Speaking today, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says that the military alliance has “tentatively decided” to stop launching air strikes in Libya following yesterday’s death of Moammar Gadhafi.
“We have taken a preliminary decision to end Operation Unified Protector on Oct. 31,” Rasmussen said. The air campaign is going to continue but be “wound down” over the next 10 days.
NATO has launched at least 9,600 strikes inside Libya since March 19, an air war that was supposed to be aimed at “protecting civilians” but ended up being a war for regime change. With the old dictator dead and the new regime preparing to take over, officials are hoping to move on.
But the death of Gadhafi, however it actually happened, doesn’t mean Libya’s war is over. Though loyalist factions are believed to be losing most of their energy, a new civil war also seems to be on the horizon between factions within Libya’s National Transitional Council. It remains to be seen if NATO will attempt to insinuate itself into that conflict, but many officials seem to be looking at a long-term “commitment” to Libya now.