Libya: on eve of a ground operation? -VOR
Laaska News April 23,2011
Garibov Konstantin (Apr 22 VOR)
In an interview with the Voice of Russia aired on Friday, Vladimir Sotnikov, a Moscow-based Middle East expert, said that the beginning of the West’s ground military operation in Libya is just a question of time.
“I do not rule out that next week may well see the start of such an operation, which at the same time is unlikely to get the green light from the United States, Sotnikov says. Washington’s foot-dragging may understandably infuriate those Arab states, which are insisting on an immediate start of the operation, he contends. As for the US’ Western allies, their possible reaction is beyond me,” Sotnikov concludes.
He is echoed by his colleague Vitaly Naumkin who warns against jumping to conclusions on the topic.
“Actually, something of a limited ground operation has already begun, Naumkin argues, remaining skeptical of a full-fledged ground troop intervention in Libya, a move that he says must be endorsed by a relevant UN Security Council resolution, which has yet to be adopted. “
Speaking to reporters in Ljubljana on Thursday , Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, for his part, warned against a Western ground operation in Libya.
“We are concerned about the latest developments in Libya, where all signs are that a ground operation is in the offing, Lavrov says. We consider such steps to be extremely risky and fraught with unpredictable consequences, he adds, urging a strict adherence to the UNSC’s no-fly-zone-over-Libya resolution, which stipulates protecting civilians from pro-Gaddafi forces’ air strikes.”
The statement came amid confirmed reports about the dispatch of British, French and Italian military experts to Libya, where they will be allegedly tasked with rendering logistical support to the rebels. This is a clear sign that the West is already taking sides in the ongoing civil war in Libya, analysts say.
Meanwhile, the UN’s aid chief Valery Amos has warned against accepting an EU offer of NATO military escorts to protect aid deliveries to Libya. She said that such escorts could put aid workers and the delivery of their supplies at unnecessary risk, right down to the killing of a UN or NATO representative. This may in turn be used as a pretext for the beginning of a ground operation in Libya, Amos said.
On Thursday, the United States asked Algeria for permission to use Algerian airspace for NATO military and transport aircraft in case of a possible ground military operation in Libya, according to Algeria’s Elkhabar newspaper. The Pentagon also asked Algeria to help assess the potential backlash from such an operation, not least al-Qaeda’s possible expansion of its North African clout, the newspaper reported. In the meantime, two US reconnaissance drones are making surveillance flights over the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which experts says may be of great help to Western experts who are now on their way to Libya.