Libmonster ID: UK-1341
Author(s) of the publication: E. I. DOROSHENKO

E. I. DOROSHENKO, Candidate of Philological Sciences Leading specialist of MIA "Russia Today"

Keywords: Libya, UN Security Council Resolution 1973, NATO military operations, humanitarian intervention

Operation Unified Protector, one of the largest operations in the history of the last NATO military campaign in Libya, began on March 31, 2011. The general conceptual basis for it was the "Responsibility to protect" doctrine adopted by the UN. Probably, this circumstance also determined the choice of the name of the operation: in the phrase "Unified Protector", the last element," defender", corresponds to "to protect" - "protect", in the name of the doctrine, and "unified"," united", in turn, indicates a mixed composition of the forces involved.e. in this case, the role of NATO as an "alliance" or "association" is emphasized [1].

According to Florence Gob of the European Union Institute for Security Studies-EUISS (France), author of the monograph "The Alliance and Libya: a reassessment of Operation United Defender", these military actions were in many ways a "first experience" for both NATO and the United States: in particular, the "duty to protect" for the first time It was implemented in practice in order to support the civilian population of Libya in the fight against the "deadly regime" [2, p. 3].

UN Security Council resolution 1973, which, as Gob notes, provided for three measures of a "military nature": ensuring compliance with the arms embargo, establishing a no-fly zone and actually "protecting civilians", became both a concrete guide to action for the Alliance forces and a subject of significant controversy. On the one hand, the resolution prescribed the exclusion of" foreign occupation in any form", thereby limiting military intervention to actions from the air and sea, and on the other, it left a wide space for interpretation of the provision on" protection of the civilian population " [2, p. 4].

It was the ambiguity of the wording of the last point, according to Jeremiah Gertler, an American expert in the field of military aviation, that became the main cause of controversy: "Reportedly, the biggest stumbling block [was the question of] how much freedom of action will be given to NATO forces to protect civilians and their places of residence, in accordance with the UN Charter. paragraph 4 of resolution 1973. According to reports, French officials insisted on maintaining the possibility of attacking ground forces, viewing them as a threat to civilians, while their Turkish counterparts loudly protested against any harassment of ground forces. Germany, a NATO ally, [also] contributed to increasing tensions within the Alliance by first abstaining from voting on resolution 1973 in the UN Security Council, and then, protesting the fighting in principle, withdrawing all its naval forces stationed in the Mediterranean from NATO command. ...Even though the Allies seemed to have come to an agreement on military involvement, some of the aforementioned differences may still show up during the campaign " [3, p. 16].

It is also worth noting that the views and actions of the Alliance members were largely determined by political considerations. For Germany, for example, any military actions in Libya were "completely unacceptable", and for the United States, questions of their scale and duration were directly related to state law. Thus, in accordance with American law, the president "is obliged to enlist the support of Congress for the involvement of the US armed forces in a military campaign lasting more than 60 days without a direct declaration of war" [2, p. 4].

A way out, however, was found: the White House said that the operation in Libya cannot be considered a proper "war" for the reason that "[the armed forces] The United States plays a limited and supportive role in the international coalition... US operations do not involve either prolonged combat operations or an active exchange of fire strikes with the United States.

page 24

neither the presence of U.S. ground forces [in Libya], and therefore the [mission] of the United States ... it does not pose a serious threat and [excludes] any significant possibility of escalating into a conflict involving the aforementioned forces" [2, p. 5].

The main problem, however, was not the" vagueness "of the wording of the UN resolution itself, which authorized Member States to" ... take all necessary measures... (emphasis added) to protect the civilian population and their places of residence under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya", nor the particular political consequences "missions" for individual members of the NATO coalition, although both of these factors are certainly very significant [4, p. 3].

In fact, of much more serious importance was the fact that both to ensure compliance with the arms embargo, and to establish and maintain a no - fly zone over Libya, and, of course, to "protect the civilian population" of the country as a whole, very specific measures were required-military actions. This practical need to comply with the UN Security Council's instructions later became one of the most tragic components of the "Libyan scenario".


In fact, all these "practical measures" provided for in resolution 1973 were a continuation of the sanctions imposed by the UN against Libya within ten days after the start of the opposition protests in Benghazi. Resolution 1970 of the UN Security Council of February 26, 2011 decided to transfer the case "on the situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in the period from February 15, 2011" to the International Criminal Court( ICC), establish an arms embargo, as well as a travel ban and freeze the assets of a certain circle of persons [5]. The tone of the prescriptions is also changing: if resolution 1970 refers to taking the necessary measures "to prevent direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya... weapons and related materiel of all types" [5, p. 3], then resolution 1973 already refers to "ensuring strict compliance (emphasis added) with the arms embargo" [4, p. 4].

Commenting on this change in wording, Martin D. Fink, who served as an Assistant Legal adviser at the headquarters of the Joint Command of NATO Forces in Naples during Operation United Defender, notes: "First of all, [this change] It authorized all [UN] Member States, as well as any international or regional organization / coalition, to implement [measures to enforce] an arms embargo on the high seas against any ships, including aircraft, thereby putting NATO in charge of all military operations. Second, [thus] the Security Council authorized the use of force to enforce the sanctions regime" [6, p. 243].

The UN "arms embargo" in practice meant the creation of a naval blockade around Libya, which was carried out by the NATO military forces, who were given the right to stop and inspect any ship heading to a particular Libyan port. According to M. D. Fink, in the period from March 23 to October 2011, i.e. by the end of Operation United Defender, "3110 vessels were stopped by the NATO naval forces, 296 were searched [with disembarkation]. Another eleven were refused entry or exit from Libyan ports" [6, p. 238].


Paragraph 6 of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 "decides to impose a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect the civilian population" [4, p. 3]. Paragraph 8 of the same resolution "authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, acting independently or through regional organizations or take all necessary measures to ensure compliance with the flight ban imposed by paragraph 6 above, when necessary... " [4, p. 4].

At first glance, this wording does not directly refer to the alleged military actions. However, back on March 1, 2011, more than two weeks before the resolution was adopted, General James Mattis, then head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), described the upcoming tasks as follows: "We will have to neutralize the air defense forces [of the enemy] in order to establish a no-fly zone. So-no illusions - this will be a military operation. [Its meaning] is not simply to ban people from flying planes" [3, p. 9]. No less eloquent was the then US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on the same issue: "Let's call a spade a spade: the no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya in order to destroy [its air defense systems]. Only then will it be possible to fly over the country without fear that our pilots will be shot down. But this is the beginning" [2, p. 5].

The UN resolution still allowed "Flying over the country", albeit selectively: "The ban imposed by paragraph 6 does not apply to flights performed exclusively for humanitarian purposes... as well as to other flights deemed necessary for the benefit of the Libyan people (emphasis added) by States acting within the powers granted in paragraph 8 ..." [4, p. 3 - 4].

So, on March 19, 2011, following the requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 on the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya, the United States and allied forces launched Operation Odyssey Dawn, starting with strikes on Libyan air defenses and air bases. A few days later, Admiral Samuel Locklear, who headed the US Navy in Europe, announced the destruction of Gaddafi's long-range systems and aircraft [2, p. 6].

This task was easier for NATO to complete than expected, despite the fact that the Libyan air defense system was among the best in Africa, second only to the United States.

page 25

Map of the extended no-fly zone over Libya, March 24, 2011

Egyptian [2, p. 6]. The main challenge now was the Government's command and control system, as well as the fact that the remaining helicopters available to the Libyan army, which were harder to detect because of their ability to fly at lower altitudes, could be used by the "illegitimate regime" to launch attacks on the opposition, and therefore the civilian population was still in danger. hazards [2, p. 5-7]. In addition, it was now necessary to maintain the established no-fly zone over Libya, which implied control over significant territories (see map).

However, the main reason for the continuation and expansion of hostilities was that, according to analysts, "no aircraft has ever captured or held territory", so "although the Air Force played a key role in Operation United Defender, the war [as a whole] cannot be won from the air" [2, p. 8]. In the general context, this meant that the establishment and maintenance of a no-fly zone itself was not sufficient to fulfill the super-task of protecting civilians*, so it required the involvement of ground forces in the campaign [3, p. 3]. Since NATO had to comply with the UN's unequivocal ban on occupation (paragraph 4 of Resolution 1973: "...but excluding the possibility of foreign occupation forces in any form staying in any part of the Libyan territory" (italics added) [4, p. 3], the rebels now acted as infantry for the Alliance [2, p.8].

The Western researcher F. Gob described the participation of these armed groups in the operation "United Defender" as follows:: "In most of the analytical materials, there is not a word about the ground component of the operation... because [these forces] were not under the direct command of NATO. Nevertheless, armed units that were more or less subordinate to the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) were indeed formed. These detachments, combined with external forces that loosely interpreted Resolution 1973..., [and became] the ground forces that not only took part in the decisive battles, but also suffered the most significant ones... losses" [2, p. 8] (italics of the author).

Thus, neither the blockade from the sea, nor the destruction of Libyan air defense systems and aircraft in the framework of Operation Odyssey Dawn, NATO's military actions in Libya were not limited. In fact, the "United Defender", as a set of military measures directed, coordinated and implemented by NATO forces, which in practice led not to the extinction, but to the expansion of the conflict in Libya, should be considered a "mission spread", similar to the earlier Iraqi and Afghan scenarios.


On March 27, 2011, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen officially announced the launch of Operation United Defender, in which the Alliance's forces were transferred to the United States at the disposal of the Joint Command Headquarters in Naples. In his speech, he emphasizes that NATO now has to expand the range of its mission, and this, in turn, implies the implementation of all military aspects of UN Security Council resolution 1973, including the protection of civilians and their places of residence through possible air strikes against ground forces loyal to Gaddafi [3, p. 17] (emphasis added by the author).

Here, as in many previously cited documents, the provision on "protection of the civilian population" is key. Apparently, this is the same global "noble goal" around which the UN doctrine of the "duty to protect" is built, described by the director of the UN Information Center in Moscow A. S. Gorelik as "a new concept in international law". According to him, the meaning of "this innovation ... The problem is that when the international community sees that in a particular country, the government is not only unable to keep the situation under control

* The Commander-in-Chief of the US Air Force, General Schwartz, already on the day of the adoption of resolution 1973, said that the no-fly zone itself "will not be sufficient measure" to turn the situation in favor of the opposition forces, given the recent successes of the Libyan army [3, p. 3] (author's note).

page 26

(and [in Libya] it's out of control), but also the government itself can't... to stop some massive human rights violations or war crimes, or even participate in them, the international community can intervene... " [7] (emphasis added by the author).

In the context of the well-known consequences of NATO's actions that fulfilled UN regulations in Libya, two legitimate questions arise: first, to what extent did this goal justify the means used, and, secondly, for the sake of which part of the population the multidimensional campaign was conducted, which created a sad precedent both in international law and in interstate relations? In other words, was the humanitarian intervention designed to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population a "stranglehold", and was the credibility of the opposition forces that presented themselves as "democratic" too great?

A study conducted in 2013 by Alan Cooperman, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, casts doubt on the statement of Admiral James G. Stavridis, the Supreme Commander of the NATO Joint Armed Forces in Europe, that the humanitarian intervention was "ideal", "exemplary" [8, p. 105]. When asked whether the main goal of NATO was to protect civilians, Professor Cooperman writes: "It is possible that the NATO intervention in Libya [initially] was behind it ... the desire to protect civilians, in accordance with the powers [granted to the Alliance] By the UN Security Council. However, just a few weeks after the start of the military operation, as the facts show, this initial intention was transformed into the goal of overthrowing the Gaddafi regime, even at the cost of causing more harm to peaceful Libyans " [8, p. 113]. The main arguments of A. Kuperman in support of this version are as follows::

- the Alliance forces attacked retreating units of the Libyan army, which, in addition, were far from the civilian population and did not pose any threat to them. At the same time, NATO bombed Gaddafi's military units stationed in his hometown of Sirte, whose population fully supported the government, and, therefore, was not under threat from his army.;

Instead of seeking a cease-fire, NATO and its allies provided assistance to the rebels, who rejected a peaceful solution to the conflict [in principle], focusing on the overthrow of [the regime of] Gaddafi. Such assistance to the rebels significantly prolonged the war and increased the amount of damage to the civilian population, which directly contradicts UN regulations. ...So, by April 6, 2011, British Army and intelligence officials were already helping the rebels in Benghazi develop a command structure and establish the Ministry of Defense. In addition, NATO allies in the region-such as Qatar-were very active in the Libyan campaign. According to the Qatari chief of military staff, "hundreds of Qatari military personnel were present in every region [of Libya]," who were also "responsible for training and communicating" with the rebels.;

- it is no longer possible to find out whether the proposed cease-fire would have been observed by Gaddafi's forces... however, if the goal of NATO was really to protect the civilian population, the Alliance would provide assistance to the rebels only if they seriously consider the political decisions proposed by the government [8, p. 113-115] (emphasis added).

Further, when considering the issue of the authenticity of the democratic aspirations of the Libyan opposition, it should be remembered that this political dimension of the confrontation was also used by Barack Obama to justify NATO's military actions. In a statement on U.S. policy the day after the vote on resolution 1973, the American president emphasized: "If Gaddafi is not stopped, we have every reason to believe that he will show extreme cruelty to his own people. Many thousands [of people] may die. There will be a humanitarian crisis. The entire region can be destabilized, which will pose a threat to our allies and partners. Calls from the Libyan people for help [in this case] they will remain unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for will lose their significance. Moreover, the statements of the international community will turn into an empty concussion of air " [3, p. 3].

The same theme is also present in the speech of then-Senator and now US Secretary of State John Kerry: "The international community cannot stand idly by while violence is used against the march for democracy. ...The Libyan people are running out of time. The world must act immediately to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe" [3, p. 5].

The "march for democracy" literally refers to the demonstrations against the official government that began in eastern Libya in February 2011. However, can they be considered completely peaceful, and the regime's actions are unjustified and excessively cruel? According to the official point of view, the protest movement in Libya excluded violence, developing completely according to the peaceful scenario of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. However, according to Professor Kuperman, this is a dangerous generalization: Contrary to current reports in most Western media, many Libyan demonstrators were armed on the first day of the uprising, February 15, 2011, in Benghazi. Government forces initially used non-lethal weapons such as rubber bullets and water cannons. ...Gaddafi's security forces refrained from using lethal weapons until, over the next few days, the violent actions of the rebels spread [to other cities] and became more widespread.

..In Benghazi, the largest city in eastern Libya, protesters used small arms, bottles with a lighter-

page 27

with heavy weapons, bulldozers and explosive-laden vehicles to capture the [local] army garrison on February 20, just three days after the" day of wrath " of February 17.

..In the capital Tripoli on February 20, protesters provoked violence by setting fire to government buildings, thereby forcing Gaddafi's forces to act harshly " [8, p. 109].

Of course, the best proof of the validity of this opinion is the current situation in Libya, where the real power is still in the hands of armed groups of former "revolutionaries", members of the very "formations" that were once at the disposal of the NTC and enjoyed broad support from NATO, and the country itself today cannot be called a "state of victorious democracy". Consequently, it is hardly possible to conclude that it was the civilian population that really benefited from the NATO campaign, either in 2011 or three years after the start of the "Arab spring" in Libya.

* * *

Considering such multidimensional events of recent history as the 2011 NATO Libyan campaign in general, and Operation United Defender in particular, taking into account the preliminary decisions of the international community, we can only outline the main links and factors that influenced the development of the"Libyan scenario". It is no longer possible to say with certainty how the fate of Libya would have turned out if the " humanitarian intervention "had been limited to Operation Odyssey Dawn, without" spreading the mission "and transforming the original goal from" protecting civilians "to overthrowing the regime. It is very difficult to find out what the true, original interpretation of UN Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 is, and how far the "military" interpretation is actually from what was intended. According to A. S. Gorelik, " the very first moment when this resolution [on the no-fly zone] was adopted, and when the forces of Gaddafi began to be attacked, there were voices of various, including usually sober people, who, I remember, said: "Well, the duty to protect has finally started to work." In the end, everything turned out a little differently, to put it mildly... " [7].

Describing the consequences of the "humanitarian intervention", James Pattison, a political science expert at the University of Manchester, notes: "... the situation in Libya did not seem so serious as to be a sufficient reason for regime change or, more precisely, for violent regime change by external forces in support of the rebel movement. The risk of regime change tends to outweigh the [negative consequences] of a humanitarian intervention: possibly more casualties among [the civilian population], greater potential for destabilization of the surrounding regions, and greater losses among the military personnel of the intervening party due to the need for presence ... contingent of ground forces" [9].

It can also be assumed that one of the NATO miscalculations in Libya, which led to the "spreading of the mission", was a "cultural blunder", since there were no cultural advisers at the headquarters of the Alliance's Joint Command in Naples, and, consequently, there was no clear idea of the country itself, the identity of its government and population [2, p. 16]. The Alliance tried to fill this gap with the ideas of an "all-Arab culture" with a focus on the Persian Gulf countries, from which Libya differs significantly. As a result, "no one could have foreseen" the turn that Operation United Defender would take: "That Gaddafi would cling to power, that the Libyan army, for all its comparative weakness, would demonstrate amazing resilience and adaptability, and that the population of Tripoli would show obvious disinterest [at the moment when from him] an uprising was expected, but it turned out to be "surprises" ... uncharted territory" [2, p. 18].

It is obvious that over time, more and more documents will appear that complement the picture of the "Libyan scenario". Perhaps the only positive aspect to date is that the precedent created continues to serve as a lesson for the forces that are now determining the historical fate of another state - Syria, although, as the sad experience of Afghanistan and Iraq shows, this is not an absolute guarantee that this will not happen again. In any case, the iconic phrase "the world will never be the same again", which has become firmly established in the media since September 11, 2001, also applies to the events of 2011 in Libya.

1. See also: Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva M. S. The reverse side of the operation "United Defender" / / Asia and Africa Today. 2012. N 8. (Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva M.S. Oborotnaya storona operacii Obedincnnii zashitnik // Aziya i Afrika segodnya. 2012, N 8.) (in Russian)

2. Gaub F. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Libya: Reviewing Operation Unified Protector // Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Carlisle, PA. 2013 - download.cfm?q=1161

3. Gertler J. Operation Odyssey Dawn (Libya): Background and Issues for Congress // Congressional Report Service. 30.03.2011 -

4.Cit. Resolution 1973 (2011), adopted by the Security Council at its 6498th meeting, on 17 March 2011- 41 / PDF/NH2684l. pdf?OpenElement

5. Resolution 1970 (2011), adopted by the Security Council at its 6491st meeting, on 26 February 2011- 245/60 / PDF/N114560. pdf?OpenElement

6. Fink Martin D. UN-Mandated Maritime Arms Embargo Operations in Operation Unified Protector // Military Law and the Law of War Review. N 50/1 - 2, 2011 - http://darc.uva. nl/document/456665

7. Press conference by A. S. Gorelik, Director of the UN Information Center in Moscow, RIA Novosti. 23.10.2013 - 948574.022.html

8. Kuperman Alan J. A Model Humanitarian Intervention? Reassessing NATO's Libya Campaign // International Security. Vol. 38, N 1 (Summer 2013).

9. Pattison J. The Ethics of Humanitarian Intervention in Libya // Ethics and International Affairs. 25, 2011, N 3, p. 272,


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