“To be clear, our mission is to protect the civilian population in Libya, not to track and target thousands of fleeing former regime leaders,” said Colonel Roland Lavoie, spokesman for Nato’s Libya Mission, on Sept. 6. (Xinhuanet
Despite continued assertions by Nato that its duty is only to protect civilians and not to target Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the official line was contradicted today. Speaking in Tripoli, British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that Britain would help track down ousted leader Gaddafi. Feb 17
reported he said
“This is not over. We will help to find Gaddafi and bring him to justice.”
Cameron, together with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is in Tripoli, the first western foreign leaders to visit Tripoli since the overthrow of Gaddafi. The BBC
reports that Sarkozy advised Libyans to avoid
“vengeance and retaliation.”
The National Transitional Council (NTC) cannot claim a final victory whilst Col. Gaddafi remains on the loose, but his whereabouts are unknown. Businessmen in Libya provided the funding to the NTC for a $2 million dead or alive bounty on Gaddafi’s head, and the International Criminal Court has an arrest warrant out for his capture.
The Nato message that tracking Gaddafi down is not on the agenda has been reiterated many times. On Aug. 25 CBC News
reported that a U.S. defense official
“Denied the alliance was participating in the hunt for the dictator.”
As recently as Sept. 9 the Times of Malta
“Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted Gaddafi was “not a target of Nato’s operation.”
The official line has changed many times since Nato involvement in Libya with repeated initial assertions that regime change was not on the agenda. There has been no official Nato statement as yet to support the British leader’s pledge.