Preparing for a Post-Qaddafi Regime

Brussels—All 28 NATO defense ministers agreed to extend operations in Libya for another 90 days and to provide the necessary capabilities to complete the mission, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters Wednesday during a briefing at NATO headquarters here. At the same time, the alliance’s defense leaders began planning for a “post-Qaddafi” nation, saying it’s become evident that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi no longer has the support to remain in power. “It’s no longer a question of if he goes, but when he goes,” said Rasmussen during a break from the first day of the alliance’s defense ministerial meetings. He added, “The international community needs to be ready, but I don’t see a leading role for NATO once the crisis is over.” Instead, that responsibility should fall on the United Nations and the Libyan people, he said. Rasmussen declined to offer a timeline for the transition, saying only that Qaddafi’s “war machine is no longer able to launch massive attacks against the civilian population.” It’s still not clear whether NATO forces will be able to wrap up operations in the new 90-day window.