Germany has agreed to supply munitions for the NATO air-strikes in Libya. The move comes despite Berlin not originally backing the operation, and some suggest peer pressure has caused the shift in its position.
After just over 100 days of air strikes and with just over 2,000 bombs dropped by NATO allies on Libya, the mission has run into an unexpected problem: a lack of shells to drop.
And where there is demand, there is supply.
In this case, Germany has agreed to provide the much needed ammunition. Previously, Berlin abstained from voting in favor of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 on Libya – a move that surprised some, and angered others. But it may now be backing out of its decision.
“The Germans may not want to participate, but they have decided that their position does not preclude them from supplying weapons in this case, or assistance,” says Edward Hunt from Jane's Defense and Security Intelligence and Analysis.
Some believe Germany is under pressure from other NATO members, particularly the US, France and the UK, to take a more active part in the Libyan campaign.
“At first hand our ministries told the foreign affairs minister ‘Don't go to Libya. It is a very bad conflict. It was started by the CIA, and it is a dirty business. Don't go there!’ So this is why he voted with Russia and China. Now the backlash from Washington is so tough that obviously we are under pressure to do something to make up for this decision,” says government consultant and political analyst Christoph Horstel.
Aside from peer pressure, Germany may be lured by the possible financial benefits of making its weapons available for NATO’s use in Libya.
“Probably, Germany will get paid for delivering these arms to other countries, but this is normal practice between countries, even between NATO countries,” says Lode Vanoost, an international consultant and former deputy speaker of the Belgian Parliament.
Out of the 28 NATO members, only eight are actively participating in the Libyan campaign. With civilian deaths, to which NATO recently admitted, too, a shortage of weapons and the ever-relentless Muammar Gaddafi still at the helm, the coalition may be facing just the beginning of its problems.
“In fact, what we see here is that deliberately the country is being destroyed, which is by far transgressing the decision by the Security Council and that is a very bad story right now,” adds government consultant Christoph Horstel.
Berlin is in a tough spot: on the one hand, it has disappointed NATO by refusing to support the mission in Libya in March. On the other, by agreeing to supply bombs, it may now lose friends in other high places. Whatever the real reasons for its contradictory policy may be, Germany could find that by trying to please everyone, it may end up pleasing no one.
Germany’s decision to join the operation in Libya is explained by an obligation to support its military allies in NATO, believes political blogger Rick Rozoff.
“What it suggests is that NATO obligations override national security concerns, national interests, international law, even the precise stipulations of UN resolution 1973 which had been exceeded in a dramatic fashion,” said Rozoff.