NY Times urges France to let NATO take lead in Libya

24th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The New York Times on Thursday urged France to let NATO take command of the air strikes against Libya, saying its desire to stay in the lead has "needlessly strained" ties with allies.

The Times editorial complimented French President Nicolas Sarkozy for having pushed hard for military action in Libya, saying Moamer Kadhafi's forces might have done more damage in Benghazi by now if France had been less aggressive.

"Now, Mr. Sarkozy needs to step back and let NATO take the lead. After a phone conversation with President (Barack) Obama on Tuesday, he seems ready to do so, but the details need to be finalized quickly," it said.

"French efforts to appear the leader and prime coordinator of that intervention have needlessly strained relations with other participating countries," the influential daily said.

"This is a time for the military coalition to come together, not to splinter," it added.

France took the lead in recognizing Libya's transition national council, the rebel grouping in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

Along with Britain, it took the lead in drafting a UN Security Council resolution for a no-fly zone and other military action to protect Libyan civilians from Kadhafi's forces.

US, British and French warplanes launched the military action on Saturday.

"Had France pushed less hard, pro-government forces might well have advanced further into the rebel-held city of Benghazi, where Colonel Qaddafi had sworn to show no mercy," the editorial said.

"That did quite a lot to enhance France's image around the world," the newspaper said.

However, it said Sarkozy had been motivated by a desire to redeem his government from its decision to cling to Tunisia's "brutal and venal dictator" while a democratic revolution was underway.

"He saw Libya as a chance to recoup French prestige in North Africa, a region France has long considered important to its economy and security," it said.

© 2011 AFP

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