‘If NATO loses in Libya, the consequences will be enormous’ - lawyer

NATO has denied a top Libyan official’s claims that they are intentionally using their airstrikes to assist rebel advances. Meanwhile, international lawyer Franklin Lamb claims that if NATO loses in Libya, it will face enormous financial consequences.

­Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told the Associated Press on Thursday that NATO has intensified bombing during the last days is the "final phase" of NATO's air campaign.

“The aim of these attacks is to help the rebels to advance,” he claimed, adding that it will be civilians who will pay the price. “But I assure you, it will be another failure for them.”

Meanwhile, Franklin Lamb, from the Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace organization, says NATO will pay a price as well – in financial losses.

“If NATO loses, the consequences are enormous,” he said. “There are enormous – trillion dollar – financial consequences for those NATO member countries that are seen as aggressors and invaders here.”

But Lamb suggested that NATO will not launch a ground operation because of the potential for civilian casualties and because of negative international opinion.  

“The only thing they can do to possibly achieve victory is assassinate Gaddafi – and to do that, they might have to come in on the ground,” he argued. “I do not think this is going to happen. I think it would be a disaster. They cannot take the casualties and world opinion that would result from an invasion.”

A spokesman for the NATO military operation in Libya, Wing Commander Mike Bracken, insisted the alliance is not involved in ground battles. NATO is tracking the fighting between rebels and Gaddafi forces, though the main aim is protection of civilians, Bracken stressed.

NATO said Saturday it has begun ramping up its airstrikes on military targets in western Libya, where rebels are advancing through territory still largely controlled by Gaddafi's forces.

On Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reported that the alliance had targeted more than 2,700 military targets in Libya since its campaign there began.

"The momentum is against Gaddafi, his economic strength to sustain war is declining, his generals and ministers are deserting, the international community has turned against him," he claimed. "For Gaddafi, the game is over."

Meanwhile, a delegation of Libyan tribal representatives arrived in Egypt's capital on Thursday to negotiate with rebel leaders.

The people in Libya, meanwhile, are preparing for a possible ground invasion, Lamb said.

“Over a million have been armed. I have seen women, some older than 60 and one woman, 70, training. I think we are going to see a popular militia, a popular army emerge from the neighborhood if there is an invasion,” Lamb stated.

Andrew Gavin Marshall from the Center for Research on Globalization says that a ground invasion is quite likely, and that the process is already underway.

“There have been certain Western ground forces in Libya since before the NATO bombardment,” he said. “In early March the CIA, MI6 from Britain, special forces from both the UK and US were on the ground. And in April, France, Italy and the US agreed to send military advisers into Libya. And this drew a lot of parallels to Vietnam. First military advisers were sent, later the troops followed.”

He added that according to some reports, “a full-scale ground invasion [by the West] is being discussed. It may even be launched within the next few weeks. Other military sources in the US said they are preparing for the ground invasion by October.”