“The Libyans in the Nafusa mountains are alive and secure today thanks to a combination of Libyan courage and heroism and French wisdom and support,”
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France is also involved in diplomatic efforts in the north African state, with Prime Minister Francois Fillon saying a political solution to end the crisis is taking shape.
Still, the French government clearly sees military pressure as an important tool to push… Read More
The French National Assembly has voted to pursue France’s participation in NATO operations in Libya, four months after the first airstrikes against forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The debate now moves on to the Senate.
The French National Assembly voted Tuesday afternoon to authorise a continuation of France’s participation in NATO operations in Libya, four months after the first airstrikes were ordered.
The vote was 482 to 27, with several Communist and Green Party lawmakers voting against a continuation of France’s participation.
The parliamentary debate is required by a 2008 reform that stipulates that any military operation ordered by the French presidency must be evaluated and voted on by Parliament four months later. The Senate is expected to vote on the matter this evening.
Some of the debate revolved around the cost of the operation, especially in the wake of France’s decision to send combat helicopters in late May and weapons to Libyan rebels in early June.… Read More
France is growing impatient with the lack of progress on reaching a political solution to the crisis in Libya, but officials denied Paris is in talks with Gaddafi’s government or could consider him not quitting power.
Remarks by Defence Minister Gerard Longuet saying rebels should start direct negotiations with Gaddafi’s camp, and a report that Paris was talking to the Libyan leader, pointed to a growing restlessness in Paris about the stalemate.
But French officials denied any shift in position and said Paris had merely sent messages to Tripoli via intermediaries making clear the Libyan leader must relinquish power and withdraw his troops to enable a political solution.
“There are no direct negotiations between France and the Gaddafi regime, but we pass messages through the rebel council(TNC) and our allies,” foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said, asked about comments by Saif al-Islam, one of Gaddafi’s sons, saying Tripoli was in talks with the French government.
“France wants a political solution, like we have always said,” Valero said in an online media briefing.
“There is no change of course in the French position,” a defence ministry source said, asked about Longuet’s remarks.
Concerned about the mounting cost of the military campaign and the prospect of it running on into the start of a 2012 election campaign, France wants the opposition rebels it is supporting to do more to help end the conflict, as it struggles to make headway in its own dialogue with Gaddafi’s camp.… Read More
France has denied being in direct talks with the Libyan government but admits to “passing messages” to Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Bernard Valero, spokesman for the French foreign ministry, said France wants a political solution to the conflict but that for that to happen Gaddafi must relinquish power.
Valero was responding to claims from Gaddafi’s son Saif that Paris and Tripoli were in… Read More
It LOOKED,for a moment, like a return to the days of European interventionism. For the first time since Suez, Britain and France led an intervention in the Middle East. And unlike the disaster in Egypt in 1956, the action in Libya of 2011 was supported by America and by part of the Arab world too.
America was visibly reluctant to get involved, let alone lead the action. And, having helped to knock out Libya’s air defences and conduct some of the initial air-to-ground strikes, it pulled back from the front-line operations. But America’s role remains essential, not least in providing air-to-air refuelling, as well as intelligence and reconnaissance for the European allies.
The war in Libya, far from heralding a new era of European activism, has once again highlighted the limits of Europe’s military power, as Robert Gates pointed out today in his valedictory speech in Brussels. He is not the first American defence secretary to complain about low, often declining, defence spending in Europe (The Economist recently ran an interesting chart). Nor is it the first time Mr Gates himself has bemoaned the weakness of European allies. Last year he said the “pacification” of Europe, at first a great achievement, had gone too far and posed a threat to Western security. But his comments today were delivered with the sharpness of a man who knows he is at the end of his career and no longer needs to beg for favours. The speech is worth reading in full. But here is one passage that should make Europeans cringe.
To be sure, at the outset, the NATO Libya mission did meet its initial military objectives – grounding Qaddafi’s air force and degrading his ability to wage offensive war against his own citizens. And while the operation has exposed some shortcomings caused by underfunding, it has also shown the potential of NATO, with an operation where Europeans are taking the lead with American support. However, while every alliance member voted for Libya mission, less than half have participated at all, and fewer than a third have been willing to participate in the strike mission. Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they can’t. The military capabilities simply aren’t there.
In particular, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets are lacking that would allow more allies to be involved and make an impact. The most advanced fighter aircraft are little use if allies do not have the means to identify, process, and strike targets as part of an integrated campaign. To run the air campaign, the NATO air operations centre in Italy required a major augmentation of targeting specialists, mainly from the US, to do the job – a “just in time” infusion of personnel that may not always be available in future contingencies. We have the spectacle of an air operations centre designed to handle more than 300 sorties a day struggling to launch about 150. Furthermore, the mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country – yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the US, once more, to make up the difference.
As well as a paucity of European military resources, NATO faces two other dangers, Mr Gates said. One is the passing of his generation of American leaders, like himself, for whom the security of Europe was the over-riding pre-occupation of their careers. The second is that America, itself under pressure to cut defence spending to curb high deficits and debt, might soon give up on Europe: if the European taxpayers do not want to pay to preserve their own security, why should Americans shoulder the burden? Only five of the 28 NATO allies meet NATO’s recommendation that countries should spend at least 2% of GDP on defence: America, Britain, France, Greece and Albania. Today America’s key security interests are in the Middle East and in Asia. Europe will be the obvious place for America to cut expensive overseas commitments.… Read More
The French military are presenting their decision to parachute in weaponry to the Libyan rebels in the western Nafusa mountains as a response to a specific local situation.
Civilians, they say, were encircled by government forces who refused to allow the opening up of an aid corridor to reach them.
A French military spokesman says weapons including assault rifles, machine guns and rocket launchers were air-dropped earlier this month.
A report in today’s Le Figaro newspaper suggests that Milan anti-tank missiles may also have been included.
Arming the rebels is of course controversial, not least because in February, UN Security Council resolution 1970 established an arms embargo that appeared to apply to all sides in Libya. It talked about banning sales to the Libyan nation – the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
However there were those, not least the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who argued that the subsequent UN resolution 1973 – the one that allowed all necessary means to be used to protect Libyan civilians – actually amended or overrode the earlier UN decision.
Speaking in London in late March, she said that “there could be a legitimate transfer of arms if a country should choose to do that”.
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But the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, subsequently made it clear that Washington had not yet made such a decision.
British Prime Minister David Cameron took a similar position, noting that “the arms embargo applies to the whole territory of Libya, but at the same time UN Security Council resolution 1973 allows all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas.”
Mr Cameron told the British parliament: “Our view is that this would not necessarily rule out the provision of assistance to those protecting civilians in certain circumstances.”… Read More
Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s leader has threatened retaliation against Europe – warning of stinging attacks like “locusts and bees”.
Gaddafi said that Europe could face a catastrophe unless NATO ceases operations in his country.
He also urged supporters to retrieve weapons that France says it has supplied to rebel forces.
Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton reports from Misurata, where the rebels say they’re in desperate… Read More