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Should Coalition forces be targeting Gaddafi?

Tim Montgomerie

15956715 Liam Fox's remarks about Coalition forces possibly targeting Gaddafi receive widespread attention in this morning's media (eg the Daily Mail and Mirror). The Defence Secretary said:

“There is a difference between someone being a legitimate target and whether we go ahead and target him. You would have to take into account what would happen to civilians in the area, what might happen in terms of collateral damage. We don’t simply with a gung-ho attitude start firing off missile."

Interviewed on Radio 4 this morning the Foreign Secretary William Hague was cautious about the compatibility of the UN mandate to protect the civilian population with targeting the Libyan leader. "It all depends how people behave," Mr Hague said.

The Sun is in no doubt that Gaddafi should be targeted:

  • "NO ONE is safe while the crazed Gaddafi rants and raves from his Tripoli bunker - while ordering paid foreign killers to 'show no mercy'.
  • NO ONE can trust a man who promises a ceasefire while launching bloody attacks on homes and hospitals as he sets about destroying rebel cities like Benghazi and Misrata.
  • NO ONE can ever again have dealings with a maniac who threatens revenge by blowing up passenger planes over the Mediterranean. Doubtless using the expertise he gained after ordering the Lockerbie atrocity."

Hague FCO long

Within his Today programme interview Mr Hague said he was pleased with the early progress of operations. Gaddafi's attempt to retake Benghazi had been thwarted, he said, and an immediate humanitarian tragedy avoided. 

He also said that too much had been made of Abu Moussa's comments. There was "no weakening" in the Arab League's support for action and he referred to the deployment of four jets from Qatar as confirmation of this.

William Hague has had a difficult three weeks with armchair critics attacking his handling of this whole affair. I've said previously that this was largely unfair and want to underline something I tweeted on Friday: ConHome's best sources have been emphasising William Hague's massive behind-the-scenes role in patiently lining up the critical UN Security Council votes. I hope his Libya critics will acknowledge this. I don't expect them to!

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