Doubts over purpose of Libyan military intervention intensify

With Western-led coalition forces continuing their air strikes in Libya since March 19, doubts over the real purposes and goals of the mission have intensified globally.

The military operation was launched after the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on March 17 to enforce a no-fly zone on Libya and to take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya.

Yet, the military action has raised doubts, despite assurances from Western leaders, such as British Prime Minister David Cameron, who emphasized "the legitimacy, necessity and correctness" of the action.

With the air strikes, launched by major Western powers including France, Britain, the United States, Denmark and Italy, having destroyed Libya's air defense system and many of the tanks and heavy weapons of Libyan government forces, the doubts have intensified and many believe the mission has gone beyond the U.N. resolution.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa has criticized the international coalition force's bombing, saying the assaults went beyond the U.N. resolution that endorsed a no-fly zone over Libya.

"What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing civilians," Moussa said.

African Union (AU) chief Jean Ping has voiced similar disapproved, raising doubts about what would follow after a no-fly zone was "roughly" established.

"What's the next step? Do you have a roadmap? I don't see them at all," he said.

Analysts and observers said the military intervention showed some Western powers were getting involved in the internal conflict in Libya, despite promises they wouldn't interfere in Libya's internal affairs.

The Western powers also stressed the importance of finding a political and diplomatic solution to the Libyan crisis, but the so-called "political solution," which excluded the Gaddafi regime in the first place, was based on the military operation, analysts said.

The plan of the Western powers was to solve the country's crisis through political solutions and make the North Africa country follow a road they map out for it after forcing Gaddafi out through military means, analysts said.

NATO Stands Divided

Although a U.N. resolution stands ready to buttress airstrikes against the North African country, several experts and media commentators warned the alliance could be playing into Gaddafi's hands with its dithering, as each country embraces its own agenda.

Barah Mikail, a researcher with the French Foundation for International Relations and Exterior Dialogue, said France had been trying to display a unique position on Libya. It "seeks to demonstrate its leadership," Mikail said, adding that if French President Nicolas Sarkozy wins the bet, "he will get a nice card to play in the 2012 presidential elections."

The United States, still mired in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, has somehow managed to overcome the jitters over waging another war in Libya.

An article published recently by the Wall Street Journal said the U.S. had transferred command to NATO on two major concerns: neither France nor Britain should take the lead instead of the U.S., and the swift evolution of the Libyan situation prompted Obama to believe the country's involvement would pay off.

As to Britain, a country that has gradually lost the lead in international affairs, analysts pointed out it had seized the opportunity to expand its global influence. Prime Minister Cameron championed the idea of a no-fly zone from the moment unrest broke out last month.

Germany, a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has adopted a remarkable position on Libya. It has abstained from the U.N. vote on a no-fly zone over the country, refrained from joining forces with other Western powers, and even on some occasions indicated an "opposing attitude" to the West-led intervention. Germany said it actions were not out of support for Gaddafi, but concern military action was "too risky."

The only Islamic country in NATO, Turkey, has repeatedly voiced its opposition since West-led airstrikes began. However, after days of negotiation, all NATO member states, including Turkey, agreed to take over command of the military operations against Libya. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu nevertheless stressed on several occasions that Turkey would never use military force, worrying about finding in Libya another Afghanistan or Iraq war.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria slammed the military action against Libya as an "adventure" driven by oil interests, the harshest criticism so far from a NATO member state.

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 31Mar11]

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