The role played by mercenaries on both sides of the conflict in Libya has become clearer after claims that British, French and Qatari mercs had been captured by pro-Gadhafi forces near Bani Walid, one of the few remaining strongholds of the North African strongman.
The “technical experts” were reportedly amongst 17 captured during fighting over the past few days.
So far news on the situation has been sparse, with both the Foreign Office in Britain and the French Foreign Ministry saying they have no information, while NATO says none of its servicemen have been captured.
This comes as another blow to National Transitional Government forces, who have had to retreat in disorder from both Bani Walid and Sirte after troops went in before tank and artillery support could be brought to bear.
Build a European Defense HQ by any means necessary. That’s the message that France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain have sent E.U. High Representative Baroness Ashton.
For example, the current E.U. naval mission off Somalia would fall under the HQ’s remit.
Britain is deeply hostile to the idea, calling it a “red line,” while other E.U. powers are in favor. This is the latest in a long-running saga, highlighting once again the infighting common within the European Union.
Romania officially put the brakes on any purchase of fighters in the current economic climate, illustrating the severe financial difficulties many European air forces are facing. Romania is struggling to finance replacements for its aging Soviet-era kit. While it had desired to buy new F-16s, Romanian President Traian Basescu noted his country could not afford the billions they would cost.
Romania’s problem is shared by other Eastern European nations such as Bulgaria and Croatia. A compromise may well be sought, where all three nations work with America towards a regional agreement pooling resources for an eventual F-16 purchase.
America and Poland signed a joint statement affirming their commitment to install components of a missile-defense shield at Redzikowo military base by 2018. Poland had agreed to base SM-3 missiles at Redzikowo in exchange for Patriot missile systems, a permanent American garrison and an explicit guarantee of assistance if Poland is attacked.
America is also continuing with its plans to site SM-3 missiles in Romania and radar systems in Turkey as part of a pan-NATO effort.
Russia is hostile to any idea of an American or NATO missile shield, calling it a threat to national security.