TRIPOLI, Libya, July 5 (UPI) -- Fissures among NATO allies are surfacing amid concerns expressed about shrinking arms inventories and the failure so far to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Signs of friction have begun emerging within the NATO alliance even as its airstrikes in western Libya have increased and Libyan rebel fights have shown signs of improving, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
The eight nations bearing the military burden have tried unsuccessfully to get the alliance's 20 other members to take on larger roles while disagreeing about the best strategy, sources told the Times. The desire for a breakthrough led some members to take riskier steps in the hopes of ousting Gadhafi sooner rather than later, such as France's recently revealed airdrops of weapons to rebels.
The signs of discontent are becoming more public. In the Netherlands, Defense Minister Hans Hillen voiced concern about expanding beyond the stated mission and suggested the campaign's advocates falsely believed they could defeat Gadhafi.
"People who thought that merely by throwing some bombs it would not only help the people, but also convince Gadhafi that he could step down or alter his policy were a little bit naive," Hillen said.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini also scolded the coalition over the accidental killing of civilians and called for a cease-fire, the Times said.
In Washington, the Obama administration faces pressure from Republicans and anti-war Democrats concerning the U.S. role.
European and U.S. officials said such dissent is normal. However, officials and outside observers also acknowledge pressure is growing for the alliance to get Gadhafi out of office. If they can't get the strongman to budge, they may have to negotiate an exit strategy that would give Gadhafi some leverage, the Times reported.
"All the countries are watching an economic and political time clock," said Jorge Benitez, a NATO observer at the Atlantic Council of the United States. "The question is: Whose coalition will break first, Gadhafi's or NATO?"