[Marxism] NATO on war footing in Libya till Gaddafi gov smashed

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Thu Sep 1 11:37:25 MDT 2011

Nato keeps war footing in Libya until Gaddafi regime smashed
World leaders attend Friends of Libya summit to recognise NTC as new 
Julian Borger in Paris guardian.co.uk, Thursday 1 September 2011 12.31 BST

Nato will remain on a war footing in the skies over Libya until the last 
remnants of the Gaddafi regime have been defeated, European diplomats 
have said.

World leaders are converging on Paris on Thursday for a Friends of Libya 
summit intended to acclaim the National Transitional Council (NTC) as 
the country's new interim government, and mark a pivot point in the 
international community's efforts in Libya from war to reconstruction.

The leaders will discuss a new UN security council resolution which will 
endorse the new status quo, lifting the sanctions regime on Libya to 
allow the NTC to get access to over $100bn (£62bn) in state assets 
frozen abroad since the start of the conflict, while handing the United 
Nations the lead international role in rebuilding the country.

However, the NTC's western backers, led by France, Britain and the US, 
want to continue Nato's legal mandate to conduct military operations in 
Libya laid down in UN resolution 1973. The resolution, agreed in March, 
allows the alliance to use "all necessary measures", short of deploying 
ground troops, to protect civilians.

"We want to keep open the possibility of Nato operating legally as long 
as Gaddafi and his supporters may pose a threat, so we want to keep 
those elements of 1973," a European diplomat said.

Gaddafi loyalists are still holding out in Sirte on the coast, in Bani 
Walid – about 150 miles south of Tripoli, and in the desert city of 
Sebha. Gaddafi forces have rejected an ultimatum set by the NTC for 
troops in Sirte to surrender by tomorrow. .

The Nato mandate expires at the end of September. The North Atlantic 
Council, Nato's governing body, had the option of extending it when it 
held a regular meeting on Wednesday, but was advised by military 
commanders to wait until there was more clarity about what the UN 
planned to do.

Nato's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, will tell the Paris 
summit that the alliance is ready to support UN operations, but that it 
will maintain its military role for the time being, conducting air 
strikes against pro-Gaddafi armour and artillery.

"What we have seen in the last month and a half is that every time they 
withdraw from a town, the Gaddafi forces shell the town, targeting not 
just opposing forces but the people of those towns," a Nato official 
said. "We cannot afford to have them withdraw from Sirte and then shell 
it. We will not hesitate to hit his tanks and guns, no matter what they 
are doing, for that reason."

European capitals were caught by surprise by the speed of the Gaddafi 
regime's collapse, and the fall of Tripoli on 21 August. In the days 
before diplomats from Britain, France and the US had been working on a 
UN resolution that would have endorsed a ceasefire between the rebels 
and the regime and deployed UN observers to monitor the truce.

"None of that is needed any more. This went much better than even the 
most optimistic of us expected," the European diplomat said. "There are 
no longer two parties to monitor, just one Libya. There is no need for a 
ceasefire and no need for any observers."

The US, France, Britain and Qatar, which has provided the movement with 
critical financial and military support, wanted a new UN resolution to 
have been passed before Thursday's Paris meeting. However, there was 
resistance from countries to writing off the Gaddafi government and 
giving immediate recognition to the NTC.

Russia recognised the NTC only on the eve of the summit, leaving China 
as the last permanent security council member yet to do so. China is 
attending the summit but at a low level with a vice-minister from the 
foreign ministry, but western capitals are hopeful that Beijing will 
grant recognition in the next few days.

The NTC leadership will be asked to come up with a list of requirement 
for international aid, which it is supposed to present to a Friends of 
Libya ministerial meeting in the margins of the annual UN general 
assembly in New York at the end of this month.

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