Maxime Biosse Duplan, euronews :
Joining us now is Pascal Chaigneau, Political Science professor at Paris Descartes university.
Having bombarded Libya’s aerial defence for nearly a week, the coalition says Gaddafi’s air force has been neutralised. What do you think are the next targets?
“The no-fly zone has to be set-up, that means establishing a permanent aerial presence, but at the same time, there are still targets on the ground. So we can expect bombing operations to continue but their number will diminsh. The difficulty now will be finding an objective strategy. Tactically, if the goal is to remove Gaddafi, then his forces will have to desert him which apart from a few units, doesn’t seem to have happened.”
So do you think this tactic has any chance of success in the short term?
“There’ll be some cause for concern that the army hasn’t been weakened by the aerial strikes. There’s now a risk of the country splitting in two, with Gaddafi remaining in Tripoli and in a position to negotiate. Leaving won’t make any sense for him because he’ll now doubt face charges in the International Criminal Court, so that’s why today he’s adopting a totally radical position. As long as he has troops loyal to his cause, not even great numbers, then he’ll maintain his totally radical position.”
On the diplomatic front, the United States wants to avoid a new Iraq or Afghan style conflict and is pushing for NATO to take command. Why has its stance created so many divisions within the international community?
“France sees NATO as representing the West and therefore doesn’t want its flag flying. It would be extremely awkward, considering Libya’s past and feelings in the Arab world in general, to identify the operation as western intervention. As for the American reation, well, they’ve been quite reticient given that they’re engaged in two conflicts in Muslim countries and don’t want to start a third in another.”
Almost from the start Paris and London have been united while Berlin quickly ruled out being involved. How is the European Union going to agree on a common position?
“It’s clear that the first collateral damage victim of this operation was the Franco-German relationship. It’s true, however, that in matters of defence, Britain and France have progressively been growing closer. But that said, this operation shows the fragility of European diplomacy. We don’t want to admit it but there were more countries against than for this operation, and ties between Paris and Berlin will no doubt be weaker as a result.”