Sunday, May 1, 2011

NATO Denies Targeting Gaddafi


NATO claims the target of last night's strike was a command and control bunker, not a house as the Libyan regime claims. They denied having evidence of civilian casualties. NATO also will not reveal the aircraft used in the attack so that no country will bear sole responsibility. Libya denies that there are military facilities in the area of the strike.

It thus appears there was a NATO strike last night on a target whose nature is disputed between NATO and the Libyan government. The fact that NATO denies having caused civilian casualties and refuses to identify the country whose aircraft was used in the strike indicates a reticence towards killing civilians at all, never mind explicitly targeting them. This is inconsistent with the claims of the Libyan government, but consistent with NATO's behavior prior to the strikes. US and British defense officials also said last Tuesday that they consider Gaddafi's compound a legitimate target but are not targeting the leader himself.

President Obama also briefly left the dais at the White House Correspondents Dinner last night to receive the news, indicating he was not aware of such an allegedly high-profile strike beforehand.

Given the still-unclear nature of the situation, caution by analysts remains warranted. The missing piece of the puzzle is still not in place.

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