June 28, 2011 / 7:14 PM / 9 years ago

Gaddafi forces should not be disbanded after war: UK

LONDON (Reuters) - A British-led team planning for a post-conflict Libya has recommended that Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces should be left largely intact after a rebel victory, avoiding an error made after the Iraq war, a minister said Tuesday.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell also said that the United Nations was looking into sending unarmed peacekeeping monitors to Libya once the conflict there was over.

An international team, led by Britain, and supported by the United States, Italy, Denmark, Turkey, Australia and Canada, has spent several weeks in rebel-held eastern Libya to assess Libya’s needs once the war is over, assuming Gaddafi is ousted.

The team has drawn up a report, sent to Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) Monday, and which is expected to be presented at the next meeting of an international contact group on Libya in Istanbul on July 15.

The 50-page report, which has not yet been made public, is also being sent to the United Nations, Mitchell said.

On the Libyan security forces, “the lesson is not to make the mistake that was made in Iraq,” Mitchell told a news conference.

“One of the first things that should happen once Tripoli falls is that someone should get on the phone to the former Tripoli chief of police and tell him he’s got a job and he needs to ensure the safety and security of the people of Tripoli,” he said.

In security and justice, the report stressed the importance of using “existing structures” as much as possible, he said.

LESSONS OF IRAQ

After ousting Saddam Hussein in 2003, U.S. forces dissolved Iraqi security forces and purged state institutions of members of his Sunni-dominated Baath party, moves that fueled a bloody Sunni insurgency.

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has also been widely criticized for insufficient planning for the post-war period.

The NTC will give its views on the report and British officials hope it will then form the basis of international action in a post-conflict Libya, with different countries or international financial institutions helping with different aspects of stabilizing and rebuilding Libya.

The process of restoring stability must be “Libyan-owned and ultimately it must be United Nations-led,” Mitchell said.

The report looks at three time frames — the period between now and the end of the fighting, the 30 days after fighting ends and the medium term — and deals with bringing about a politically inclusive settlement, security and justice, providing basic services and getting the economy restarted.

It does not estimate the cost of reconstruction or how long it will take to get the Libyan oil industry back to normal.

Mitchell said the U.N.’s ability to send peacekeepers to Libya after the war would depend on whether it was peaceful.

“If there is a benign environment then it is possible for the U.N. to get monitors in and they are actively considering how to approach this, really reasonably quickly. But there you are talking about a small number of probably unarmed U.N. monitors,” he said.

“If it is not a benign situation then it is much, much more difficult ... and the U.N. are considering how best to handle it,” he said.

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