Libya Intervention Draws Mixed Reaction in Britain
    2011-03-22 10:39:56     Xinhua      Web Editor: Yihang

Britain's involvement in the military intervention in Libya has triggered a mixed reaction in its own backyard.

A ComRes/ITV News poll published Monday showed 53 percent of respondents agreed it would be unacceptable for British troops to risk death or injury while trying to protect Libyan rebel forces.

Only slightly more than a third agreed it was right for Britain to take military action against Libyan government forces, while 43 percent disagreed, according to the survey.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that his country's participation in the multinational campaign to impose a UN-endorsed no-fly zone over Libya was "necessary, legal and right."

Two frigates, a submarine and several fighter jets of the British military joined the operation, which also involved France, the United States and some other countries, the prime minister said.

Yet many others have voiced warnings and reservations. For example, several parliament members have made it clear they don't want British ground troops on Libyan soil.

Recalling Britain's role in the protracted war in Iraq, many also expressed doubt over the aims, strategy and exit plan of their country's involvement in the Libya mission.

"I can't criticize British troops, but I don't want to see them get killed. Libya's a long way away. What's it got to do with us?" said Vic Spence, a warehouseman in London.

Meanwhile, others have voiced their opinions over whether Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is a legitimate target or not.

"Absolutely not. It's not allowed under the UN resolution, and it's not something I want to discuss any further," said General Sir David Richards, chief of the Defense Staff.

Yet Defense Secretary Liam Fox said Sunday that targeting Gaddafi "would potentially be a possibility," and others argued it is legal to target anybody endangering civilians.

Saying that Libyan rebels have "expressed a clear and overwhelming wish for Gaddafi to go," Cameron said his country agrees with that goal.

"But the UN resolution is limited in its scope, it explicitly does not provide legal authority for action to bring about Gaddafi's removal from power by military means," he said.

On Monday, about 150 people rallied in London in support of Gaddafi and in protest against Britain's intervention in Libya. "Stop the foreign intervention in Libya" and "Stop bombing our families and children" were among the slogans written on their posters.

"The reason for our demonstration is that we need to stop the war in Libya. We need to solve the problems politically and not by bombing our people in Libya," said Seraj Almahtucet, a protester.

Noting that intervening forces have largely destroyed Libya's air defense capability, Barak Seener, a Middle East fellow at the London-based think tank Royal United Services Institute, said that the next phase would be targeting troop concentration.

Yet he was cautious about whether the multinational forces could handle the situation, with Libyan government forces hiding in urban settings and thus saddling any air strike with the risk of mass collateral damage.


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