Thursday, April 21, 2011

Libya faces risk of "prolonged conflict": Italian expert

Silvia Marchetti

ROME, April 19, 2011 (Xinhua) -- The Libyan crisis faces the risk of turning into a "prolonged conflict" which will end up splitting the country in two, a leading Italian expert said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"I see no immediate solution to the conflict between NATO forces and the Libyan rebels on one side, and Muammar Gaddafi on the other. The ongoing civil war is fated to become an internal cancer that will destroy territorial unity and lead to a partition," Giuseppe Sacco, a professor of international relations at the Rome-based Luiss University said.

According to Sacco, Gaddafi will not easily surrender and will fight till the very end, while rebels of the Transitional National Council (TNC) will pursue a tough resistance. However, the rebels will not be able to oust Gaddafi from the country on their own.

"The rebels are militarily fragile and Gaddafi is strong and still enjoys wide territorial support. Why should he step down from power and go into exile when his regime has not collapsed yet? Since the defection of his foreign minister, nobody else of his entourage has abandoned him," Sacco said.

The only way to definitely defeat Gaddafi would be through intensified NATO military action, but that would clash with international diplomatic concerns and the rising divergent interests of the allies, the professor said.

"The best solution (for the West) would be that Gaddafi is killed during a raid, which sounds quite unrealistic for two reasons: first, it's hard to locate where he actually is; and second the rising opposition from the BRICS countries hinders the intensification of the military operations," he said.

In his view, the NATO operation was a form of new colonialism and the raids could not continue forever. World nations knew this well and they must be careful in not pushing it too far. Their intervention was justified by the many civilians allegedly killed by Gaddafi, but "are we sure there were really so many thousands of deaths as the Western media has reported?" he said.

The professor therefore ruled out the possibility that Western countries might sell weapons to the rebels or deploy ground troops. A possible exit strategy from the crisis would be through intense negotiations, which, however, would simply lead to "a division of territory and natural resources between the TNC and Gaddafi, monitored by the interests of Western nations."

Sacco also expressed doubt about the support and legitimacy of the recognition of the TNC by several Western nations, including Italy.

Three different components made up the rebel movement and needed to be considered separately when referring to the Libyan rebels, Sacco said.

"It is not true that all these rebels are friends of the West," he said.

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