The World from Berlin 'International Community Forced to Intervene in Libya'

Germany is standing firmly on the sidelines as Britain, France and the United States conduct air strikes on Libyan installations in order to establish a no-fly zone over the country. Editorialists are on the fence about the new military action -- with some criticizing the UN for a seemingly arbitrary decision and others the government in Berlin for its abstention.

Rebel soldiers and civilians stand on tanks belonging to Leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces after an air strike, part of the UN-backed operation.
DPA

Rebel soldiers and civilians stand on tanks belonging to Leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces after an air strike, part of the UN-backed operation.


The United States, Britain and France renewed air strikes on Libya early on Sunday, extending a wave of attacks that have halted the advance of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and destroyed a building in the dictator's compound.

Western bombs on Sunday night destroyed a three-story building near the tent used by the dictator to receive official state visitors in the capital Tripoli. It remained unclear if anyone had been injured in the attack.

Both Britain and France are claiming that Gadhafi himself was not the target of the strike. According to the BBC, Britain's chief of defense staff, Sir David Richards, said the dictator was "absolutely not" a target. "It's not allowed under the UN resolution," he added. Only a day earlier, UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox had indicated that targeting Gadhafi could "potentially be a possibility."

Meanwhile, Libyan rebels have called for more foreign air strikes against Gadhafi's army, but stressed they do not want the mission to be extended to include foreign ground troops. "The committee rejects foreign troops on the ground, but we encourage the (aerial) bombardments of Gadhafi's army," Ahmed El-Hasi, a spokesman for the February 17 opposition coalition, told news agencies in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The rebels said their goal was to capture Tripoli, but that they wanted to achieve it without foreign offensive action. Gadhafi has warned both rebels and allied forces that he will not give in easily.

Oil prices remained above $102 (€72) a barrel following the bombings of the OPEC nation, heightening market fears of further declines in Libyan oil output.

Photo Gallery

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Photo Gallery: The Bombardment of Libya
German media commentators on Monday weigh up the pros and cons of the military operation. Some welcome Germany's resolute decision not to join its allies in the international coalition, while others argue that the mission was a difficult but necessary step and that Berlin's decision could have negative percussions for its foreign policy for years to come.

The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

"The international community's military strikes on Libya represent a historic turning point. The United Nations is no longer intervening solely in cases such as defending world peace or halting genocide. Both scenarios do not apply to Libya. For the first time, the UN has intervened in a case of civil war, and moreover has moved exceptionally fast and decisively. All of a sudden the UN seems unpredictable."

"Given the lack of clear criteria for war, there is no obvious strategic goal: Is it cease-fire, a change of leadership or even democracy? For this reason arguments have started on whether or not the air strikes are justified. When no one knows what they aim to achieve, no one can say what action is needed. The only explanation for the UN operation in Libya stems from the dynamic of changing regimes across North Africa."

"Difficult decisions on war and peace should not be taken arbitrarily. The international community must immediately clarify its criteria for intervening in national conflicts. Otherwise it will loose credibility by striking Libya but not Bahrain or Darfur."

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"The international community was forced to intervene in Libya because of the threat of massacre in Benghazi."

"It is imperative that the Arab states participate in the military operation. The Arab League urged the UN Security Council for a no-fly zone over Libya. That is not enough. Arabic pilots must also fight Gadhafi's troops. Only then will we see an end to the long-standing Arab argument that the military operation is the work of colonialists and crusaders seeking to tap into Libya's oil fields."

"If the West and at least some of the Arabic states take responsibility for the mission, then the rebels will have a chance of ousting Gadhafi. That will reduce the threat of civil war around the Mediterranean -- something which would destabilize the region for years to come. Meanwhile, the West could gain credibility in the Arab world."

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

"Has this coalition of states -- which Germany does not want to join -- imprudently gotten itself involved in an adventure which has nothing to do with it at all and has no effect on its interests? Even the German foreign minister must know that pathos about freedom and democracy, an approach which he had adopted -- at least up until Cairo -- only goes so far when an autocrat fights back with all his power. Well, Gadhafi has fought back. Those who retaliated were forced to weigh up the consequences of not taking action versus the consequences of an attack. The relapse into an Arabic ice age would not be less shattering or without consequences -- also for the West."

The conservative Die Welt writes:

"If the military action on behalf of the international military coalition in Libya is successful and rapidly topples Gadhafi, then the German chancellor and her foreign minister will have made the country's biggest foreign policy mistake since 1949. No German government has caused a similar diplomatic catastrophe: Clashing with close partners, ignoring the change of heart of its most important associate (France), and then, at the Security Council, forging a spontaneous community of values with Russia and China and even earning itself plaudits from Hugo Chavez. It would be pretty much impossible to send a stronger signal to the Libyan people about how unimportant they are to Germany."

-- Jess Smee

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