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What will NATO's role be in a post-Gaddafi Libya?

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What will NATO's role be in a post-Gaddafi Libya?


Nato warplanes have once again been in action in the skies over Libya. On Friday it was confirmed a formation of Tornado jets fired precision-guided missiles against what has been called, “a large headquarters bunker” in Sirte.

Since NATO took command of air strikes on March 31 they have conducted over 20,200 sorties while off the coast of the North African country 16 ships under NATO command are enforcing an arms embargo.

As Libya enters a period of transition what will the alliance’s role be? Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, the Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, has been looking to the future with euronews’ Margherita Sforza.

She began by asking him about the whereabouts of Gaddafi, is he in Tripoli or in Sirte?

Admiral Di Paola:

“We don’t know. The National Transition Council has made assumptions and it perhaps knows most about Gaddafi’s movements as to where he is. There is talk about Sirte, he could also still be in Tripoli or in the south of the country.”

euronews: “The British Defence Minister Liam Fox has said NATO is involved in some way in the search for Gaddafi. Can you confirm this?”

Admiral Di Paola:

“I don’t think I should comment on the statement to which you are referring. It’s not NATO’s job to hunt people. That is not our job. We try to get information from the air, we are aiming to create a framework of information on the situation.”

euronews: “Is an intervention on the ground by NATO forces possible later and if so under what conditions?”

Admiral Di Paola:

“I don’t think there are any conditions. It’s up to the National Transition Council – who will be the legitimate Libyan authority post-Gaddafi – and the UN to define what kind of assistance will be necessary. NATO has committed it’s willingness to a role, not of guidance but of support. We don’t see, or to be more exact we exclude, the possibility of ground troops under NATO command, even in the post-Gaddafi period. And I don’t think the UN’s plans include this option.”

euronews: “There are a lot of weapons in Libya. According to estimates from the US Defence Department there could be as many as 20,000 surface-to-air missiles. That number has been questioned by experts, however it does give us a picture of the huge amount of weapons in Libya. What can you do to secure the country?”

Admiral Di Paola:

“It will be up to the legitimate government of the country and the people of Libya to guarantee security in the post-Gaddafi period. At the moment the actions of the National Transitional Council are giving hope in showing their capacity to manage security. It will be up to them to ask for support. I underline that NATO and not only NATO has already worked in other countries to secure areas where there have been dangerous weapons. We have the expertise, if requested we could deliver that expertise.”

euronews: “Can we make a comparison with Iraq? We have already seen some mass executions. There is a risk of conflict between tribes in Libya.”

Admiral Di Paola:

“The international community and the NTC have learned lessons from Iraq. I believe that the NTC will be able, and will want, to open an inclusive process where all parts of Libyan society, including those who up to now have been supporting Gaddafi, could have a role.”

euronews: “Do you think the rebels have declared victory too soon?”

Admiral Di Paola:

“I don’t think they have already declared victory. They are convinced, as we are, that the momentum is irreversible that there is no future for Gaddafi and for those who are still supporting him. However everybody including the NTC say that it is not over; only when there is no danger for the population and no conflict then the post-Gaddafi era can begin.”

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