LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary William Hague dismissed fears that Western nations were getting dragged into an Iraq-style conflict with their campaign against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
France, Britain and the United States are leading the air strikes on Libya, which started in March after the U.N. Security Council authorised “all necessary measures” to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s forces.
Richard Dannatt, former head of the British army, has noted parallels with the campaign in Iraq when U.S.-led forces ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003 but then faced a bloody insurgency.
“It’s very different from Iraq because of course in the case of Iraq there were very large numbers of ground forces deployed from Western nations,” Hague told BBC Radio 4.
“That’s clearly not the case and it’s not going to be the case in Libya. It’s right to point to the need for a political process when Gaddafi goes, and that of course is something we discuss with the National Transitional Council in Libya,” he added.
“They have put forward their plans for that, for an interim government including figures from the regime, for the holding of elections and those are the right plans to put forward.”
Hague refused to confirm that Britain would send attack helicopters to strengthen NATO’s military operations in Libya as France plans to do.
“We are intensifying the military pressure on the Gaddafi regime. This kind of deployment may be part of that intensified pressure and that is designed to protect civilians under the UN Security Council resolution,” Hague said.
French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said on Monday that Britain would start deploying attack helicopters in Libya along with France as part of the NATO’s operation there.
But British Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey told parliament the British government had taken no decision.