Paul Smyth spent 25 years in the RAF and two years at RUSI before creating R3I Consulting.
Nato took responsibility for the air campaign over Libya on 31st March. Since then, about 28% of the targets struck have been in or near Tripoli and this area has seen attacks every day since 4th June, sometimes in daylight hours, sustaining the pressure on the Tripoli-based regime. As Gaddafi’s dictatorship becomes more vulnerable the imperative for a post-Gaddafi plan becomes acute. Whilst staff from DfiD and other government departments consider what happens next in Libya alarm bells should be ringing that Britain is manoeuvring itself into a position on Libya it has neither the obligation nor right to take.
With France, the UK may have been at the vanguard of international efforts to intervene in Libya but this is not ‘Britain’s war’. Despite the tone of British reporting and the cause celebre Libya has become for some leading politicians the conflict remains a UN-mandated, Nato-led operation and it is that coalition, not individual nations within it, which has a responsibility to safely establish the next Libyan regime.
Efforts to create a stable post-Gaddafi state in Libya must include a number of nations that have played little or no role in the military intervention. Germany, Egypt and Turkey, for example, have significant contributions to make to long-term stability in Libya and they cannot, indeed must not, be excluded on the basis that the post-fight dinner is only for those who had been in the ring. For instance, in times of budgetary stress can Britain reject the value of German economic power, however jealously the UK might view Libya’s future prosperity or feel it has the right to dictate events in Tripoli? A peaceful and stable outcome in Libya is more important than who brings it about.