In comments to the House of Common Defense Committee Wednesday, Defense Secretary Liam Fox said it was possible that Britain might send troops to Tunisia’s border with Libya. He said the move would require approval from the Attorney General.
The UN resolution authorizing the no-fly zone over Libya, used as a pretext for the NATO bombing campaign, explicitly forbids ground troops from entering Libya. Deploying troops just across the border to Tunisia appears to be a way to circumvent the letter, if not the spirit, of the resolution.
Fox presented the plan as a way to set up “safe havens” for the refugees who fled to Tunisia during the course of the war, and protect them from Gadhafi attacks. The justification seems flawed, however, as there has been no indication of such attacks into Tunisian territory in the first place.
Tunisia was the first nation to see an uprising in the “Arab Spring,” and ousted long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia in January. His ouster was initially opposed by a number of NATO nations, notably France, making it odd that post-revolution Tunisia might play host to a NATO attack force hoping to eventually march forward into Libya.