Regime change in Libya may require involvement in ground war

(By Deutsche Welle) Coalition airstrikes against Gadhafi’s forces have stopped his advance toward the opposition stronghold of Benghazi. However, ousting Gadhafi from power may require directly supporting the opposition in a ground war.

After weeks of deliberation, the international community has intervened militarily in Libya. France, Britain and the US launched airstrikes against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime over the weekend, the opening salvo of a UN-sanctioned military operation designed to stop Gadhafi from targeting Libyan civilians.

Although Admiral Mike Mullen – head of the US Joint Chiefs – said the initial strikes halted Gadhafi’s advance toward the opposition stronghold Benghazi, the strategic endgame remains unclear. Limited airstrikes may stop Gadhafi from committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. But if the international coalition wants regime change in Libya, then active participation in the ground war may become unavoidable.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague and members of the US Congress have already discussed sending weapons to the opposition Transitional National Council. However, an arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council against Libya complicates the prospect of shipping military hardware to the country. And the White House, unsure of the Libyan opposition’s goals, remains reluctant to get pulled into what could be a protracted ground campaign.

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