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Libyan Airspace Under Control, But What’s Next?

Libyan Airspace Under Control, But What’s Next?

The airspace over Libya is now under the control of “Operation Odyssey Dawn,” and NATO is positioned to take over full command of the operation within a few days.

NATO Poised To Take Control

That’s the latest word on Libya.

According to National Public Radio:

The no-fly zone has been in effect for nearly a week, and the U.S. has been eager to turn over command. NPR’s Tom Bowman said there are currently two missions: One is to prevent the Libyan air force from attacking civilians; the other is to protect civilians from regime ground troops and safeguard the rebel-held city of Benghazi.

NATO has taken over command of the first mission, but it’s still not clear when the alliance will take over the second mission. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said NATO is finalizing plans for that larger role, and American officials expect that to happen by the weekend.

“We are taking the next step. We have agreed along with our NATO allies to transition command and control for the no-fly zone over Libya to NATO,” Clinton said. “All 28 allies have also now authorized military authorities to develop an operations plan for NATO to take on the broader civilian protection mission.”

How To Stop Ground Fighting?

But it’s complicated: with the operation’s promise to avoid any civilian casualties and not send in troops, Gaddafi’s forces are pressing ahead on the ground.
Officials say the airstrikes have weakened pro-Gaddafi forces considerably, but fighting has continued in Misrata in the west and Ajdabiya in the east.

From the BBC:

The Reuters news agency said a major rebel offensive on Ajdabiya had been aborted on Friday.

Rebel fighter Muammar told the agency: “We have men further up front and I am waiting for orders from them.”

The men, driving pick-up trucks armed with rocket launchers, said they had been spurred on by the bombing raids.

The AFP news agency reported that Gaddafi loyalists in armoured vehicles had repelled attacks by rebels at the gates of the town.

What Is The Endgame?

So this could be a long war, and what exactly is the endgame?

Presidents have to make a lot of decisions, and none calls for more clarity than the one to go to war. At this point, there is still a lot of confusion about what the ultimate goal in Libya is, and how it might be achieved. Getting rid of Gaddafi has been declared as not a goal, but it’s hard to imagine how the country would continue if he were still in power.

With the potential for prolonged conflict, calls are growing louder on Capitol Hill and elsewhere for a fuller explanation of precisely what the United States hopes to achieve and how it intends to achieve it.

Administration officials say they have done that — through the president’s public remarks made during his trip to Latin America, including in an interview with Univision television; in briefings by top aides with reporters; and in meetings with congressional leaders.

But part of the confusion comes from the fact that the administration has shifted over the past weeks — from resisting military action, to leading the first assault, to positioning itself to hand over control to its partners. That seems to have left almost no one satisfied.

Gaddafi Provides An Inadequate Set-Up

Here’s an interesting report from the BBC’s John Simpson, in Tripoli:

The coalition know that killing civilians would be disastrous in this war. They’re plainly making big efforts to avoid it. Libyan television often shows pictures purporting to portray civilian victims, but they’re impossible to verify.

Today international journalists in Tripoli were bussed to the suburb of Tajoura, which was genuinely targeted by the coalition last night.

Nearby we were shown a farmhouse that had supposedly been hit. But the holes in the wall that we were told were shrapnel could only have been the result of someone firing an automatic rifle at it.

And although the farmer, a strong gaddafi supporter, said his 18-year-old daughter had been injured, the gardener said it was a four-year-old boy. It all looked like a rather inadequate set-up, done for effect.

Unlike other Tunisia and Egypt, the fight for freedom in Libya promises to be a protracted one. So sad for the people of Libya.

For more Care2 coverage of North Africa and the Middle East, click here

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Photo credit via Creative Commons: شبكة برق | B.R.Q

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19 comments

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9:19PM PDT on Mar 29, 2011

I keep hearing that Obama is and has done the right thing with Lybia, but I question the following: 1) why did he not go and at least inform congress? 2) Obama says it is in our national interest? I do not see How! 3) Obama says it is for humantarian interest, if that is a reason to risk our American military men and women , then why did we not help Sudan, Congon or Nigeria? perhas they did not have oil? or their skins were too dark. Come on this imature president still has not named an exit policy or if he want Ghadfi to stay or go or be killed. Talk about wishy washy.

7:45PM PDT on Mar 28, 2011

Actually Piper; Bush did go to Congress because he knew he was going to tell a big lie and if he went in on his own he'd be impeached once the American people realized what he'd done. But, if Congress went along with him because they were sold a bill of goods, they would be culpible as well. Obama, as Commander in Chief can take action on his own if the government has threatened the security of our country or of course, if our country is under threat of imminent attack by a foreign government. Obama did what he needed to do. Please don't give war criminal Bush credit for doing the right thing. Karl Rove was the spinmeister and Bush was very 'well' advised in how to handle congress. Make no bones about it, it had nothing to do with integrity or honesty.

7:36PM PDT on Mar 28, 2011

Sound Mind; I agree with you and why should we be surprised at any of the bullshit loads posting that Obama was on vacation when in fact he was working. Too many 'Fauxsters' here that align themselves with Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly, etc. because they don't have the brain cells to think for themselves. I'm fed up with the faction of no because everything you come out with is fiction. You lapped up like thirsty dogs, anything and everything Bush and Cheney told you when the rest of the country knew what the bastards were up to. I heard nothing but "well, Bush is still our president and you need to stand behind him". Well, I didn't because most of us knew the fraud he'd perpetrated against the American people and the innocent civilians in Iraq. Liars and thieves they were and you slithered right along side them and screwed the rest of us in the process.

1:57PM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

In spite of some of the complete idiocy posted here, Obama is doing EXACTLY the right thing, which really raises the hackles of the Reprehenslicans and Teabaglicans. Not sure if it's just because they're stupid (fact) or it doesn't fit in with their Fascist ideologies (fact). Most likely BOTH.

1:41PM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

This article states, "With the potential for prolonged conflict, calls are growing louder on Capitol Hill and elsewhere for a fuller explanation of precisely what the United States hopes to achieve and how it intends to achieve it". Does anyone in the White House or its minions have any idea? Our so called president is in Brazil vacationing when he should have been brainstorming, and talking to congress. Oh, I forgot this president does not need congress's approval for anything as he will go around congress if he must and just "Will" it done.

I for one would like to know just WHO are we helping? perhaps the Islamic Brotherhood, Iran or who? do we know?

Perhaps we need a new Commander in Chief, before twe send our young men and women to war. From what I read it looks as if we have about 20,000 Marines floating in the Med. today, way too many when we have no idea who we are helping to take a country from Kadafy.

1:20PM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

"The coalition know that killing civilians would be disastrous in this war."

The USA is part of the coalition. So, have we declared war on Libya? I thought only Congress could declare war. I never thought I'd say anything good about former Pres. Bush, but at least he got approval from Congress BEFORE he took us into war. Granted Congress made a bad decision, but at least it was Congress making it.

"But it's complicated: with the operation's promise to avoid any civilian casualties..."

How do you have a war and NOT have any civilian casualties? You drop bombs, people die - that's a fact of war.

12:33PM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

Very difficult to decide what is right here .. It would be nice to think that the Lybians are letting a helping hand....

11:53AM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

Good enough way to use up old stockpiles of weaponry before their expiration throw-away dates. Put some of it in the hands of the civilian fighters.

11:36AM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

The U.S. should be involved only as support, not as an active combatant, or taking a military lead.

8:41AM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

What's next? Try learning something from the other idiot wars you've already been in or worse still in. Take off the the uniforms put down the guns leave the planes on the ground. Maybe something good could come out of Libya but not if staying there is involved. There could be a civil war even beyond the despot family what happens then. Can we watch Syrians die because they haven't been friends of the west and may prefer Iran? War is not the answer and never has been just a brief boost in economies. Get out of Libya and Afghanistan now that includes Canada even with the change of government.

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