Libya – where next?

In the first of a series of articles this week on Operation Odyssey Dawn, Left Foot Forward’s Frank Spring looks at various aspects of what happens next, starting with an introductory overview of the current situation.

In the first of a series of articles this week on Operation Odyssey Dawn, Left Foot Forward’s Frank Spring looks at various aspects of what happens next, starting with an introductory overview of the current situation

International operations against Libyan forces loyal to Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi began last weekend and continue to escalate.


As more partners contributed forces to the coalition, US Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced that the international force, led in fact by the United States at the moment and in rhetoric and principle by Britain and France, had established the No-Fly Zone and effectively stymied the advance of Qaddafi’s army on the rebel town of Benghazi.

In the face of this, Qaddafi issued a defiant statement on Sunday promising a “long war”, claiming that he had opened military depots to arm the civilian populace and vowing that his supporters on the ground would ultimately be victorious against the “crusader aggression”.

Qaddafi’s words were in stark contrast to his recent pledge to institute a ceasefire, but the Libyan despot has a strong history of speaking out both sides of his mouth. They do, however, raise an interesting question – if the No-Fly/No-Drive Zone has, in fact, been established and the civilian population of rebel territories preserved from massacre, now what?

The leadership of the international coalition is quite reasonably minding the sequences of its horses and carts for the moment. Admiral Mullen declined to comment specifically on the political resolution of the conflict. UK defence secretary Liam Fox was also vague, emphasising that the coalition’s current priority is simply to deny the Qaddafi regime the ability to use the military against its own population.

That should keep the international coalition intensely active for many days (if not weeks). What happens next is less clear. I’ll address the options in a series of posts this week, starting with Qaddafi’s promised Long Civil War.

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