Gulf News editorial: Gaddafi will not be allowed to crush rebels - April 23, 2011

Sending foreign troops to support the rebels in Libya would be a grave mistake. Even if people agree that Libya would be better off without Muammar Gaddafi in power, committing troops on the ground to enforce that view would be a disastrous escalation of the Nato mission. It is important that the Libyan struggle is fought and won by Libyans.
But after almost two months of fighting, the emerging military stalemate in Libya has forced the Nato allies of the Libyan National Transitional Council to get much closer to putting their troops on the ground to back the rebels. The allies, led by France and Britain are frustrated that Gaddafi's government has not just crumbled away and solved their problem for them.
So while British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted on Thursday that deploying troops would be wrong, his Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK will send a team of 20 senior military advisers to Benghazi to help organise Libya's ramshackle rebel forces. Italy and France are about to do the same, so it is very likely that the rebels will end up with hundreds of foreign troops helping them, even if the troops are not strictly defined as fighting forces. For example, the European Union has announced that it was willing to deploy an armed force to escort humanitarian aid in Libya, which the Gaddafi government has said it would regard as a military operation.
It is likely that the civil war will not come to a neat end with a rebel victory, but the world will not allow Gaddafi to crush the rebels.
Therefore the allies need to prepare for a de facto division of Libya into two halves, in which their forces may not be on the ground, but will nonetheless be backing the rebels. In this very difficult situation, the allies will have to work hard to avoid mission creep.

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