ranks will take in their further development is unclear.
Apparently, the Libyan opposition looks to the West for assistance, asking NATO to intensify strikes at Gaddafi forces and providing the rebels with weapons. Moscow opposes the move. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russia expects explanations to this effect from NATO.
The UN Security Council should gather regularly on Libya. Having approved Resolution 1973 and a mandate to that effect, it should meet on a regular basis so that countries which are using this mandate could report about its implementation. The UN special envoy for Libya, ex Foreign Minister of Jordan Abdul Ilah Khatib, deals with the humanitarian and political aspects of the crisis and has already shared his impressions of Libya in the Security Council. It would be good to know about the position of the Arab League and the African Union on Libya.
In the meantime, Muammar Gaddafi is struggling to regain the diplomatic initiative. He has been making emotional public speeches against the West and has dispatched his envoys to Europe and a personal letter to the US leader. And even though he has received no reply, political bargaining has been set into motion. Neither Barack Obama, who plans to run for the second term, nor European leaders want another long war after Afghanistan and Iraq. No one wants a long-running conflict. Everyone seems to understand that now.