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NATO allies vow to build ‘pressure’ on Gadhafi
Published on 15 Apr. 2011 11:24 PM IST
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It’s only part of a sentence, a vague declaration of intent, but Libya’s rebels will be pleased with one specific phrase in the open letter published on Friday by the leaders of Britain, France and the United States.
The text repeated many of the familiar warnings that Colonel Moammar Gadhafi must leave power, and reiterated the NATO mission to protect civilians. “However,” the letter adds, “so long as Gadhafi is in power, NATO and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds.”
It’s the last part of the sentence, suggesting an escalation in efforts against Col. Gadhafi, that will encourage the rebels. They have been calling for stronger military action in a variety of forms: deployment of U.S. ground-attack aircraft, such as A-10 Warthogs or AC-130 Spectre gunships; supplies of anti-tank missiles capable of defeating Col. Gadhafi’s upgraded T-72 tanks; even, optimistically, the use of NATO attack helicopters.
Nobody thinks the rebels will get helicopter support, but pressure is growing for greater U.S. air power. An editorial in the New York Times on Thursday called for the A-10s and AC-130s to join the battle, and reports suggest that British and French officials are pushing their U.S. counterparts on the subject.
Other NATO members are also facing calls for greater contributions, as the air strikes are being conducted by only six of the alliance members, including Canada. So far, however, no official statements on the subject have emerge on Friday from a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin.

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