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Libya: The United States and Europe Discuss NATO Intervention.

Translated Thursday 3 March 2011, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Gene Zbikowski

In response to rumors, French Defense Minister Alain Juppé stated that such an operation was not “a short-term prospect” today. But discussions are indeed under way.

Confronted with the repression orchestrated by Colonel Kadhafi, the United States and the countries of the European Union (EU) are upping the ante and making declarations aimed at forging a common position vis-à-vis the regime in Tripoli. Barack Obama has broken his silence on the situation in Libya and is calling on the world to unite against “scandalous and unacceptable” violence. On the morning of Feb. 23, French Defense Minister Alain Juppé echoed Obama’s words.

Responding to his U.S. counterpart, Robert Gates, who, the previous day, had designated France and Italy as best placed to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, Juppé backed the course of action: “Sanctions of all kinds can be toughened,” he said, adding that “air space sanctions merit study” in particular.

While there seems to be agreement on both sides of the Atlantic on the rapid adoption of “concrete sanctions” (including the suspension of financial and economic relations) against those responsible for the repression, several questions have been raised as to the real intentions harbored by the United States and the European Union as to an intervention in Libya and the nature of that intervention.

The rumors of recourse to NATO for operations in Libya have been so strong that the French minister was forced to fine-tune: “Foreign military intervention in Libya is not a short-term prospect,” he stated, while wishing “with all his heart” that Kadhafi “is living his last moments as head of state.”

Now, intervention that is not for today may well be for tomorrow. And NATO will then be able fully to apply its new strategy, which was adopted at last November’s Lisbon summit: Playing policeman everywhere on the planet that the political decision-makers want.

While the general secretary of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, states that he has not “received any [such] demand,” it is already known that the EU is examining the possibility of “military intervention with a humanitarian goal.” According to an EU source, the question of this taking place under the authority the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, “is being studied.” The matter is to be studied in greater detail behind the scenes during the meeting of the European Defense Ministers in Budapest on February 23 and 24.

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