Director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) Kristian Berg Harpviken has strongly condemned the Libyan conflict, claiming that lives are being lost for no good reason.
“It's really too early to conclude. We don’t know what the history of Libya will be yet, but it is a pretty entrenched conflict for the moment,” says Mr Harpviken to NRK.
Questions remain over Norway’s involvement in the conflict, even after the return of Norway’s last four F-16s. Mr Harpviken believes that it was not Norway’s place to get involved.
“I'm afraid the operation in Libya may prove to be a step back,” he said, commenting on politicians’ justification of the Libyan operation by citing UN resolution 1973.
“It is obvious to many, including those who supported the operation, this is a principle that politicians use to avoid criticism. What looked like being the protection of civilians has turned out to be an intervention that took sides, partly motivated by participating countries’ own interests.”
Ministry of Defence spokesman, Major Eystein Kvarving, disagrees with the researcher’s assessment of the situation. He claims Norway’s contribution was positive as far as the people of Libya were concerned, despite extremely “regretful” and “unintentional” civilian casualties.
“We have completed the assignment in a good way. What we have achieved is aiding effective enforcement of the no-fly zone, and not least contributing to reducing the regime's ability to use military force against its own civilian population. We do everything we can to avoid it [causing civilian casualties]. One civilian loss is one too many,” he says.
Nevertheless, Mr Harpviken insists that separating the military from the political is difficult is problematic as far as he is concerned.
“I have no problem with seeing that the operation could be defined as relatively successful from a military perspective, but it is difficult for me to view this without putting it into a political perspective. Norway has as much responsibility for the political operation as the military one.”
The peace reseracher's comments come amongst reports that Colonel Gaddafi may yet hang onto power in Libya despite the efforts of the rebels and NATO.