No ‘mission accomplished’ moment for Cameron on Libya
One of David Cameron‘s first engagements when he comes back from the last leg of his twice interrupted holidays will be the Paris Conference next week. This is, of course, a moment for the allies who led the attack against the Gaddafi regime to bask in some sort of glory.
But there will be no “mission accomplished” style banner, no whisper of that sort of fateful self-congratulation that haunted President George W Bush for years after the Iraq invasion was completed. President Sarkozy is planning to call it Les Amis de Libya and a cast of international leaders will stand side by side with the Transitional National Council leaders to show them being brought into the international fold.
The assessment inside No. 10 is that strategically the war in Libya is over. It believes that the stalemate which the UN and others had been preparing for, the near-permanent partition that diplomats around the world were discussing in private, has been avoided.
There is a collective sigh of relief in Whitehall, the UN and some Nato capitals that there will not now be. They think, a need for a “mediating” role for international forces on the ground in Libya keeping the two sides apart and monitoring a ceasefire. One day we may discover something more about those plans that were worked up behind the scenes in recent weeks.
More from Channel 4 News: Libya campaign ‘initally a mess’ – Whitehall source
How long the mopping up takes and whether or not Gaddafi himself turns up soon is not knowable. One Whitehall source speculated that Sirte will be the Tikrit of this conflict, but in every other way Whitehall echoes to the cry of “this is not like Iraq.”
No.10 insists this was a conflict backed beyond dispute by a UN resolution, Libya is a country with a small population, much money, still plenty of infrasturcture intact at this point.
It is also, No. 10 emphasises, a place where the opposition forces have been tutored, guided, goaded by Britain and France and others to sign up to human rights, democratic rights, a policy against reprisals and a commitment to keep institutions like the police and civil service going. The world now waits for the guns to be silenced and the new rulers to deliver.
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