Friday, October 21, 2011

Questions to U.S. NATO Ambassador Ivo Daalder On NATO Operations in Libya

Ilhan Tanir with Vatan Daily, your line is open.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Ambassador, for your insightful remarks.  I have quick two questions.  One is, if I am not mistaken, you stated that 31st of October is the end of the NATO mission.  After that point, how you are going to oversee the situation that you described if there is civilian attacks?  You are going to confront these attacks?

And my two – second question is:  Many argue in the past there’s a roadmap from Libya operation for future operations.  My question is:  Since things are going very badly in Syria, do you think there are lessons for us to take from Libya operation going forward for Syria?  Thanks so much.

AMBASSADOR DAALDER:  I appreciate both of your questions.  With respect to what would happen after the NATO operation ends on – which we expect to end on the 31st of October, part of the assessment that our military commanders have made and we are making in the North Atlantic Council, which will ultimately make the decision, is the degree to which the Libyan authorities are now capable of providing the protection to civilians.  And it is our view that civilians can now be protected by the NTC, the National Transition Council, and soon the governing authorities in Libya.  And there is no requirement anymore for NATO aircraft to provide that capability.  There isn’t an organized loyalist opposition anymore that is capable of massing forces in big quantities and threatening civilians.  And to the extent there are still threats, folks who can threaten civilians, the NTC and Libyan authorities will be able to take care of that.  So that’s our judgment, and that’s the reason why we moved toward – to ending – winding down the operation and ending it by the end of the month.

With regard to what the Libya operation may mean for the future and whether it’s a model, each case, of course, is unique.  There were very unique circumstances with respect to the Libya case.  NATO early on made very clear that in order for NATO to involve itself in this operation, there needed to be a demonstrable need for military action, strong regional support, as well as a sound legal basis.  And those three criteria came together in late March when the Arab League decided that it was necessary, in their view, to establish a no-fly zone and requested the UN Security Council to provide a mandate for such action.  And of course, the kind of threats that were being – and attacks that were being waged by Qadhafi’s forces against the civilians in Libya, in Tripoli and the threat that was being posed in Benghazi, showed there was a demonstrable need.

In the case of Syria, there clearly is attacks by government forces on civilians.  But it’s also clear that the opposition forces as well as the Arab League do not think it is a good idea for outsiders to intervene and they are strongly against that.  Nor is it clear that intervention on the outside would have the desirable effect.

So each case is unique.  In the case of Syria, the situation needs to be resolved by the government ceasing its attacks on civilians.  And the government, in fact, has lost its legitimacy and now needs to step aside.  Military force is not the answer in all circumstances and it’s probably not the answer in this circumstance.

QUESTION:  I understand, sir.  I have a very quick follow-up.  There are some serious allegations that Syrian regime behind the latest PKK terrorist attacks in southeastern of Turkey, and now Turkey sent some 10,000 troops, according to some news reports.  Do you think if these allegations are proved to be true, would this be one of the members of the NATO is being attacked by another country?  Would it be everything – can this (inaudible) within this framework?

AMBASSADOR DAALDER:  I’m not familiar with the information.  I just haven’t been – been focused too much in the last few days on what’s happening in Libya, and I’d just rather not comment on hypotheticals.  Turkey, of course, is a strong and valuable member of the NATO alliance, and we are committed to the security of Turkey.

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