Friday, April 22, 2011

British MPs warn of Libya mission creep



British Royal Marine Commandos provide security for HMS Cumberland in port at Benghazi, Libya

Source: Press TV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/175980.html

The UK parliamentarians have warned the coalition government of 'mission creep' in Libya, increasingly citing the example of the US war in Vietnam.

The warnings come after Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that a group of British Army officers will be deployed to Benghazi, where revolutionary forces are based, in a mentoring role to help the opposition camp coordinate its attacks on Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi's troops.

“A number of experienced military officers would be sent to Benghazi to advise [opposition forces] on intelligence-gathering, logistics and communications. About 10 British and 10 French officers will make up a combined team run by a joint headquarters,” Hague claimed.

“The advisers will enable the UK to build on the work already being undertaken to support and advise the NTC [National Transitional Council] on how to better protect civilians," he added.

The decision has apparently been made after officials from countries engaged in the bombing campaign made it clear that the situation is becoming increasingly difficult.

Many believe military action is not securing the goal, which was the end of the Gaddafi regime, while more direct intervention would be unpopular at home and would breach UN Security Council resolutions on Libya.

The Security Council has voted for a no-fly zone to be enforced over Libya to prevent the regime's troops from bombarding civilians.

The British government's decision, however, provoked a political row at home with many members of parliament (MPs) citing the example of Vietnam, an open-ended and costly quagmire, Britain is required to avoid whatsoever.

"A lot of people will see this as mission creep, some of us as an inevitable outcome," said David Davis, a former Conservative home secretary.

"Sending advisers for a limited purpose is probably within the terms of Resolution 1973, but it must not be seen as a first installment of further military deployment. Vietnam began with a US president sending military advisers. We must proceed with caution," said the ex-Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell.

"This is clear evidence of mission creep. Now we are beginning to put military personnel on the ground, something that wasn't even discussed when we debated this issue," said MP John Baron.

In Libya, Gaddafi's foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi has said that deploying British military advisors to help rebel fighters would prolong fighting and harm chances of peace.

"We think any military presence is a step backwards and we are sure that if this bombing stopped and there is a real ceasefire we could have a dialogue among all Libyans about what they want - democracy, political reform, constitution, election. This could not be done with what is going on now," he said.

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