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Bickering NATO allies discuss Libya in Berlin

The Local · 14 Apr 2011, 08:13

Published: 14 Apr 2011 08:13 GMT+02:00

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her European, Canadian and Turkish counterparts were to hold two days of talks in the German capital, two weeks after NATO took over a mission that divided the military alliance from the start.

After launching the first salvos to protect Libya's population nearly a month ago, Britain and France are pressing their partners to contribute more combat jets to protect the population from Muammar Qaddafi’s forces.

Only six out of NATO's 28 members are conducting air strikes to protect the population from Qaddafi’s forces, while French and British warplanes are carrying out half of the flights, a French official said.

"We must collectively be able to carry out our mission, which is to protect the population," said the official.

The squabble recalls the debate over troop contributions in Afghanistan, where the United States provides two-thirds of the soldiers while Europeans mull their exit strategies.

The United States has moved into a back-up role in Libya, leaving nearly all the air raids in the hands of its allies.

From the outset, France was reluctant to hand NATO control of the Libyan mission, which Paris launched with a US-British coalition last month, while Germany and Turkey opposed any military intervention, sparking the most bitter debate since the US-led war in Iraq in 2003.

Now, Paris is increasingly frustrated with the pace of air strikes as the battle has turned into a tug-of-war between regime and rebel forces, with Qaddafi entrenched in Tripoli and the opposition controlling the east.

NATO has already come under criticism from rebels urging the Western alliance to drop more bombs on Qaddafi’s tanks and artillery.

The NATO meeting follows intense efforts on the diplomatic front, after the African Union failed to broker a ceasefire earlier this week and after the international contact group on Libya met in Doha on Wednesday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed Libya over dinner in Paris on Wednesday.

Cameron said the two leaders would discuss "what more we can do, how can we help the opposition, how can we make more military pressure through NATO, what we can do to target this regime and the dreadful things they are doing."

During the working dinner, Sarkozy and Cameron agreed to increase "military pressure" on Qaddafi who "stays determined to maintain his war effort against his own population," a French presidency source said.

Spain has brushed off the Franco-British pressure, saying the NATO mission was doing well and allies did not need to deploy more assets, while Italy said it was "perplexed" by their demands.

Germany has refused to take part in the mission and even abstained from the UN Security Council vote authorising the strikes.

Story continues below…

"We will not see a military solution" in Libya, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Doha on Wednesday.

In Doha, world powers offered cash to Libya's rebels and the means "to defend themselves" while issuing fresh demands for Qaddafi to relinquish power.

But the idea of arming rebels also divides NATO members.

Belgium opposes it, while Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said "either we make it possible for these people to defend themselves, or we withdraw from our obligation to support defending the population of Libya."


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:40 April 14, 2011 by The-ex-pat
Oh the irony, a meeting about Libya in the country that wants nothing to do with the problem...........
09:42 April 14, 2011 by HANNIBAL-BARCA
Here we have another in the Local's long list of pro-western propaganda pieces. Nato is not in Libya to "protect the civilians" nor is there any such thing as "humanitarian" bombing.

I remember the last time the West gathered in Berlin to discuss how they would exercise their imperial power on the African continent. No matter if the West or Col. G. wins this amoral contest or it ends in a draw, Africa loses!

Oh that the winds of change and spirit of unity would empower the peoples of Africa to reclaim our sovereignty and throw off the yoke of non-African imperialism.
10:59 April 14, 2011 by storymann
This is a "Catch 22" increase the bombing will surely result in another strike on the opposition forces and generate more negative responses . Empower the opposition with arms and you fragment the Coalition and are guilty of regime change.

We will not see a military solution" in Libya, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Doha on Wednesday. He is correct.

The Nato members far over estimated the opposition and underestimated Qaddifi.

The only way the opposition will succeed is with military intervention on the ground and there is little to no support for this.
17:01 April 14, 2011 by Beachrider
This intervention was largely because of the European NATO members (and non-member France) were concerned about appearances. These countries feed the Qaddafi military purchasing budget by purchasing large amounts of Libyan oil. There is also a pan-Arab sentiment for alteration (if not replacement) of suppressive dictatorships in these states (read the Arab league statement).

The USA doesn't use Libyan oil. Libya is on the USA's embargo list (like Cuba and North Korea).

This really is fish-or-cut-bait. Either stop funding Qaddafi's budget (by not buying his oil) or deal with the pan-Arab sentiment. The USA unwisely followed Germany's trend with the Shah of Iran in the 1970s and it contributed to the radicalization of Iran that persists to today.
17:04 April 14, 2011 by tallady
@Beachrider Excellent point.
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