Permanent Representative to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Ivo Daalder today said 27 other NATO allies and the five partners that are part of the Operation Unified Protector, agreed that the operation in Libya is coming to a close.
“We took the preliminary decision to end the operation on October 31st. That’s exactly seven months after the operation started. The council will meet early next week for a formal decision.” -Mr. Daalder
He highlighted that NATO also decided to wind down its operations while continuing to monitor the situation inside Libya and be ready to act if necessary if civilians are threatened.
“So we’ll move to an over-watch role over Libya to make sure that the situation remains moving forward in a positive direction, that there are no threats to civilians or attacks on civilians.” -Mr. Daalder
He stressed that in many ways, it is a quite historic moment for NATO. He said it’s certainly a historic moment for the Libyan people, who have fought valiantly over the past nine months. NATO provided critical support to that effort to make sure that when it could, it could use air power to attack Qadhafi’s forces that were attacking civilians.
“As a result of that effort and particularly as a result of the efforts of the Libyan people, the future is now firmly in the hands of all of the people of Libya.” -Mr. Daalder
He highlighted that NATO played a critical role in that effort, , and the United States played an absolutely vital role in the NATO effort. He added that back last March when they led the effort to get a UN Security Council resolution to authorize the use of force, it was the U.S. that led the effort to take out the air defense system of the Libyans and to – of the Libyan air force to make sure that they could establish a no-fly zone and provide the air protection against civilians that were being attacked.
“As soon as that was done, we led the effort in NATO to make sure that NATO would take command and control of the operation, which happened on the 31st of March of this year, and made sure that the allies were sharing in the burden, both in terms of the strike missions but also in terms of enforcing the arms embargo and in terms of enforcing the no-fly zone, that they would provide the – most of the capabilities.” -Mr. Daalder
He cited that U.S. provided its unique capabilities – in particular, aerial refueling, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance, as well as search-and-rescue capabilities and leading efforts in the command and control system within NATO. He said that allowed the French and the UK and the Italians and the Belgians and the Danes and Norwegians and partners like Sweden and the UAE and Qatar to engage in military operations and to bring about the changes on the ground.
“And now that Libya is truly in the hands of the Libyan people, with the expectation this weekend of the declaration of the liberation of Libya, it is time for NATO to end the operation and to be completed by October 31st. So all in all, a great success for the people of Libya, a great success for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and a great success for the United States, which made these efforts possible. “ -Mr. Daalder