First Published: 2011-03-23

 

War without end: US sees no 'timeline' for Libya operation

 

US Defence Secretary says outcome of Libya conflict remains unclear, to last longer than weeks.

 

Middle East Online

Anything-goes type of war

CAIRO - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday there was no "timeline" for when UN-backed military operations in Libya would end, and that the outcome of the conflict remained unclear.

Speaking during a visit to Cairo, Gates said the UN Security Council resolution that authorised a no-fly zone was "not time-limited" and that it was unrealistic to expect military action to be over in a matter of weeks.

"So I think that there is no current timeline in terms of when it might end," Gates told reporters.

The military intervention was designed to prevent Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi from using aircraft to attack civilians and supply his forces, and coalition forces would monitor the effect of the strikes, he said.

"I think we will be assessing this as we go along, in terms of when his capabilities to do those things to his people have been eliminated.

"But I think no one was under any illusions that this would be an operation that would last one week, or two weeks, or three weeks."

The Pentagon chief also said it was difficult to gauge the strength of opposition forces because they had grown out of popular uprisings.

"I think it's been very hard for us to assess that frankly," he said when asked about the effectiveness of the rebels.

In the unrest that had erupted before international military action, Gates said "it wasn't as though you had an alternative army moving back and forth across Libya."

Some who had initially joined the uprisings, including troops from military bases, appeared to have withdrawn in the face of the regime's crackdown, he said.

But the Western air strikes might bring them back into the fray, said Gates.

"A lot of people who were in opposition, who played a role in the early days, have hunkered down.

"And it may be that changed circumstances, where he (Gathafi) can't use his aircraft and where he's more challenged in using his armour, they return to the fight. But we just don't know that."

Gates said the outcome of the conflict remained unclear, and that it was possible that more figures in Gathafi's regime could turn against him or even members of his own family.

"I think there are any number of possible outcomes here and no one is in a position to predict them," he said.

Possible scenarios included "further defections within his own ruling circle" or "divisions within his family."

His comments came on the fifth day of UN-backed military strikes against the Libyan regime as Gathafi vowed his country was "ready for battle."

Early Wednesday, CNN reported coalition air strikes were launched overnight near the city of Misrata, east of Tripoli.

Rebels said they had been under intense attack in their Misrata enclave, which has been besieged by Gathafi forces for weeks.

President Barack Obama faced fierce criticism over the US role in Libya.

Under pressure to bring US military strikes to a quick conclusion, Obama assured Univision television Tuesday that "the exit strategy will be executed this week" -- but made clear US forces would not really "exit" the conflict.

"We will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment. We will still be in a support role, we'll still be providing jamming, and intelligence and other assets that are unique to us," he said.

"We put in place strong international sanctions. We've frozen his assets. We will continue to ply a whole range of pressure on him," he added.

 

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS

Isolated US defiant at UN Security Council

Putin to visit Turkey for talks on Jerusalem, Syria

Protests sweep Muslim world over Jerusalem

US urges Saudi to show caution in regional disputes

Thousands march in Istanbul to protest US Jerusalem move

Bahrain Shiite leader undergoes surgery

Malaysians, Indonesians protest US move on Jerusalem

EU, Jordan voice backing for Palestinian state

Clashes in West Bank over US Jerusalem move

Macron appeals for calm over US Jerusalem embassy move

World leaders to 're-legitimise' Lebanon PM at Paris talks

Iraq forces launch new push against IS desert holdouts

Iran cleric urges new intifada against 'occupying regime'

Heavy Israeli deployment ahead of Friday prayers

Saudi crown prince ‘bought’ $450 mn Da Vinci

Trump Jerusalem ploy sparks Palestinian protests

States pledge action, condemn Libya slavery

UN says Syrian males caught in ‘vicious cycle’ of sex abuse

Jerusalem move awkward for Arab allies of US

Niger repatriates nationals from Libya

Russia says mission to defeat IS in Syria ‘accomplished’

Jerusalem recognition brings little change and big risks

Qatar agrees to buy fighter jets from France amid Gulf crisis

Iraqi militia threatens US forces over Jerusalem provocation

Qatar wants to resolve Guft rift, but not at expense of dignity

World condemns Trump Jerusalem announcement

UAE ‘disappointed’ at inclusion in EU tax haven blacklist

Huthi rebels mount show of force in Sanaa

Syrian opposition pressured into accepting Assad

Yemen government forces retake Red Sea town