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NATO takes major Libya role

brussels bureau

NATO takes major Libya role


Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi now has all of NATO to reckon with. The 28-member military alliance has agreed to be in charge of the UN-backed western-led coalition intervening in Libya. A structure has been worked out to police the skies, enforce the arms embargo and safeguard civilian lives.

In Naples, Canadian Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard is the top commander. He said: “I can assure you that every action that we take is always taken with care to ensure that minimum collateral damage takes place. Our job is to ensure the safety of people and we will do what it takes to do that.”

Not all NATO members will do the same thing. Germany is adamant it will not act militarily. British Prime Minister David Cameron, a leading interventionist from the start, and (in this case) like-minded French President Nicolas Sarkozy have jointly called on Gaddafi partisans to lay down their arms. They said everyone’s goal must be political dialogue in a process of transition.

Turkey had threatened to use its NATO veto to limit allied operations against Libya’s infrastructure to avoid casualties among Muslim civilians. But Ankara’s concerns were taken into account, and a senior official in the US administration said NATO taking charge will encourage participation from countries which had been reluctant to join in before.

Full coordination of the military machinery is expected to take several days. The head of NATO will take part in further high-level talks about political control this Tuesday.

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