Libya: Coalition Is Overstepping Its U.N. Mandate

Mar 29, 2011
Originally published on March 29, 2011 7:48 am
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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


Today, dozens of governments and international organizations meet in London. They are discussing the future of Libya, a future without Moammar Gadhafi.

INSKEEP: The meeting shows the hope of the international community, though overthrowing Gadhafi is not formally the goal of the military intervention there. Last night, President Obama offered an explanation of the U.S. role.

BARACK OBAMA: The task that I assigned our forces, to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone, carries with it a UN mandate and international support. It's also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter.

INSKEEP: And Lourdes, what is the government in Tripoli saying about the president's speech and about this meeting in London?

LOURDES GARCIA: So kind of political stalemate seems to be developing here. It's really unclear now how short of removing Gadhafi he will leave power. He's been consistently defiant, and despite a new plan apparently that would offer him exile, it is unlikely he'll accept and NATO action will have to continue while he's in control.

INSKEEP: So his allegation is that NATO is actively helping the rebels. And whether that is strictly true or not, the rebels certainly do seem to be advancing lately.

GARCIA: The rebels are ill-trained. They have no command structure. They're ill- equipped. What has helped advance so far are the airstrikes. But should NATO be the rebel air force?

INSKEEP: So that's one of the questions that we're waiting for an answer for. Another has to do with what is happening in the West, where Tripoli is, where Gadhafi still controls most of the cities but not quite all. And if I'm not mistaken, Lourdes, you were taken to a city that Gadhafi claimed to have recaptured in the West.

GARCIA: Let me play you a little bit of tape.


GARCIA: As you can hear, the city is far from being in government hands. It was an utterly surreal scene. We were taken to this small sliver that the government controls inside Misrata, and it was just a scene of utter devastation. The intent was to show the foreign media that Misrata had been liberated. But what we saw, as happened so often with this these propaganda tours, was directly the opposite. There were gun battles taking place while we were there. We were only allowed to stay for about 20 minutes and then we were told it was unsafe and we had to leave. The bus carrying us was peeling away so fast it actually almost left some journalists behind.

INSKEEP: Lourdes, thanks for your observations.

GARCIA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.