“We will not blame the youth, but when they are caught and prosecuted they will be begging for mercy but this time we will not be so merciful.  Muammar al-Quaddafi’s remarks from February 22, 2011 show the gravity of the situation in Libya.
An intervention is inevitable
In the light of this call for violence an intervention of the international community under the auspices of the EU and NATIO is inevitable. Otherwise the Libyan people could be victims of large-scale violence and as a last consequence could find themselves in the midst of a civil war. Objections, like a western-led intervention would delegitimize the Libyan uprising or the military capacities of the EU/NATO were exhausted, dare not play a role given the unique structures in Libya. Since, Libya, however, differs in several important ways from Tunisia and Egypt.
The military’s role in Libya
First and foremost, there is less high-ranking military personnel and in contrast to Egypt the upper ranks are much more under the influence of Quaddafi . What is more, Quaddafi could rely on personal elite troops, which are commanded by his son Khamis Quaddafi. In addition to this the armed forces itself are very fractionalized along tribal lines. In other words the respective tribe is more important than the military esprit de corps . This is of utmost importance for a possible post-Quaddafi era because the armed forces, due to internal rivalry, could not step in as power broker for a transition period. By the same token, it is more likely that latent power struggles within the upper ranks will become open contested fights that could bring Libya on the brink of a civil war.
Quaddafi and tribal politics
Power- sharing and, on the flipside, restricting the influence of Libyan tribes is key to the understanding of Quaddafi’s mode of governance. Central actors of the regime are recruited out of his own tribe Qathathfa. Other tribes are co-opted through semi-influential offices and the so-called basic people’s congresses. In sum this could lead to a dangerous dynamic because first actors and tribes are leaving the tight-knit power- sharing regime . Seeing his skilful planned network falling apart Quaddafi tries to hamper this development with instigating his partners-in-crime to further violent acts as the above quotation from his remarks prove. As a result a violent clash of the separate groups could evolve.
Obstacles for a transition of power
There are several obstacles for a smooth transition if Qaddafi, despite contrary remarks, steps down or flees from Libya. First of all, political parties or similar political associations are non-existent in Libya, due to constitutional restrictions and direct democratic elements. Furthermore, the civil society is underdeveloped and in particular the media landscape. Thus, it is very difficult to get reliable information from Libya. Quaddafi’s sons, particularly the at least partly pro-western oriented Saif al-Islam, are with respect to their recent remarks also not suitable for a succession . In a nutshell the large-scale violence, the lack of the armed force’s autonomy, the rivalling tribes as well as the non-existent civil society and political parties make an international intervention inevitable. But on which common ground could the intervention be based on?
Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the EU Battle groups
On the World Summit 2005 almost all countries adopted the so-called Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine . This doctrine puts the protection of human lives against human rights violations in the centre and envisages three steps :
1.Responsibility to Prevent
2.Responsibility to React
3.Responsibility to Rebuild
The first step, containment and prevention of violence, obviously failed. Therefore especially the second step, the reaction to “large-scale loss of human lives”, is decisive. The death toll exceeds meanwhile 500 persons and Quaddafi’s willingness to “die as a martyr” shows clearly that it is the fierce urgency of now, which makes immediate action inevitable to prevent further dead persons. In a last step – and this one is due to the structural problems, laid down above, impossible to carry out without foreign assistance – civil society and statehood must be re-established. In accordance with public international law a mandate issued by the United Nations Security Council is necessary for an intervention. Yesterday (February 22 2011) the Security Council discussed the recent developments in Libya behind closed doors and condemned the violence in a subsequent press release . European Union Battle groups  and the NATO Response force  could lead the intervention itself. Both quick reaction forces can be deployed within a few days. The protection of the civilian population must be the foremost priority accompanied by measurements such as the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya, the establishment of corridors for humanitarian aid and last but not least providing border security to prevent the further invasion of pro-Quaddafi militias from neighbouring countries.
The calculus of the EU
As a matter of course the protection of human lives and compliance with human rights are the foremost priority. But beside this there a few problems which could accrue if the EU does not consider an intervention. First of all, this could lead to another humanitarian crisis namely to tens of thousands of refugees who want to flee their crisis-ridden country. This huge flow of refugees would mainly affect the Southern EU member states Italy and Malta. If the situation in Libya becomes worse more and more Libyans will cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.