On Friday Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed. After four days of display in a commercial meat locker he has been buried in a secret location in the Southern Libyan desert. A formal decision to end the NATO was to be made today. In the meantime Libya has been declared liberated and there was almost a “Mission Accomplished” moment for President Obama. No so fast, it seems that Libya is liberated but not without a continued NATO mission, at least until the end of this year.
NATO has now decided to delay its decision to end the mission in Libya. Consultations with the National Transitional Government continued today on how and when to end the mission. NATO is still flying air patrols over Libya. A spokeswoman for NATO, Carmen Romero, said that NATO Secretary Fogh Rasmussen was consulting with the UN and the NTC.
“The NAC will meet with partners on Friday to discuss our Libya mission and take a formal decision,” she said, adding that there was an “ongoing process” in the UN Security Council.
The NATO Mission was authorized in UN Resolution 1973, which was to establish a no fly zone and take all necessary measures to protect civilians. It is difficult to envision how after Gaddafi’s death and the defeat of Gaddafi loyalists this can be done from the air.
During the six month engagement of NATO, it flew 26,000 missions, including 9,600 strike missions. 5,900 military target were destroyed, including 1,000 tanks and air defences.
According to Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta, the NTC has asked for continuance of the mission to permit the establishment of governance. Just this morning the New York Times had an article touting how effective Obama’s strategy on Libya was.
“like Libya — that leverage popular forces on the ground and allies, as well as a judicious use of U.S. power, so that we keep the costs and risks down. In Libya, Obama saved lives and gave Libyans a chance to build a decent society. What they do with this opportunity is now up to them. I am still wary, but Obama handled his role exceedingly well,” the author said.
Yes not so fast, the final chapter on Libya has not been written yet.