NATO on Ground Troops in Post-Gaddafi Libya: Not Us!

World | August 24, 2011, Wednesday // 16:06|  views

Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Italian Admiral Giampaolo di Paola, pictured here in Spain in June 2011. Photo by EPA/BGNES

NATO has no plans whatsoever to send ground troops in Libya once dictator Muammar Gaddafi is toppled, according to Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

Admiral Di Paola told the BBC Wednesday afternoon that NATO's mission in Libya – consisting in maintaining a no fly zone and attacks on Gaddafi targets, technically to protect civilians – would continue for the time being.

"The tipping point has been reached, there is an irreversible momentum playing against Gaddafi and loyalists to Gaddafi, but the game is not over yet. Therefore, we will continue the mission to uphold the UN resolution," the NATO Military Committee head stated.

"This is the moment for the Transitional National Council to demonstrate that they can not only take control of the country but can hold control of the country, and to have an inclusive process," he added.

Admiral Di Paola explicitly made it clear NATO would not put troops on the ground in post-Gaddafi Libya.

"There may be other boots on the ground, but not Nato," he is quoted as saying.

On March 19, 2011, NATO-led international forces started air and rocket strikes against the Gaddafi regime under a UN Security Council mandate.

Operation Odyssey Dawn was the US code name for the US part of the international military operation in Libya to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 during the initial period of 19–31 March 2011, which continued afterwards under NATO command as Operation Unified Protector.

The initial operation implemented a no-fly zone that was proposed during the 2011 Libyan civil war to prevent government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out air attacks on anti-Gaddafi forces.

The US initially had strategic command of the military intervention but passed complete military command of the operation to NATO and took up a support role on 31 March 2011. 

As the rebels, represented by the Benghazi-based Libyan National Transitional Council, are expected to crush the Gaddafi regime within hours or days at most, press in the Arab world has voiced concerns over NATO's potential stationing of troops on the group in Libya.

As the Arab League declared its full-fledged support for the Libyan rebels on Monday, Al Ahram, the most popular Egyptian daily, pointed out that the statement of the Arab League secretary-general came against a backdrop of ambiguity over NATO's next step in Libya, with speculations that the Alliance might negotiate some ground military presence with the National Libyan Council forces during the transitional phase.

These prospects were subsequently rejected by the rebel government in Benghazi, which vowed not to allow NATO ground presence in Libya.

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Tags: Libya, NATO, Operation Odyssey Dawn, United Protector, Muammar Gaddafi, Arab League, Arab world, rebels, transitional National Council, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, NATO Military Committee


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