What's Next for Libya after Western Airstrikes?
    2011-03-23 10:32:40     Xinhua      Web Editor: Zhangxu

A Libyan worker stands at the wreckage of the Boussetta Libyan navy base destroyed by U.S. missiles in Tripoli, capital of Libya, March 22, 2011. The Libyan government organized foreign journalists to visit the destroyed Navy workshop on Tuesday. [Photo: Xinhua]

While the Western-led coalition forces claimed initial success in substantially reducing the Libyan government's military capabilities after days of cruise missile attacks and air bombardment, experts and political leaders in the West warned there was no quick fix to the crisis in oil-rich Libya.

Loud explosions and intensive anti-aircraft fire were heard Tuesday night in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, which has been bombed by Western forces in recent days.

Meanwhile, U.S., French and British leaders discussed how to set up a proper command structure as demanded by Norwegian Defense Minister Grete Faremo.


French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Tuesday that a new political body, not NATO, will take over the responsibility of enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya.

The new body, to be set up as proposed by France, will consist of foreign ministers from countries that are currently participating in the military intervention in Libya, and some Arab states, he said, adding that it could meet soon in London or Paris.

He said the military action will stop only if "the Tripoli regime acts with accurate and complete compliance with resolutions of the UN Security Council, as it accepts an authentic cease-fire, and withdraws its troops from where they entered."

Also on Tuesday, the Elysee Palace said French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama had agreed via phone on how to use NATO's command structure to support the military operation in Libya.

"They agreed on the need to continue efforts to ensure the full implementation of 1970 and 1973 resolutions," Sarkozy's office said in a statement. They voiced their satisfaction with the coordinated military operation in Libya, which they believed limited civilian casualties and reduced the power of the Libyan government forces.

The United States was very reluctant to play a leading role in another military campaign, being deeply involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Jan Egeland, director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI),told Xinhua Tuesday.

"Now the U.S. is in command, but it wants to hand over (command) within the next days. The best option may be a coalition of Arab and Western countries in charge assisted by the NATO structures," Egeland said.

He also said that "it is now very important that Arab and other non-Western countries participate in the operation."

Vegard Valther Hansen, a NUPI researcher, echoed Egeland in stressing the importance of Arab participation in the military operation against Libya.

The participating Western countries were overwhelmed by the support offered to their military intervention by the Arab League, Hansen told Xinhua Tuesday.

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