Analyst: Libya ground intervention ‘unlikely’

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The intervention of ground troops in Libya is unlikely and would run counter to the objectives of the Western coalition, Dominique Moïsi, founder and senior advisor at Ifri (French Institute for International Relations), told EURACTIV.

Asked to comment on the situation in Libya after the first five days of the enforcement of the no-fly zone by a coalition led by the USA, France and the UK, Moïsi said that the most important thing was that the rebel stronghold of Benghazi had been saved from an almost certain bloodbath by Muammar Gaddafi's troops.

Moïsi said that another important factor was the fact that the resistance of Gaddafi loyalists had been stronger than expected. But he ruled out a protracted scenario.

Asked if a ground operation would be needed if the air strikes failed to resolve the military standoff, he was categorical that such a scenario would not be the case.

"This would be completely contrary to our objectives. What we want to do in Libya is protect the population, then to reinforce the opposition, and the opposition itself should take the power. It's not for us to do that. We've learned the lessons from Iraq," he said.

Moïsi said he supported the French government's push for more decisive action by the international community, which materialised with the air strikes that began immediately after the Paris 'Summit for the support of the Libyan People', which French President Nicolas Sarkozy hosted on 19 March.

He was however critical of the involvement of French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, who was present at the announcement of President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to intervene in the Libyan civil war. Sarkozy's office has declined to comment on Levy's role in policymaking.

Moïsi recognised divisions between countries in the coalition and EU countries on the best way to deal with the Libya challenge, but said all of them were categorical that there could be no more dialogue with Gaddafi.

Regarding the special position of Germany, which abstained during the vote on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 authorising the enforcement of the no-fly-zone, he said that it had not had an impact on Franco-German relations.

He said that the so-called French-German engine of European integration had been suffering problems well before the Libyan crisis, and that the new problems may deepen divisions a little, but were not at their origin.

To read the interview in full, please click here (French only).

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