Editor   06 May 2011   Brussels e-Briefings

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Brussels e-briefings host: Richard Werly
Date: 5 May 2011

Digest – Libya: a new beginning or the end for the ‘responsibility to protect’?

NATO in Libya and in Afghanistan after the death of Osama Bin Laden: serious challenges ahead.

Can the world's most powerful military alliance overcome the obstacles it is facing in Libya, where Colonel Gaddafi's regime appears solidly entrenched and able to resist air strikes for the time being? And what may the consequences be on the ground in Afghanistan, of Bin Laden's elimination by US forces?

To those questions, Richard Werly, Diplo fellow and Brussels-based correspondent for Le Temps, updated us live from Brussels, home of NATO's headquarters.

- His first assumption is that the Libya operation, though appearing to last longer than expected, remains on track. The Gaddafi regime appears to be more and more isolated, and not in a position to secure external support for long.

- The coalition is unlikely to crack as its grip tightens. The challenges ahead for NATO in Libya are therefore to plan for the future, making sure that the opposition - which will, sooner or later, replace Gaddafi's clan in Tripoli - delivers its promises of democracy. Rather than a military threat, and despite the sufferings of the civilian population in Misrata and Ajdabiya, NATO and the countries involved in the coalition are facing political challenges;  what happens in Libya will have a massive effect in the region.

- With regard to Afghanistan, there are no expectations of massive changes in the wake of Bin Laden's elimination. There might be a political impact in Kabul, as warlords once again realise that they can't survive for long if they decide to confront the US military. The simple fact that Bin Laden was finally killed might lead to some second thoughts in the Taliban's hierarchy, based in Pakistan and supported by the Pakistani secret services.

- Nevertheless, on the ground, the average Taliban fighter is a local and has grassroot support; corruption and lack of development are still hampering the emergence of a new Afghanistan. American forces, therefore, as they prepare to withdraw, have to exert maximum political pressure on the Afghan government to work on a credible, acceptable political solution. Bin Laden's fate does not change this reality: the only way out in Afghanistan is a political one.

Questions? Post a comment below, or e-mail Richard Werly at richard.werly@letemps.ch

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