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'NATO not walking the walk in Libya'
Thu, 28 Apr 2011 04:10:30 GMT
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The humanitarian situation in the northern Libyan city of Misratah, the North African country's third largest, has been reported as alarming with many people in dire need of food, water and medical supplies.

Libyan revolutionaries say they have pushed back embattled ruler Muammar Gaddafi loyalists from the besieged city which has a population of over a million people. They said NATO's overnight airstrikes helped them push back the government forces.

Press TV has interviewed political analyst Christopher Walker regarding NATO's military intervention in Libya and whether the US and its allies are helping the Libyan people against a dictator or hurting them.

What follows is the text of the interview:

Press TV: Do you think that military option is actually working in Libya, or according to some we are looking at a stalemate in civil war in Libya only serving the interests of the US, France and Britain?

Walker:No, it is not working as well as people had hoped. In fact, the British foreign Secretary William Hague has just spoken of a potential long haul for the Western allies there. He was particularly speaking about the British and this is causing a concern I think amongst the British public. They certainly do not want to get stuck in another Desert War for a long time. So, there have been hopes, I think, that the operation would have been tougher from the NATO's side. Particular questions are being raised as to why America has not been using against Gaddafi's forces its notorious A-10 tank busting aircraft which could well have turned the whole war round.

Press TV: Why do you think the US has been holding off on that?

Walker:Yes, they have and that is causing concern amongst the other allies and the sign, I think, is that the whole of NATO is not totally united about how this war should be conducted and we are getting stuck deeper into some sort of stalemate. We have fighting going on in the west on the one city that is Misrata that is still being held in that part of the country by some of the rebels. But even there, everything is not certain and the port that has been their major supply line from their sympathizers outside has been actually closed for the last 24 hours by Gaddafi shelling. So it really is after all this time an unclear situation with the only straight prediction that anybody that could make is that it is a long way from over.

Press TV: Do you think that the military struggle will have to continue even as the alliance between NATO and the revolutionaries has started to fray, especially after a NATO attack on the revolutionaries, by mistake, and NATO of course refused to apologize for that earlier in the month?

Walker: Yes, I mean the rebels cannot do without NATO. They know that as soon as NATO held back its airstrikes in the early days you know you could measure Gaddafi's ability to advance without that cover. So it is a difficult relationship and it has got many straining points. I think we have emphasized the main one: there is a strong feeling on the ground in eastern Libya that for some reason NATO is talking the talk but not walking the walk.

These leaders like Obama and Cameron and Sarkozy are always saying we have got to get rid of this and do that and there must be democracy. Yet they just do not seem to be putting their full weight into it. It is never going to really be settled by airpower alone and certainly by an airpower that isn't itself running full revs. I think that another point that is becoming increasingly obvious is as the days go by, even with less than a hundred percent, NATO effort against Gaddafi, nevertheless, it is showing up the facts that at least in Libya they are prepared to do something against a dictator and a tyrant whereas in places like Bahrain they appear to be doing nothing and that is becoming increasingly diplomatically embarrassing for the West.

So altogether I think two months have gone now since this crisis has got into this situation and it is very hard to see what it is going to bring it to, there is no instant hope because the absolute stinking point is Gaddafi himself. The rebels will not talk if he is not going to leave power and he says he is not going to leave power.

Press TV: As you said, he is not going to leave power but what do you think is the way forward, an escalation in the war, the use of heavier weaponry to turn around the situation in Libya?

Walker: No, I mean that could be the way forward but I am not sure it will happen. Whether there is the will for it from the public in the NATO countries. Do not forget some NATO countries leading ones like Germany want nothing to do with this operation at all. They are not even taking part in it. So this division is within NATO and I tend to think that at the end of the day if we were having this conversation, let's say God forbidden, in another two or three months that at the end of the day there is going to have to be some sort of international diplomacy and maybe somebody like Turkey will play an important role in trying to, if not bringing the sites together, at least sort of hammer out some sort of possibility. It seems an awful nightmare as this tragedy should go on and on with more and more civilians being killed.

Press TV: You spoke of divisions among the ranks of NATO member states, do you think that alliance with the NATO continue with what it is doing with Muammar Gaddafi resorting to different kinds of tactics of military fighting and at the same time some NATO member states covertly selling weapons to the revolutionaries?

Walker: Yes, I think they have to continue. They have got this open-ended UN resolution 1973, they have got they pledged themselves and to defend civilians. So as long as Gaddafi is killing civilians like years it is impossible to see the NATO military efforts are folding up. They could not possibly claim that they have succeeded. I mean it is plainly obvious they have not. There is report all the time of violence continuing. I think there might be another slight change is what William Hague the foreign minister of Britain was on the BBC this morning for a major interview and he appeared rather unwilling to totally deny that Gaddafi himself could be a target and we have that sort of remark buying the fact that the US has deployed armed unmanned predator drones which have the ability to seek out targets and go into them.

This could be a change of tactic because frankly if you speak privately to political and military leaders in the West, they say with Gaddafi there, there is no real chance of this coming to an easy end because this is not only Gaddafi. We have talked many of him today and the people often do but he has got this strong family about him, his sons who far from being sort of incompetent playboys have proven themselves to be very tough military and intelligent leaders.

Press TV: What role is Qatar playing in Libya?

Walker: Qatar is playing a forward role this is largely because it doesn't appear to have any large domestic problem of its own.

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