Precision and Purpose: Airpower in the Libyan Civil War

By Gregory Alegi; Christian F. Anrig et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE
The Arab States’ Experiences

Bruce R. Nardulli


Introduction

The Libyan revolution and toppling of the regime with assistance from the NATO-led coalition had many distinctive features. In the larger political context, one of the more prominent ones involved the direct participation of Arab states in helping to bring down the Qaddafi regime, punctuated by the direct military participation of the Arab states of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. These developments stood out as another dramatic development in a region already rocked by drama since the Tunisia uprising and the cascading events of the Arab Awakening that followed. The State of Qatar, in particular, staked out a leading position against the Qaddafi regime from the onset of the uprising and the initial violent crackdown in early February 2011.

The history of Arab state involvement in the Libyan campaign can be reconstructed in many different ways. All of them have the benefit of imposing logic and order on what was a complex, emotional, sometimes chaotic and rapidly unfolding situation. This chapter attempts to capture some of the major political and military elements that shaped the intervention and operations of the Arab state participants. It also emphasizes the manner in which the two Gulf states of Qatar and the UAE, in particular, managed to engage in direct military operations well outside their traditional operating area.

On the political front, the decade-long involvement of Western military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the unfolding of the Arab Awakening, provided the strategic backdrop that helped set the conditions for Arab military involvement. The Libyan uprising provided the need for mutual support (and mutual opportunity) for the NATO-contributing countries and for the Arab state participants. The United States, Britain, and France all recognized the importance of having Arab political support to legitimize any military operations against Qaddafi and his regime. Likewise, the Arab states understood that Western military power was needed to bring down the Qaddafi regime and avoid a potential massacre of civilians in Libya. Active Arab participation also would provide an opening for Arab leadership to positively shape developments in light of the Arab Awakening. NATO provided them the necessary military

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