France And Britain Call For Expanded NATO Role In Libya

With the situation in Libya quickly moving toward stalemate, the two nations that pushed the US, the UN, and NATO to intervene in Libya are now pushing for expanding the mission:

PARIS — France and Britain urged NATO on Tuesday to intensify airstrikes against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces and called on the alliance to do more to shield noncombatants from loyalist attacks.

The remarks could well embolden rebels who have proved unable to hold on to terrain captured from loyalist forces in weeks of advances and retreats along the coastal highway leading westward from the insurgents’ redoubts in eastern Libya.

The comments by William Hague, the British foreign secretary, and Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister, also appeared to signal a rift within the alliance only eight days after it assumed command from the United States for the air campaign over Libya.


Arriving for talks in Luxembourg with other European leaders, Mr. Hague said the allies had to “maintain and intensify” their efforts through NATO, noting that Britain had already deployed extra ground attack aircraft. “Of course, it would be welcome if other countries also did the same,” he said. Like the Libyan rebels and the Obama administration, Mr. Hague urged Colonel Qaddafi to go. “Any viable future for Libya involves the departure of Colonel Qaddafi,” he said.

Mr. Juppé declared in an earlier radio interview: “NATO must play its role in full.”

“It wanted to take the operational lead, we accepted that,” he said. “It must play its role today which means preventing Qaddafi from using heavy weapons to bomb populations.” Currently, he said, the intensity of the air campaign was “not enough.”

The comments by the two ministers seem certain to embolden the rebels in eastern Libya who have called for the allies to hit Colonel Qaddafi’s forces harder. France, Britain and the United States sent their planes on the first sorties of the air campaign in Libya last month.

France was also the first country to recognize the rebel administration in Benghazi and, along with Britain, played a leading role in the diplomacy behind the United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing NATO airstrikes.

Mr. Juppé’s remarks seemed to underscore a broader frustration in the West and within the region that months after Arab uprisings toppled the autocratic leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, the clamor for democratic reform has stalled, with popular uprisings facing repression in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Libya and elsewhere.

Quite honestly, that outcome was to be expected at some point. The early successes of the protest movements in Tunisia and Egypt seem to have led many people to forget that when repressive regimes are confronted with threats to their rule, they tend to crack down. It’s not a happy thing, but it is reality and I’m not sure that it’s realistic to have a foreign policy that involves rushing to the defense of every protest movement that happens to be repressed by its government. As we’ve learned in Libya, intervention doesn’t mean that the rebels will succeed.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Meanwhile, Italy, who among NATO members prospectively has the most to lose from violent disorder in Libya, is happy to hold France, Britain, and the U. S.’s coats while we work.

  2. Meaning that Britain and France want the United States to take charge again and go Roman on Qaddafi. Well, otherwise, this war could spell the end of NATO. And I say good riddance.

  3. Southern Hoosier says:

    Whatever they are going to do, they had better do it quick before ‘Omar Gaddafi’ wipes out the opposition. Without the opposition, we have another Iraq on our hands. If we then want to get rid of ‘Omar Gaddafi’ we will have to go it alone with nothing but Western boots on the ground.