|The ongoing multinational intervention in Libya has not only increased the risk of civilian casualties in the North African country but also added more uncertainties and destabilizing factors to an already volatile situation in the Middle East.
Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said Thursday that nearly 100 civilians had been killed in the Western-led air strikes, which have been described by many as "opening a Pandora's Box" of chaos.
But Western military officials denied any civilians had been killed.
As the air strikes, launched by major Western powers including France, Britain, the United States, Denmark and Italy, entered their ninth day on Sunday, questions and doubts are beginning to surface about the goal and purpose of the mission.
Arab League chief Amr Moussa has criticized the international coalition force's bombing, saying the assaults went beyond the UN resolution that endorsed a no-fly zone over Libya.
"What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing civilians," Moussa said.
Top Republicans in the U.S. Congress have also questioned the purpose and goals of U.S. military intervention in Libya and complained that lawmakers were not consulted before President Barack Obama decided that America would join the mission.
Worried that U.S. forces might be mired in a long and costly operation lacking defined goals, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner has said in a statement: "The administration has a responsibility to define for the American people, the Congress and our troops, what the mission in Libya is."
Boehner's concern was echoed by Republican Representative Howard McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who said: "I am concerned that the use of military force in the absence of clear political objectives for our country risks entrenching the United States in a humanitarian mission whose scope and duration are not known."
Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has severely criticized the U.S. role in the military operation against Libya.
"The use of force against other countries became a steady trend in U.S. policy," Putin noted, adding this trend was "disturbing."
The UN resolution "is, surely, flawed and lame ...as it allows intervention in a sovereign country," he said.
Last Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov renewed in the Algerian capital Algiers his country's condemnation of the "use of force" in Libya.
"We have a common position with Algeria regarding respect for fundamental rights to human life. And, thus, we condemn any use of force" in all the countries, Lavrov said.
The chief of the African Union (AU) on Thursday also reaffirmed his reservations about the multinational intervention in Libya and questioned the participants' coordination.
Although three African countries, namely South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon, voted for the UN resolution endorsing a no-fly zone over Libya, the AU still disapproves of foreign military intervention, said Jean Ping, chairperson of the AU Commission.
"We will not oppose a decision by the international community," but "we marked our reserves" by abstaining from the Paris meeting, held shortly before France sent its warplanes to bomb Libyan targets, the AU chief said.
Earlier in the day, when giving a lecture at a university in Paris, the veteran African diplomat raised doubts about what would follow after a no-fly zone was "roughly" established.
"What's the next step? Do you have a roadmap? I don't see them at all," he said.