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Broad political backing of Gripen deployment

TT/The Local/rm · 30 Mar 2011, 16:46

Published: 30 Mar 2011 16:46 GMT+02:00

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“When the UN is urging the world to protect the civilian population of Libya, we feel it is important that Sweden plays its part in keeping the Libyan air force from attacking its own people, “ they said in press release Wednesday.

The Left party welcomed the chance for the Riksdag to consider to what length Sweden should go in their contribution to the Libya crisis and that the Swedish fighters are restricted in what they can do.

“This way we’ll do what we do best and are best suited for,“ Left Party leader Lars Ohly said to news agency TT regarding the restrictions.

The Social Democrats have argued for the fighters not to take part in anything other than the upkeep of the no-fly zone. They fear that the allied attacks will turn into something Sweden can’t support.

“So far, the attacks have stayed within the framework of the resolution, but they are touching upon the line of what separates acceptable from unacceptable,” Urban Ahlin, the Social Democrat spokesperson for foreign policy, told TT.

The Greens want Sweden to work as a restraining force if other countries want to make a wider interpretation of the resolution.

Spokesperson Peter Eriksson told TT that it is important that NATO considers the resolution carefully so that it does not seem like the western powers are taking over the Libyan people’s rebellion.

According to Swedish military expert Robert Egnell from the department of security and strategic studies at the National Defence College (Försvarshögskolan), there is a broad spectrum of possible interpretations of the UN resolution.

The most extreme view would be to give military support to the rebels and the more held back view to uphold the no-fly zone and perhaps attack land-based targets if there was a risk that civilians would otherwise be hurt.

“Many discussions have arisen in the Riksdag around the importance of not taking sides but almost everyone agrees that it is necessary to stop Qaddafi from using his own air force on civilian targets”, Egnell said.

When it comes to foreign policy, Sweden wants to show a willingness to contribute when the international community calls, according to Egnell.

This is a trend visible since the country took part in the peacekeeping action in Afghanistan, or perhaps as far back as Kosovo in the 1990’s.

And whether this trend will continue is highly dependent on what happens in Libya.

“If Sweden takes sides in what looks like a civil war, we may well loose our credibility in the Arab world. That might hurt our international standing. But for the moment it is seen as important to be a credible and dependable international partner, “ Egnell said.

Story continues below…

Gripen fighter jets are made by Swedish Saab and are currently in the running with the French Dassault and American Boeing for a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply the Brazilian air force.

There have been many voices in Sweden claiming that sending Gripen is an endeavour to showcase the fighters in action to a hitherto rather lukewarm weapons market.

Egnell does not want to speculate into how much truth there is in those claims.

"But it is no secret that there are many interested parties who would be pleased to see the Swedish air force taking part in Libya," he told The Local.

TT/The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:11 March 30, 2011 by rjp783
I'm surprised the left aren't intelligent enough to realise that, even if Sweden does not take part in bombing ground forces itself, by joining the NATO action, Sweden gives the appearance of endorsing NATO's aggression. It connives and collaborates with them. It should stay well away.
20:11 March 30, 2011 by coolguy09
Really a good chance for SAAB to test the jet in real scenario, The emerging defense markets like middle east,south east asia, south america . Cost vs performance against Vipers,Rafales, and Eurofighter
20:40 March 30, 2011 by procrustes
To speak of NATO's "aggression" is to speak out of the only part of a 1970's reactionary's body not buried in the sands of history, It's completely and totally (in case one doesn't comprehend completely) passé lingo.

This is a win win for Sweden so long as one of their Saabs don't get sobbed (sorry, I know it's awful but I couldn't resist--must be the Franken wine). Sweden can show what their plane can do in real time, sign up a customer or two and score points with the NATO countries. Libya is a good war. if the Libyans squander their won freedom, that's no skin off anyone's nose but theirs.

Another subject: I have not been able to identify an inflight refueling nozzle on the Gripen. Does anyone know if the plane has the capability for inflight refueling?
22:33 March 30, 2011 by Rebel
Now will Obama accept Reinfeldt's friend request on facebook?
22:36 March 30, 2011 by Polish-Finnish Swede
Yes, C/D (not A/B) versions are NATO compatible and capable of inflight refueling
03:59 March 31, 2011 by repat_xpat
Translation: After the US has done all the dirty work and it looks like its going to be a success, its time for Sweden to jump in and claim glory. If the US fails, be quick to lead the blame --they are such a warmongering people after all.
05:42 March 31, 2011 by BarCode
Help Obama win another peace prize
06:54 March 31, 2011 by Uncle
Can someone explain to me, how stopping a dictator, who is ploughing through civilians and uses rape as a tool of fear, is an "aggression"?

I mean, it took like 10 years of proved and undeniable civilian targeting before NATO started it's "aggression" against Serbia. It took 2 million dead before US started the short "aggression" against Somalia. It took invasion into neighbouring country and escape of 30% of that country citizens, before US started an "aggression" against Iraq the first time. It took 3 thousand dead in Manhattan, before NATO started an "aggression" in Afghanistan. It took, what 200 thousand dead (?) before US started an "aggression" against North Korea.

It took an unknown amount of dead and raped, before NATO and (finally the lame Sweden) started an "aggression" against Kaddafi.

When does it stop being aggression? When these dictators wipe out 100% of the civilian population? When? Only if they invade? Only if they use chemical weapons? Where is the reasonable line for the socialists and islamists here for the west finally start caring?
08:40 March 31, 2011 by Marc the Texan
I'd really prefer that Sweden just stay out of it entirely. Swedish political dithering will only help to bring failure to the mission. I'm sorry Sweden, but you don't deserve any more of a voice until you start carrying a larger load.

I agree with Uncle.
09:44 March 31, 2011 by rise
If Sweden does take part = moaning.

If Sweden doesn't take part = moaning.

So, who even bothers to listen? Personally I find it refreshing that Sweden isn't obligated to do anything, like the NATO countries are, but can decide for itself.

But I find it pleasing now when the politicians finally have decided to at least help protecting the civilians. I hope it'll lead to at least some Libyan families are kept whole and not loosing any of their family members. I know have it is to loose someone close since I've lost two of my closest people. And if only but one Libyan family is kept whole thanks to Swedish involvement, it is worth Sweden taking part.
10:05 March 31, 2011 by Rebel
Hey @Uncle, yeah, and it was all true that Germans were shoving bayonets into pregnant Belgian women in WW1, and how Saddam shut off the electricity in the Kuwaiti hospital so that premature babies would die, or that the Germans in 1941 blew up ships in New York's harbor, or those pictures of "concentration camps" set up by Serbia were really true, or that Ghadaffi is ordering rape gangs in Libya to what, gain the support of the masses? then why the heck is he distributing hundreds of thousands of guns to civilians in his country to fight off the CIA/Al Quaida backed rebels?
11:56 March 31, 2011 by procrustes

You may not be aware that the USA Constitution was written with just that (no treaty obligations) in mind. Tom Jefferson et al felt that pre-commitment via foreign treaties to be anathema.

Something to ponder: The USA population is 300 million. Sweden's population is 10 million. One dead/injured Swede is equivalent to 30 dead/injured Americans. A factor of thirty in terms of economic impact using a monetary velocity model becomes 300 times what the cost to the states is. One dead soldier has 300 times the impact on Sweden as it does on the USA. I'd say Sweden would have to nuts not to be very cautious about its commitments to foreign adventures.


Good lord! You're buying the Gaddafi line? The real motivation behind all the Middle-East unrest is food prices. The Press is finally starting to get it. The people there spend a far greater percentage of their disposable income on food that in the West. This is about politics of power so much as the politics of food.
13:13 March 31, 2011 by rise
@ procrustes

Yes I think Sweden now is treading very dangerous soil in all aspects. But the cause is fair, at least I've been led to believe. And Sweden does nothing without first having the UN embargo. The US however is the planets only super power and can do pretty much whatever it wants. Sweden cannot, and better tread carefully - maybe especially now with the fact that the Swedish Air Force is going to Libya. Dangerous indeed.

But it wasn't the US but France that started this defending of the civilians, no?
01:57 April 1, 2011 by GLO
Just to easy to go to War, been there done that. Go to War when you are at risk.

Try everything to stay out.
02:24 April 2, 2011 by repat_xpat
Thanks Texan, you are sooo right.
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