Pentagon is to send military equipment to Libya rebels

The heated arguments over the idea of “arming the Libyan rebels” have concluded with a predictable result. The US announced a plan to send $25m worth of military equipment to the rebel opposition in eastern Libya. This proposal followed the recent Decision by Italy to join France and Britain in sending military experts to aid the rebel forces. All the recent moves of the US-UN coalition blatantly demonstrate that the West can’t wait to tangle itself into another war.

The US proposal, which is still awaiting approval from Barack Obama, is contradiction from the start. The plan is to send so called “non-lethal assistance” to the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, the de facto opposition government. The problem is this government has not been officially recognized by Washington. Meanwhile the Gaddafi government has warned that such support to the rebels would only prolong the conflict and "encourage the other side to be more defiant".

While the arguments over sending weapons to the rebels are continuing, Pentagon has come up with an idea to limit the package to vehicles, medical supplies, bullet-proof jackets, binoculars and radios. But as history has repeatedly demonstrated, this could be just a typical scenario for these American military leaders on their mission to aid the militants in the most unstable parts of the world.

The Pentagon proposal came in the wake of Italy’s decision to follow the footsteps of France and Britain and send its military advisers to Libya. According to Italy’s defense minister, there was a clear understanding that the rebels had to be trained to fight efficiently.

This opinion was shared by Liam Fox, the UK's defence secretary, who said many of the Libyan rebels "have no military experience, they have little understanding of weaponry or military tactics. The best way we can assist them is to give them some technical capabilities in how to organize themselves."

Inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the opposition has been fighting the government forces since February. Now, the rebel forces, based in Benghazi, hold much of the eastern regions of the country, while Gaddafi’s forces control Tripoli and much of the west.

NATO’s bombing campaign planned to protect the civilians from the government forces has literally failed, making the rebel leaders accuse allied commanders of their inability to manage the military actions. One of the most vivid examples of total ineffectiveness of NATO efforts was the situation in Misurata, where thousands of civilians got trapped under heavy shelling by Gaddaf’s artillery.

It remains unclear how will military advisers solve the problem that turned out to be too hard even for the NATO air force. However, Italy and France announced that each country would send 10 officers to train rebel forces.

Meanwhile the UN reported the fact of use of cluster bombs by Gaddafi’s forces. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay " one cluster bomb exploded just a few hundred metres from Misrata hospital, and other reports suggest at least two medical clinics have been hit by mortars or sniper fire," which "could amount to international crimes".

The use of forbidden munitions could become a perfect pretext for the intervention. While French government spokesman Francois Baroin reassured that France had no intention of sending a military force to Libya, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said the idea of such a deployment was "a real issue" that deserved consideration by the UN Security Council.

It is obvious that the assignment of military advisors is just a first step to the deployment of NATO forces in Libya. Both Europe and the US have left themselves no other option than to rush into another conflict. At the same time, the situation with the opposition government is far from clear. There can be no guarantees that in the case of victory, the same leaders won’t turn their weapons against the yesterday’s allies and advisors. Unfortunately both America and Europe have enough of such sad experiences.

[Source: Gladkov Vladimir, The Voice of Russia, Moscow, 21Apr11]

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Libya War
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