With the fortunes of pro and anti-Gaddafi forces changing almost daily, the question of arming the rebels is being repeatedly asked of countries carrying out airstrikes.
Now Britain has joined the US by raising the possibility. Addressing parliament, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said, “UNSCR 1973 allows all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas and our view is this would not necessarily rule out the provision of assistance to those protecting civilians in certain circumstances. So as I’ve told the house before, we do not rule it out but we have not taken the decision to do so.”
Many countries attending yesterday’s London conference on Libya warned that introducing new weapons into a conflict could have “unforseable and unknown consequences.”
Sentiments shared by Russia, which remains firmly against any escalation in the fighting: “The NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Libyan operation was being conducted to protect the population, not to arm it. We fully agree with the NATO Secretary-General on this,” said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Despite NATO’s air support, tactical knowledge and organisation is probably where the rebels are weakest as most are thought to be poorly armed civilians.