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NATO watchful and wary over Libya's future

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NATO watchful and wary over Libya's future

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Nial O’Reilly, euronews:

“Colonel Gaddafi may have lost control of Tripoli, but he remains at large and apparently determined to fight on. To discuss the highly volatile situation in Libya, we’re joined now by Christian Le Mière, an analyst with the independent London based think-tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

After the euphoria dies down, what’s the next move for the rebels, and indeed for Colonel Gaddafi. How will this conflict play out as you see it?”

Christian Le Mière, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London:

“Well it really depends on whether they’re able to recapture Gaddafi’s son and Gaddafi himself and bring them into some kind of Libyan judicial regime. If they are unable to do so, it could be that the Gaddafis are able to launch some form of insurgency, but that depends on having both the material and the support, it’s unclear at the moment if they do.”

Nial O’Reilly, euronews:

NATO says there’ll be no boots on the ground but how can the rebels prosecute this next phase of the conflict, tracking down Gaddafi, without NATO’s expertise on the ground?”

Christian Le Mière:

“I think Nato is very keen to avoid any kind of military presence on the ground. There are, as the rebels have shown, there are various numbers of personnel that are involved in the rebel movement and although very poorly trained it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to install some sort of law and order.”

Nial O’Reilly:

“Are Arabic nations like Qatar, which have been involved, likely to increase their military involvement?”

Christian Le Mière:

“I think all nations are keen to look for a Libyan solution here, so they will be loathe to deploy any troops themselves. Qatar and the UAE have been involved by providing material to the rebels, certainly some logistical support as well. I think if they’re able to avoid it any way, no nation would like to put their troops on the ground.

There’ll certainly be support – there is the possibility of special forces or other intelligence personnel on the ground. But those presences are likely to be kept to a minimum because of the potential political opprobrium, if NATO forces or any other country is found to have a significant presence on the ground.”

Nial O’Reilly:

“We have seen a certain amount of disarray among the rebels. Can they succeed if internal tensions come to the surface as the conflict drags on?”

Christian Le Mière:

“The tribal politics in Libya are obviously incredibly complex and there will be lots of jockeying for political position in these very uncertain times, but there’s also a real groundswell of positive opinion behind the idea of a Libyan solution and political solution to this current turmoil.”

Nial O’Reilly:

“Well, before we get to that stage, there’s still speculation that an increasingly desperate Gaddafi could resort to chemical weapons what’s your view on that?”

Christian Le Mière:

“The arsenal would be very rudimentary, even if indeed it exists. He declared mustard gas stockpiles in 2004 and they were in a deleterious state at that point, so it’s questionable whether there would be any arsenal left whatsoever. There certainly doesn’t appear to be any evidence of chemical warheads that have been weaponised and that have been put onto Scud missiles. So it’s questionable that he would be able to use any form of chemical weapons.”

Nial O’Reilly, euronews

“After the invasion of Iraq one of the mistakes the US was perceived to have made was not including the Iraqi army in the rebuilding of the country. Could that mistake be repeated in Libya?”

Christian Le Mière:

“I think everyone involved in the Libyan situation at that moment is very aware of the Iraq example, particularly departification and the consequences of departification, which really fuelled the insurgency in the immediate aftermath of the Iraq invasion. There may be some kind of bloodletting, but I think everyone is keen to prevent a dismantling of the state that existed because they know the anarchy that may occur could just fuel instability.”

Nial O’Reilly:

“Well, whatever happens in the coming days, stability seems a long way off, Christian Le Miere, thanks for your insights.”