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'West Lacks Political Target in Libya'

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TEHRAN, May 1 (ICANA) – NATO air strikes on Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi's compound have killed his son and grandchildren as battles between the revolutionaries and the army continue in the African country.
Sunday, May 01, 2011 10:59:52 PM
'West Lacks Political Target in Libya'

In an interview with Press TV, Hisham Jaber, director of the Middle East Center for Studies and Public Relations from Beirut, commented on the current critical situation in Libya. The following is a transcript of the interview:

Q: NATO says it targets Gaddafi's command centers and not specifically Gaddafi himself. However, Gaddafi's son and grandchildren were killed in a recent NATO air strike on his compound. Would you presume that NATO's strikes are specified to target Gaddafi?

Jaber: As a short answer, I am not sure they have complete information that Gaddafi was in the building they bombed. We have been talking about the situation in Libya for two months. We said Bab al-Azizia was not a military target. It is headquarters of Gaddafi. It seems they have now moved to a plan B which puts Bab al-Azizia as a military target.

We are not sure they did target Gaddafi himself, but the strike that killed one of his sons and three grandsons means that NATO has moved to a new evolution which is plan B. It means NATO will target Gaddafi and his headquarters and his family. Gaddafi's son was not of course a civilian. He was one of Gaddafi's commanders.

This strike has a lot of psychological pressure on Gaddafi himself, even though NATO said he is not personally a military target. As everybody knows, there is a conflict among NATO states. Some of them like Italy and Germany have said Gaddafi or even his regime is not their business. They said they are in Libya according to the UN resolution 1973 that protects the civilians. They have not been able to protect the civilians for two months. The estimated number of killed civilians is around twelve to fifteen thousand. The figure means that three to five thousand of those civilians were killed within one month after the NATO intervention.

The recent strike shows NATO's new policy. It means that NATO has moved to another plan, and Gaddafi himself might think that he himself will probably be the target.

Q: The fatal air strike on Gaddafi's compound came just hours after he called for negotiations and a “mutual ceasefire” with NATO to end the bombing campaign. How do you think the incident is going to affect the situation and the war in Libya from this point on?

Jaber: From the first week after the revolution, and when Gaddafi made counterattacks for three weeks to control most of the Libyan territory before the UN resolution 1973, we have been convinced that the international community and the Western bloc including the United States do not seriously want any end to the Libyan regime. We were talking about electronic warfare which could forbid Gaddafi to use his air force and would paralyze his means of communication, etc.

Since the UN resolution was applied, nothing has changed. There is de facto status quo in Libya. From the military point of view, we have had one step ahead and two steps back. It seems that when Gaddafi accepts negotiations, it is not something new. We remember three weeks ago when Italy and Germany proposed a ceasefire to create a buffer zone between the two forces (Gaddafi's troops and the revolutionaries.) That means partition of Libya into two parts.

If Gaddafi has to choose between leaving Libya and having half of the country under his control, he will accept the [second] alternative. Gaddafi is looking for a ceasefire in order to prepare himself and reorganize his military forces and stop the air strikes. The worst case is that he would control half of Libya.

Everybody knows that there are now two accounts for the oil in Libya; one account for Benghazi, and one for Tripoli. The recent strike means a significant evolution. It seems some countries like the United States are getting tired of Gaddafi, and they want him to go. Obama said two days ago that a person like Gaddafi, who is committing massacre to his own people, cannot have any role in the future of his country. That means the Americans have made their decision that Gaddafi has to go. It is a matter of time, and I do not think he will go. If Gaddafi himself is not targeted, he is ready to stay and he is capable of accepting any ceasefire.

Q: Libyan people say they do not want any foreign ground troops in their country. There have been comparisons between the Libyan situation and that of countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Western intervention in such countries has not been able to stop the massacre of the civilians. Do you think we will also see some kind of ground intervention in Libya in the long run?

Jaber: I believe I do not see any end to the battles in Libya in the near future, because the intervention is not that serious. As a military person I do not understand why for more than one month NATO has not been able to forbid Gaddafi's artillery and his land forces to attack Misratah and to make such battles there. We know Gaddafi does not have any air defense. In my opinion, in a couple of days the NATO forces could destroy Gaddafi's entire army, his artillery and tanks etc. I do not see NATO forces serious in this war...

The war in Libya will take a long time. I am not sure if they will use land forces. United States said it would not do it. I think in such a case there is something in between air strike and land intervention. Commando operation by Great Britain or France, for example, could be made on specific targets like Bab al-Azizia. In my opinion, from the military point of view this is the only alternative they can have in the near future if they want an end to this war. If they pressure Gaddafi, he would stay, and they would make ceasefire and create a buffer zone which means partition of Libya.

They have been in Afghanistan for ten years, and they have done nothing. They are leaving Iraq. Nobody knows about the future. There are two alternatives. Gaddafi would seriously be the target; his headquarters would be destroyed so he would not have any choice but to leave. Or he would stay. It is not me who decides; it is not you; it is not probably Gaddafi. If NATO and the United States have a clear political target, they can do it. But so far, they have not had any clear political target.

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