The international community is scrambling to find a common strategy for Libya. A speedy military remedy is not in sight. The country's division may be better than using ground troops, says DW's Daniel Scheschkewitz.
There is no exclusively military solution for Libya. None other than Anders Fogh Rasmussen, head of the world's most powerful military alliance NATO, arrived at this striking conclusion after the Libya Contact Group met in Doha on Wednesday.
His opinion is food for thought for everyone after the meeting at a loss on how to proceed in the North African country. Hundreds of NATO airstrikes have not been able to dislodge the detested dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The rebels in eastern Libya can only hold their positions due to the military intervention.
The only way out of this impasse, which is becoming increasingly unbearable for the population, is political. An escalation of the airstrikes, which France and Britain have called for, would diametrically oppose the UN-mandated goal of effectively protecting the civilian population.
Italy's suggestion of arming the rebels makes just as little sense, as long as the opposition forces to Gadhafi are lacking military training.
So the only option left is to sustain the military pressure on Gadhafi and, at the same time, aim for a political solution. The ruler of Tripoli must be brought to give up his claims to power in the liberated areas of Libya.
At the same time, the rebels have to be put in a position to build up a parallel government structure, so that those regions they control are peaceful and safe. Oil revenues, organized with the help of Qatar, could contribute to this goal, while the international community consistently continues to ostracize the Gadhafi regime economically and diplomatically.
Then - and only then - will the Gadhafi regime slowly run out of air to breathe. A consolidated government of the opposition in an internationally secured protectorate in eastern Libya would indeed initially mean a division of the country. In the medium term, however, the oasis of freedom could spread across the entire country - particularly when Gadhafi's road to exile is paved in the background.
All of this cannot occur from one day to the next, though. Military forces and diplomats, but Libya's population in particular, are going to require a lot of stamina. This option is by all means better than a bloody war with ground troops.
Author: Daniel Scheschkewitz / sac
Editor: Rob Mudge