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Britain’s defence secretary, Liam Fox, sounded a little scripted in Misrata at the weekend when I asked him whether NATO’s airstrikes in Muammar Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte were staying within its remit to protect civilians in Libya.
“NATO has been extraordinarily careful in target selection.”
“NATO has been very careful to minimize civilian casualties.”
“NATO has stayed within its mandate throughout.”
It’s a mantra that NATO, and the countries that have contributed to its Libyan adventure, have had to learn well. They’ve been accused of stretching the legality of the mission “to protect civilians by all necessary measures” before.
But the problem with sticking to a script, is that the Libyan conflict hasn’t really progressed with any sort of predictable narrative since the fall of Tripoli on the night of August 23rd.
If the then rebels of the now ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) expected that internal insurrections would help them and they’d race into Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte and the other remaining holdout, Bani Walid, to a hero’s welcome, they were mistaken.