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Military analyst on intervention options in Libya

Military analyst on intervention options in Libya
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Farouk Atig, euronews: To try to throw some more light on events we are joined by Pascal Boniface, director of the Institute of Strategic and International Relations in Paris.

Mr Boniface, has a military intervention in Libya any chance of success?

Pascal Boniface, IRIS :

Militarily yes. It’s not a difficult thing because if the countries, particularly of NATO, intervene militarily against Libyan forces, the balance of power is in their favour.

But the difficulty is political. Because if such an intervention did NOT have the green light from the UN, and if it was purely western powers, purely NATO, it would be a military success but a strategic and political failure.

So to succeed politically, first it is essential to get the agreement of the UN Security Council, and also for Arab League states to participate one way or another in such an operation.

euronews: What could the potential consequences be of a military engagement in Libya, specifically the enforcement of a no-fly zone?

Pascal Boniface, IRIS:

Once again, you really have to look at the military operation. If it is a unilaterally western military operation, something like the Iraq war or the Afghanistan war that could be a military success and a strategic failure. But if such a military operation went ahead with an international green light and participation by Arab states, then we might see two scenarios:

Air strikes to dismantle the air forces still loyal to Colonel Gaddafi, or an effective no-fly zone aimed at stopping Libyan planes from hitting insurgent positions.

A no-fly zone like that would not solve all the problems and would not deliver an immediate victory to the insurgents, but it would considerably hamper the operations of troops loyal to Gaddafi.

euronews: Do western powers have real room to manoeuvre or the means to apply pressure?

Pascal Boniface, IRIS:

Of course the idea is to get consensus and that it is not a uniquely western operation. Arab countries might indeed be ready to listen to the arguments, particularly to put a stop to the massacres in Libya.

And even Russia and China who are generally reticent, not to say hostile, to military intervention — for traditional reasons that have nothing to do with Libya, it’s been their constant position when it comes to military intervention in a country — but even they could change their standpoint if the humanitarian situation really becomes too much.

euronews: Finally, could the Libyan crisis pose a real risk to the rest of the region? And deep down, is a Somalian-type scenario possible?

Pascal Boniface, IRIS:

No, you absolutely can not compare the two.

But it’s true that while the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions passed off relatively peacefully, there – in Libya – there’s a civil war.

So it’s quite different. It’s not like Tunisia or Egypt where the army was on the people’s side. This time the army, or at least a part of the army, are siding with the government.

A civil war has started that’s really specific to Libya. On the one hand there’s Gaddafi’s personal power, power he’s held for a long time, controlling the security machinery, which at the same time is opposed by a large part of the country.

> Diplomacy continues over Libya no-fly zone