NATO Plans for Libya Without Gadhafi

Posted June 8th, 2011 at 10:25 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

NATO says it is committed to its military campaign against forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and is preparing for a Libya without the authoritarian leader.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday after a meeting of alliance defense ministers in Brussels that Mr. Gadhafi's departure is no longer a question of “if” he goes, but rather “when” he goes.

A NATO statement issued Wednesday committed to providing “all the necessary means” and “maximum operational flexibility” to sustain its military campaign in Libya. NATO allies sought broader support and welcomed additional contributions to continue their efforts, after NATO warplanes rocked the Libyan capital, Tripoli, overnight.

On Tuesday, NATO carried out daytime airstrikes that were some of the most intense since the coalition operation began in March.

NATO is operating under a U.N. mandate that calls for taking all necessary measures other than occupation to protect civilians and civilian areas from attack by Mr. Gadhafi's forces.

However, the Libyan leader has vowed to continue fighting. He said in an audio broadcast Tuesday that the Libyan people will not surrender and will stay in their country until the end.

Meanwhile, the U.N.'s special envoy for Libya arrived in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi Wednesday for talks with opposition leaders. Jordanian Abdul Ilah al-Khatib came from Tripoli, where he reportedly held talks with officials from Mr. Gadhafi's government.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is traveling to the United Arab Emirates, where the 22-nation Libyan Contact Group holds talks on Thursday, including on how to assist the Libyan rebels opposing Mr. Gadhafi. The group agreed last month to set up a fund to provide the rebels with food, medicine and military supplies.

In Brussels, where NATO is based, lawyers for Mr. Gadhafi's daughter filed a war crimes complaint against the alliance. In the complaint, Aisha al-Gadhafi accuses NATO of bombing a civilian target in late April in Tripoli.

Libyan officials said the attack killed one of Mr. Gadhafi's sons and three of his grandchildren. The deaths have not been independently confirmed.

A Libyan spokesman said Mr. Gadhafi and his wife were there at the time, but were not hurt.