Western media have recently reported about NATO's intention to conduct a land operation in Libya to topple Colonel Gaddafi. Pravda.Ru interviewed German political scientist Alexander Rahr to find out to which extent a ground operation is possible.
"It is quite possible and logic taking into consideration the situation, in which NATO and Libya have found themselves. German generals stood up against any form of participation in the Libyan campaign because they knew that it would not be possible to solve everything with the help of air raids only. They knew that the situation would require more serious interference that may claim many people's lives. It is absolutely clear that the rebels are unable to put an end to Gaddafi's regime even if they have the support of NATO's aviation. They are exhausted and they are bleeding."
"But it's going to be a very unpopular decision for the West to make."
"In case there's no progress achieved during the upcoming weeks, the land operation scenario will only get more real. Those who stand behind the decisions to launch the combat action, made two big mistakes. They believed in the Arab democracy, and they didn't work out the extent of the national support of the Colonel. The West has been associating Arabs with enemies during the recent several years. Revolutionary riots in the Arab states created an illusion of the fact that the era of hostility with Arabs was over, that all Arabs were ready for democratic reforms, which would finally put an end to all conflicts. Everything was not like that. The West did not understand that the only democratic revolution took place in Tunisia. During the events in Egypt, the forces behind the riots were absolutely different and not democratic at all. A few people realized that the events in Libya were not actually a rebellion against the dictator. The Libyan events became the civil war, in which a half of the Libyan population supported Gaddafi. It will be extremely difficult to achieve victory in this situation, and NATO is trying to find a way out.
"Which practical steps are being taken to prepare the land incursion?"
"They are discussing technical details in the plan. They need to find a way to avoid the UN Resolution from 1973, which only covers the use of air force. Last week, NATO officials acknowledged in Istanbul that it was impossible to defeat Gadaffi with the methods that the alliance uses now.
"The fact that Western media have nearly stopped covering the events in Libya is also important to me. It seems to me sometimes that there is no such topic for them at all."
"Is there a chance to come to an agreement with Gaddafi to avoid military actions?"
"The last visit of US officials can be taken as one of the last warnings, if not the last. Most likely, they offered the colonel to capitulate with honors and threatened to bone right down to him otherwise."
"Why isn't it possible to wrap up the operation? Gaddafi said that he was ready to negotiate the situation, including the issues about Libya's presence in Western oil companies."
"It's not about the oil alone. Officials said during the recent NATO summit in Turkey that the alliance could not finish the operation and leave honorlessly. The alliance has not been doing very well recently, taking into consideration the fact that NATO is gong to pull out the troops from Afghanistan in spite of the fact that the tasks in that country have not been completed.
"If the alliance admits that it is unable to do away with Gaddafi, whom everyone at NATO took for a clown, it will be possible to sell NATO for scrap, because the organization would show its inability to establish law and order near its own borders. Who is going to treat NATO seriously after that? That is why the operation will be continued and expanded. The administration of the alliance is perfectly aware of the fact that the removal of Gaddafi's regime is a vital test for its further existence.
"Just imagine that they let Gaddafi go. From the point of view of the West, NATO will be defeated by the tyrant, not to mention the fact that the alliance will demonstrate its military and political weakness. Some countries may wish not to participate in the solution of military and political tasks of the European-Atlantic structures. It would be better for them to deal with their problems alone. This would be a very dangerous situation for Europe.
"How may the land operation begin?"
"There are certain doubts about the fact that NATO will dare to conduct full-fledged interference. Apparently, the participants of the bombings of Libya are going to have several tank units involved. The units will have to break through Gaddafi's defense to make a path for the rebels. British, French and most likely American military men will participate in the operation."
"But the Americans pulled out from the bombardments in April..."
"They can't let matters take care of themselves. This is their alliance, in which America is the primary force. If NATO is unable to get rid of Gaddafi's regime, it will be a defeat for America in the first place. Many criticize President Obama for his interference in the war. But he will be criticized a lot harder if he fails to save the reputation of NATO and the United States. This would be a very unpleasant moment for him in light of the coming elections. If he topples Gaddafi, one may say that Obama will be reelected.
"Britain's David Cameron also needs to save his reputation after the scandal with Murdoch. A splendid little war in cooperation with the USA and France would be a very good way out for him."
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