NATO embarks on final shot to topple Qaddafi

In its ongoing air offensive to unseat Muammar Qaddafi as Libyan ruler, NATO not only continues to pound his capital Tripoli night after night but early Sunday, June 19, bombed a residential building. According to government sources up to 9 civilians including two toddlers were killed. NATO first denied any intention of harming civilians, promised an investigation of the incident and regretted any loss of life. A spokesman identified the target as "a missile site" and finally admitted a coalition bombardment had caused civilian casualties.

The conviction is growing in the West – and not just in Arab capitals – that NATO's mission has been turned around from protecting civilians to the primary goal of overthrowing of Qaddafi. If the coalition's attacks drive Tripoli's citizens to rise up against him, so much the better. The trouble is that this tactic costs more civilian lives than the hostilities between Qaddafi's army and the rebels. It has also cost NATO Arab and African support which was granted when the operation began three months ago.
Addressing a meeting of international organizations in Cairo Saturday, June 18, departing Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said that finding a political solution is unavoidable. "It must be based on a ceasefire with effective international supervision, cessation of all hostilities and setting a transitional period."
He stressed that the "Arab attitude is based on protecting Libya's sovereignty, preventing its division and moving promptly to find a diplomatic solution."

Represented at the meeting were the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League.

The group issued a statement in Arabic underlining the importance of "accelerating the launch of a political process that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people."
There was no call for Muammar Qaddafi to step down as demanded by the US  and the powers spearheading the Libyan operation, Britain, France and Italy. The Arab League secretary's words also intimated disapproval of the violations of Libyan sovereignty.
Sunday, Moussa issued a second statement accusing NATO of overstepping the UN Security Council's 1973 Resolution authorizing its operation in Libya.
Last week, the head of the African Union South African President Jacob Zuma accused NATO of seeking "regime change" by" political assassinations" through war.
debkafile's military sources report: This chorus of recrimination from Arab and African quarters has not thrown the prime movers of the NATO drive in Libya off course.  Once the mission was recast as regime change, Qaddafi only had to hold on and survive in order to rob NATO of victory. Coaltion leaders have apparently determined not to let the Libyan ruler get away with it.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was recently quoted as stating that the coalition will expand its military drive against Qaddafi in the coming weeks and launch a large-scale operation to finally undermine his regime and topple him.
This comment has aroused grave concern in Washington, where both Republican and Democratic lawmakers suspect President Barack Obama of planning to involve the US military in NATO's final shot against Qaddafi – in the same way as he ordered US warships to fire Tomahawk missiles and US warplanes to drop bombs on Libya in the first two weeks of the war without seeking congressional consent.
The White House explained that US forces were only playing a support role in the mission after handing the lead role to NATO and the European powers.
Obama is now being warned that unless Libyan operations end this week or the White House gets congressional mandate, he will be in violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution. Congressmen fear he may expand this role – again without seeking their consent – and be drawn into what Berlusconi has termed the last weeks of the war.
debkafile's military sources report that the American navy's biggest and mightiest air carrier, USS George HW Bush, is currently deployed in the Mediterranean at the head of large US armada.

If President Barack Obama were to order this fleet to go into action against Qaddafi, thousands of US marines on their decks could join British, French and Italian marines in swarming on Libyan shores and capture the government-held cities of Sirte, Qaddafi's home town, and the capital, Tripoli.

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