Diplomatic and Military Affairs

No end in sight, one month into NATO's Libya airstrikes

Updated: 2011-04-20 07:56

(China Daily)

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BRUSSELS - One month after the first bombs rained down on government forces and with no end in sight, NATO allies cannot agree on how to boost their firepower and break a stalemate in the Libya conflict.

France and Britain, which fired the first shots on March 19, have struggled to convince allies to intensify the air war while NATO commanders are scrambling to obtain even a few more ground-attack jets.

Politically, leaders in Paris, London and the United States vowed in a joint letter last week to keep up the campaign until Muammar Gadhafi leaves power, but the resilient leader has defied his one-time allies, and now Western foes.

"We are going to have to settle in for the long haul. Bombs won't make him go," said Nick Witney, European Council on Foreign Relations security expert, adding that it was up to the Libyan people to sort out their own future.

"I'm afraid that frustrating though it is, one has to accept that in military terms it is a stalemate, and it is going to stay that way until Libyans negotiate a solution to it. We just have to be patient," Witney said.

Allies have also been at odds over whether to arm the rebels, while Western powers have ruled out sending in ground troops, noting that the UN mandate that authorized the no-fly zone bars any foreign occupation force.

The influential chairman of the French parliament's foreign affairs committee, Axel Poniatowski, said France should deploy special forces to guide the airstrikes against increasingly elusive targets on the ground.

Agence France-Presse


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