NATO is getting ready for a land operation against Libya. The alliance requires only sanction from the U.N. Security Council. Broader intervention in Libya is due to fear of losing control of the situation. In case it’s not possible to get Russia and China to vote in favor of this operation, provocations will ensue.
Even earlier on there was evidence of small contingents from NATO countries already being inside the country. As early as the beginning of April, information leaked that French National Gendarmerie Intervention Group commandos were sent there. In mid-April, it was decided to send arms to Benghazi for the rebels. And in late April, France, Italy and Great Britain sent instructors there to train the rebels.
The current agenda entails a logical development of the situation – ground operations. Deputy NATO Secretary General for Political Affairs James Appathurai openly declared that the U.N. Security Council must adopt a new resolution on Libya, which would authorize the use of force on the ground: “The U.N. Security Council should adopt a new resolution on Libya. Resolution 1973 does not envisage land operations. We need a new resolution.”
The fact of the matter is that the U.N. Security Council’s March 17 resolution provides for only limited use of force against Libya and excludes the use of ground forces. And although Appathurai insists that the coalition forces do not plan to change the political regime in Libya, everyone has long known the value of NATO’s promises. Also, recent developments in the hunt for Gadhafi by air, resulting in the deaths of his son and little grandchildren, once again confirm that what the West does is diametrically opposed to what it says.
Only a day before this event, NATO officials assured the world that they did not plan physical elimination of the colonel. Yet they went and attacked a completely civilian target, where his closest relatives were located.
Now NATO is trying to obtain authorization from the United Nations. Of course, the West, in its typical manner, says that it will continue the attacks, but that there is no threat to the colonel.
According to Appathurai, “NATO is not targeting Gadhafi.” However, his troops continue to deliberately kill civilians in Libya, and the protection of civilians is the primary purpose of the coalition. NATO has continuously demonstrated how it plans to do this by the repeated air strikes on civilian targets in the country.
Thus, in the near future, NATO countries may raise the issue in the Security Council of expanding the scope of operations. They are becoming further involved in the conflict because the air operation did not produce the desired effect quickly enough. Their computations were based on the belief that, just like the typical Arab armies, Gadhafi’s demoralized armed forces would flee as soon as the air strikes started, and on their shoulders, the rebels would immediately take over Tripoli, and the Libyan oil would again flow to the West for the most favorable price.
However, they miscalculated in one way. The people, as a whole, remained faithful to Gadhafi, who during his 40 years of rule, has transformed the Libyan desert into a blooming oasis.
The NATO bombings have produced a limited effect. Every day of air strikes costs the members of the North Atlantic alliance a hefty sum. It’s no coincidence that Barack Obama, having spent over $600 million (more than $110 million gone only to Tomahawk cruise missiles) on the operation, declined more involvement in aggression shortly before the announcement of his election campaign.
If the situation is looked at from a purely practical side, British intelligence claims that as a result of the air strikes, the Libyan army’s potential has been weakened by 40 percent, but American and Israeli intelligence agree that it’s too early to write it off. Gadhafi not only managed to retain the bulk of heavy weaponry, but also the country’s air force. Moreover, his forces multiplied by the total self-mobilization of the Bedouin tribes. Judging by the clips being shown on Libyan national television, even women have taken up machine guns.
Given that the colonel gave out small arms and rocket-propelled grenades to anyone wishing to have them — and those wishing to have them did not have a burning desire to rid themselves of the colonel who tortured them with social benefits that even the West cannot boast of — the fate of the handful of Islamists and guest workers from neighboring countries who joined them is unenviable.
Is it any wonder that under the rule of enemy aircraft, the colonel was about to completely clear the Tunisian border of rebels? Moreover, the continued existence of pockets of resistance in Misurata is questionable. Judging by information coming from there, tribal militia has gotten very close to taking over the city, if it hasn’t already.
Even in the east of the country, a traditional stronghold for Islamists, the situation is getting worse for the rebels. The inhabitants of Benghazi, Tobruk and other cities are clashing periodically and even experience full-blown fighting with the rebels. In turn, the situation is deteriorating for the latter due to the fact that they are regularly getting into fights with each other. The reason: the struggle for power and control over the “help” arriving from Europe and Qatar. The situation is drifting towards chaos.
According to NATO strategists, the situation can be saved by a ground operation. Delay in this situation is fraught with the explicit threat of a complete loss of control of the situation.
This calculation is based on the belief that Russia and China can be persuaded once again to approve the extension of the use of force, as they had done before with the adoption of Resolution 1973. If, however, this time someone would suddenly veto, then previously conceived provocations might ensue. Of course they can compose another fable, say, about the massacre “of Misurata civilians by Gadhafi’s mercenaries.”
However, very few believe in such tales, even among the most zealous opponents of the colonel. It is therefore necessary to devise something in the style of Sept. 11. The western media will cry loudly of “the trace of Gadhafi,” who recalled his terrorist past and paid back NATO for the deaths of his relatives. And to protect them from the Libyan Sauron, the West will forget about the U.N. Security Council resolution. It is not even compulsory to demolish the Twin Towers for this. Even now, the western media is setting the stage for the realization of such a scenario. Consider at least that they misinterpreted the colonel’s speech. Supposedly he declared war on Italy, who, by the way, recently sent planes to be used in air strikes against Libya.
There is another option, in which the rebels draw Tunisia into military operations. Such reports have come repeatedly in recent days. Now the rebels are trying to open a second front against Gadhafi from the side of Tunisia. When government forces begin their destruction, they start running through the Libyan-Tunisian border and open fire on the colonel’s soldiers from there, trying to provoke them to invade a neighboring country.
They have already succeeded once: pursuing fleeing rebels, Gadhafi’s army deepened a couple of hundred meters into Tunisian territory. That was followed by angry protests from the Tunisian authorities and accusations of aggression, even though they themselves do not seek to maintain order on their own border.
Or another incident: according to information from Arab blogs, residents of the settlement Dheba caught one of the insurgents’ snipers who fired on Tunisian soldiers and civilians. The goal was simple: provoke a Libyan-Tunisian conflict, since of course, the world community would not leave a newborn Tunisian democracy without protection.
However, the main intrigue consists of the issue of which countries are willing to participate in a land operation. In any case, the number clearly would not be greater than of the present participants in the air strikes.
By Sergei Balmasov
Translated By Maria Shendrick Frank
3 May 2011
Edited by Jenette Axelrod