NATO united over need to end Gaddafi regime

NATO nations have stressed they are united over their main goal in Libya as foreign ministers met in Germany amid disputes over the alliance’s future involvement in the North African country.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that NATO members are "sharing the same goal, which is to see the end of the Gaddafi regime in Libya."

"We are contributing in many ways to see that goal realized," she said after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is not taking part in the military operation and abstained in the UN vote authorizing it.

The German leader echoed Clinton, stressing that Gaddafi’s retirement would help the development of freedom in his country.

The statements come as NATO demands that Gaddafi returns his troops to their barracks. The alliance regards it as a necessary condition for a stable ceasefire.

The effort to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya was yet another issue topping the foreign ministers' agenda at the two-day meeting.

It has been almost four weeks since the first air strikes on Gaddafi forces’ positions. On Thursday, Gaddafi’s anti-aircraft units allegedly attacked the coalition’s bombers in response to the resumed strikes on Tripoli.

Meanwhile, in Misrata 23 people are reported dead following Gaddafi forces’ morning attacks.

French officials, together with the UK, called for Washington to do more to ensure the mission's success, but the Obama administration insists the US will stick to its plan to remain in a supporting role.

Also, members of the alliance discussed what contribution each state needs to make, with only six out of the 28 involved conducting air strikes. The UK and France have been calling on other countries to increase military pressure on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Clinton is reported to have stressed the importance of using NATO military assets to go after pro-Gaddafi fighters attacking or approaching rebel-held positions and stepping up economic and political pressure on Gaddafi.

The foreign ministers of the US, Britain, France, Germany and Italy – a group known as the Quint – also plan to meet on the sidelines in Berlin with a focus on Libya.

­President Medvedev condemns NATO

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev speaking at the BRICS summit in China on Thursday lashed out at NATO for violating the UN resolution on Libya.

“The UN Security Council resolution on Libya is normal, but it should be implemented, not interpreted,” he stressed, adding that it’s become a “dangerous trend in international relations.”

UK Parliament member Barry Gardiner says that Britain was wrong to intervene in what is actually a civil war, and that unfortunately the terms of the UN resolution were broad enough to permit Britain and France’s intervention. 

“David Cameron thought that this was going to be an easy war for him to strut around on the world stage and show himself as a leader,” said Gardner.

“I think what he’s learned over the past couple of weeks is that war is never a simple matter,”

he said.

“It’s extremely difficult to predict what will happen on the ground, and what might seem to suit you politically one week can very soon turn around and bite you.”

­Former CIA counterterrorism analyst Michael Scheuer believes that the air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces have done all they can do.

“For the last week or so, they’ve continued to attack, and Gaddafi’s forces keep moving forward toward the resistance,” he said. “At the end of the day, there’s no way to get rid of Gaddafi, unless you put ground troops into Libya. And I don’t think the West is going to do that, and I think Gaddafi knows it. And so he is just planning to hang on.”

And while the US has handed over the lead role in the operation to NATO, Scheuer says, President Barack Obama is convincing no one with the move.

“I think he is fooling himself, at least in the Muslim world, because no matter how much we say NATO is in charge of this, NATO can’t put its shoes on without the United States’ help,” he said. “And so, in the Muslim world this still appears to be a US operation disguised to look like NATO, but it’s again the United States bombing a Muslim country that has oil.”