NATO Delays Decision to End Libya Mission; UN to Terminate No-Fly Zone

Posted October 26th, 2011 at 8:20 pm (UTC-5)
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NATO has unexpectedly postponed a decision to end its bombing campaign in Libya, as consultations continue with the United Nations and the country's interim government over how and when to end the operation.

Last week, the alliance announced preliminary plans to phase out its military mission on October 31. NATO ministers had been scheduled to meet Wednesday in Brussels to finalize the termination date, but they postponed that decision to Friday.

Libya's interim leader urged NATO to continue its mission until at least the end of the year. National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil said the move would help prevent fighters loyal to ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi from regrouping and posing a security threat.

In New York, diplomats said the Security Council plans to end U.N. authorization for a no-fly zone in Libya this week, despite calls from the government to wait. The move would effectively terminate NATO's authorization to operate in Libya.

Qatar's chief of staff Wednesday said Western countries have proposed setting up a new alliance headed by Doha to support Libya after NATO ends its mission.

Major-General Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah also said Qatar sent hundreds of troops to support Libyan revolutionary forces who overthrew Gadhafi. The Gulf state previously acknowledged only that its air force took part in NATO-led attacks.

Qatar played a key role in securing an Arab League resolution calling for international protection for Libyan civilians at the start of the uprising in March that culminated in Gadhafi's abdication from power.

NATO operations in Libya were conducted under a U.N. Security Council resolution to protect civilians from attacks by Gadhafi's military during the conflict.

In New York Wednesday, Libya's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said the security situation in Libya may not be stable enough to end the no-fly zone right away. He said there are questions about Libya's ability to monitor its borders.

Dabbashi also briefed the Security Council about Gadhafi's death last week, saying initial reports show no transitional fighters shot at him after he was arrested. The envoy said Gadhafi was bleeding from his abdomen and head when he was arrested, and that he died after arriving at a hospital in Misrata.

Video evidence has raised the possibility that the ousted leader was shot and killed as provisional government forces stormed his hometown of Sirte. The NTC has been under heavy international pressure to investigate the circumstances of his death.

Gadhafi was buried Tuesday in an undisclosed desert location.