Young Academic is the UK’s Premier Student News Service, but it doesn’t end there. We are also committed to bring you all the most up to date World, National and Sports News. Check out this great piece on the developments in Libya, from our Chester correspondent. As the crisis in Libya continues, Robert Gant investigates whether NATO have a long term strategy in place and the possible outcomes of the rebellion.
The no-fly zone is in place. The Libyan Air Force no longer exists as a fighting force. The rebel stronghold of Benghazi is safe from a Pro Gaddifi onslaught. The big question seems to be; what comes next?
The UN resolution 1973 rules out an occupation force and the allies involved in the Libyan mission all seem keen to stress they will not be putting military boots on the ground. This is probably for a number of reasons. Firstly, ground campaigns where allied soldiers could lose their life would be extremely bad for public opinion at home in the allied countries. Another key reason why it seems unlikely we will see British, French or American troops on the ground in Libya is the support of the Arab League. Arab League support for the no-fly zone was crucial in leading to the UN Security Council agreeing to take action. The loss of Arab League support would make Libya look like another Iraq, a Western crusade into the Middle East and the damage to Western-Arab relations would be unthinkable.
“That leaves the world with a stalemate and the possibility of a long, drawn out campaign.”
So in terms of military strategy that appears to leave it down to the rebels themselves to march west on Tripoli and topple Colonel Gaddifi with the help of NATO airstrikes. This result would appear to be equally unlikely. Even after French and now British offensive airstrikes, in which Pro Gaddifi armoured columns and artillery have been targeted, the rebels have still struggled to make any real gains. The likelihood that an untrained, uncoordinated group of revolutionary fighters will be able to advance hundreds of miles across Libya and liberate Tripoli, the Colonel’s stronghold, is very low.
That leaves the world with a stalemate and the possibility of a long, drawn out campaign. NATO has agreed to take over the command position of the operation from the Americans and overnight airstrikes have continued on military positions and loyalist Gaddifi forces. What cannot be allowed to happen is that the airstrikes fizzle out and Libya is partitioned in two – A Gaddifi run Western Libya and a rebel controlled Eastern Libya. For obvious political reasons this is undesirable but that would probably mean the no fly zone would have to remain indefinitely, as happened with Iraq after the first Gulf War. The economic cost of this alone is enough for the allies to ensure this outcome doesn’t materialise.
Arab League and African Union intervention on the ground seems very unlikely at this stage and so NATO commanders have a problem. The problem being what is the correct strategy to bring about an end game in the Libyan crisis? Indeed what is the end game in Libya? While talk of targeting Gaddifi directly is controversial in some parts of the alliance surely a regime change must be part of the final outcome, especially given the strong rhetoric heard from Western governments when the uprising first began. As the fighting rages on a solution to these problems is what everyone will be watching and waiting for.