Arab League chief: Goal in Libya is to protect civilians, not regime change
Amr Moussa – departing secretary general of the Arab League and Egyptian presidential candidate – discusses the no-fly zone intervention in Libya and Qaddafi's exit. He also touches on Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria and the future of Egypt's relationship with Israel and the Palestinians.
Amr Moussa is the departing secretary general of the Arab League and has declared his candidacy for the presidency of Egypt. He sat down on March 21 with Raghida Dergham in Cairo for the Global Viewpoint Network.Skip to next paragraph
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Raghida Dergham: Is this an open-ended military operation in Libya, whatever it takes?
Amr Moussa: Of course not, of course not. There is a resolution, 1973, of the Security Council that determines the mission and the goal. The goal is to protect the civilian lives, and once the goal is achieved, especially through a cease-fire and observers to the cease-fire are put in place, the mission will come to an end. The mission has the task of protecting the civilian population in Libya and against attack threats and against use of weapons, very severe weapons.
Dergham: When you criticized the application of the no-fly zone, some people wondered if you really meant it. Others went as far as using the word “hypocrisy.” What was the point of your statement?
Moussa: I meant what I said: The goal should be to protect Libyan civilians. Why did I say so? There were reports that civilian casualties started to appear as a result of the attacks by the coalition. As a result, I said that all civilian casualties and attacks that would affect the civilians are our concern – and that is why we needed to establish a no-fly zone and safe areas in the first place.
As for the idea “that there for different goals” beyond safety of civilians, this we have nothing to do with it. We are committed to the Security Council goals, letter and spirit according to what the resolution determines.
No-fly zone: no second thoughts
Dergham: When you went to Paris and endorsed the no-fly zone, you knew that there would be a military operation, and the Security Council resolution spoke as well of a “no-drive zone.” You did know that this would require bombings on the ground?
Moussa: I stressed at the time the necessity to protect the civilian population and that there are limitations by the Security Council; no land invasions, forces of occupation … etc. That there would be some military operations in order to paralyze the launching pads, this we understood. Even some Arab countries have decided to participate in this.
Dergham: Then you have no second thoughts about endorsing the no-fly zone, whatever it takes?
Moussa: No, there are no second thoughts on this. This is our initiative. The no-fly zone is the goal in order to protect the Libyan citizens. Respecting the resolution is also a commitment by us.
Dergham: What if Muammar Qaddafi decides to take a break from the military operations and then get back at it later. If this goes on for very a long time, do you think the coalition is ready to sustain its military operations for a very long time? Or is there a time limit that you discussed in Paris?