NATO Extends Operations in Libya

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2011 — NATO will extend its secu­ri­ty mis­sion in Libya to pro­tect civil­ians there against con­tin­ued threats, NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen announced today.

Ras­mussen, who vis­it­ed New York this week for meet­ings of the U.N. Gen­er­al Assem­bly, said NATO’s North Atlantic Coun­cil decid­ed today to extend the man­date of Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor, “while keep­ing the sit­u­a­tion under reg­u­lar review.”

“Togeth­er with our part­ners, NATO has been remark­ably suc­cess­ful in ful­fill­ing the man­date of the Unit­ed Nations,” he said. “But while threats to civil­ians per­sist, we will con­tin­ue to pro­tect them under the man­date” of U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 2009, and at the request of the Nation­al Tran­si­tion Coun­cil, Libya’s inter­im nation­al gov­ern­ment.

NATO began the oper­a­tions with U.S. mil­i­tary sup­port last spring to pro­tect Libyan civil­ians dur­ing a wide­spread upris­ing that drove long­time leader Moam­mar Gad­hafi from pow­er. The Nation­al Tran­si­tion Coun­cil was formed in the wake of the rebel fight­ers’ vic­to­ry. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of 60 nations attend­ed a “Friends of Libya” sum­mit in Paris on Sept. 1 to dis­cuss the country’s way for­ward.

“We are deter­mined to con­tin­ue our mis­sion for as long as nec­es­sary, but ready to ter­mi­nate the oper­a­tion as soon as pos­si­ble,” Ras­mussen said today. “While the tech­ni­cal rollover is for up to 90 days, the review will allow us to end our tasks at any time.”

NATO’s deci­sions to end the oper­a­tions will be done in coop­er­a­tion with the Unit­ed Nations and Libyan author­i­ties, he said.

“This deci­sion sends a clear mes­sage to the Libyan peo­ple,” Ras­mussen said. “We will be there for as long as nec­es­sary, but not a day longer, while you take your future in your hands to ensure a safe tran­si­tion to the new Libya.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)