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Monday, March 21, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Qatar contributes fighter-jets to Libya operation

LONDON — Qatar has contributed French-origin fighter-jets for the NATO air mission on Libya. The Gulf Cooperation Council emirate was joining the operation in coordination with France, designated as the likely leader of the NATO mission.


"Qatar is participating in the military action because it is necessary for Arab states to take part," Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani said.

This would mark the first direct Arab participation in the Western-led combat mission against Libya. Only NATO states, including Belgium, Britain, France, Italy and the United States, had participated in air and missile strikes against the regime of Libyan Col. Moammar Gadhafi. The strikes were said to have targeted Libyan air defense batteries as well as Gadhafi's compound.

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"What is happening now is not an intervention," GCC secretary-general Abdul Rahman Bin Hamad Al Attiyah said. "It is about protecting the people from bloodshed."

Qatar has a fleet of French-origin Mirage 2000-5 fighter-jets, produced by Dassault Aviation. Officials said four unidentified Qatari fighter-jets, believed to be Mirage 2000-5s, were already operating in Libya.

"We should already start thinking about the post-Gadhafi era," Belgian Defense Minister Pieter De Crem said. "This is not just about removing Gadhafi, but also about giving the Libyans the chance to build a democratic society."

But the United States has stressed that it did not seek the ouster of Gadhafi. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staffs, said the NATO campaign remained limited and could allow Gadhafi to remain in power.

"It isn't about seeing him [Gadhafi] go." Mullen said in a television interview.

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