NATO Threatens to Turn Guns on Libya Rebels Over Attacks on Civilians

In the Wake of a Human Rights Report, Has NATO Found Another Enemy?

British officials familiar with the situation said that NATO was prepared to start attacking the rebels in East Libya if reports of growing attacks against civilians did not cease. They insisted that the UN resolution used as a pretext for war authorized such strikes on anyone threating civilians.

A report earlier this week by Human Rights Watch detailed that forces loyal to the East Libyan rebel faction were summarily detaining civilians they suspect of disloyalty and that at least one had died of torture.

The UN panel charged with investigating the civil war agreed as well, with a report early last week saying that both sides had committed war crimes during the conflict. Though operating in the name of pro-democracy protesters, the rebel leadership is largely made up of defectors from the Gadhafi regime.

The rebel council slammed the comments, saying “we object to being threatened by our allies. They are taking part in military action only at our invitation.” Though NATO has been claiming rebel support a number of protesters objected to their involvement, fearing it would devolve into an unending war. With NATO already at war with half the country and threatening the other half, this fear seems hard to dispute.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.