A leading strategic expert has warned that a no-fly zone over Libya might not stop attacks on civilians by the Gaddafi regime.
Hugh White, professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University, says while it will be very difficult for government forces to move their armoured vehicles around the country it would not be hard for individual soldiers.
“The risk that attacks on civilians will continue is is quite high,” he told ABC Radio on Monday.
The US, Britain and France have began pounding Libya with air strikes and missiles as part of UN-authorised action to stop Muammar Gaddafi’s bloody crackdown on a month-old anti-government rebellion.
The action has prompted the announcement of a second ceasefire by Tripoli.
The Arab League, which initially supported the no-fly zone, has now criticised the intensity of the attacks.
Professor White said the no-fly zone by itself was never going to be sufficient to achieve the modest strategic objectives of a UN Security Council resolution.
“The Arabs have woken up and discovered they have supported not just something which is meant to stop Gaddafi flying his jets but something which is going to involve air attacks on land targets,” he said.
“The politics is this are going to get pretty complicated.”
It was always going to be easy to establish a no-fly zone, Professor White said.
“What was going to be hard for the no-fly zone itself (is) to achieve the strategic objectives they have set themselves,” he said.