Thursday, March 17, 2011

U.N. Security Council approves no-fly zone in Libya


From Richard Roth, CNN Senior U.N. Correspondent";

United Nations (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council voted Thursday evening to impose a no-fly zone and other measures to try to halt Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's rapid advances against rebel positions in his country.
Diplomats warned that action was needed before Gadhafi reached the opposition stronghold of Benghazi and crush the movement.
"We should not arrive too late," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.
The resolution was approved with 10 votes. China, Russia, Germany, India and Brazil abstained.

A draft included language stating that "all necessary means" could be used to prevent the "slaughter of civilians," a diplomat said.
Opposition leaders wanted U.N. action because of recent gains made by Gadhafi forces and the imminent offensive against Benghazi.
"We're hoping and praying that the United Nations will come up with a very firm and very fast resolution and they will enforce it immediately," said Ahmed El-Gallal, a senior opposition coordinator.
In a radio address aired on Libyan state TV, Gadhafi criticized residents of Benghazi and called them "traitors" for seeking help from outsiders.
U.S. military officials have said that a no-fly zone would typically be enforced by fighter jets whose speed and altitude make it difficult to target Gadhafi's helicopters and that it would not halt the heavy artillery the regime is using on the ground.
A draft version of a proposed resolution goes beyond a no-fly zone. It includes language saying U.N. member states could "take all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force."
It also condemns the "gross and systematic violation of human rights, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and summary executions."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would not act without a U.N. resolution.
"The international community is debating how best to prevent Gadhafi from overrunning the opposition and killing many more innocent people," she said Thursday during a visit to nearby Tunisia.
Asked whether France will be involved in strikes against Libya if a resolution is passed, Juppe said Thursday at the United Nations that "France is available with others to put the resolution in action, including in this domain."
The draft deplores the use of mercenaries by Libyan authorities, expresses concern about the safety of foreign nationals and demands an immediate cease-fire.
The Arab League's U.N. ambassador, Yahya Mahmassani, said two Arab countries would take part in a no-fly zone operation, but he was not sure which two.
The United States is suggesting that the United Nations should do more than impose a no-fly zone on Libya as Gadhafi's forces fight their way east toward the rebel capital of Benghazi.
Airstrikes against Gadhafi's forces are among options being discussed as diplomats tried to hammer out the resolution, a diplomatic source said.
Libyan state TV, meanwhile, said Thursday that the rebel capital of Benghazi would soon come under attack.
Gadhafi said that his forces will enter Benghazi to rid the city of those "traitors" and that his forces will search everyone for weapons. He added that his forces gave amnesty to those who gave up their weapons in the city of Ajdabiya. "We will not allow further bloodshed among Libyans," Gadhafi said.
"Search for the traitors, for the fanatics. Show them no mercy. We will look for them behind every wall," Gadhafi said. "This farce cannot go on."
There were air strikes on Benghazi's airport Thursday, with three blasts hitting the site about 30 kilometers (about 18 miles) outside the city.
The opposition has been using the airport to launch its own airstrikes, using a handful of jets that rebels have managed to get off the ground, opposition leaders said.
It is not clear that Gadhafi's ground forces are actually within striking range of Benghazi, but they have been fighting their way in that direction for several days.
State TV claimed Thursday that Gadhafi's forces were in control of Ajdabiya, on the road to Benghazi, a claim disputed by opposition leaders.
El-Gallal, speaking from eastern Libya, said "morale is high" and people do not want to leave strongholds because Gadhafi "is willing to kill everybody here."
The government forces have taken control of the eastern and western gates to the city and are trying to breach the inside, opposition leaders said. The opposition says it controls the southern entrance.
The opposition says it has a handful of jets that are no match with Gadhafi's superior air power and a pair of Russian-made "Hind" attack helicopters.
Ajdabiya is the last major point between pro-government forces and Benghazi. If it is retaken by pro-Gadhafi forces, it would give access to roads leading to the heart of the opposition's base.
In remarks to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, William Burns, the under secretary for political affairs at the State Department, said Gadhafi's forces are only about 160 kilometers outside Benghazi.
"They've made advances, taking full advantage of their overwhelming military superiority in military firepower," Burns said.
He expressed fear that Gadhafi, now isolated by the world community, could turn to terrorism again.
"I think there is also a very real danger that if Gadhafi is successful on the ground, that you will also face a number of other considerable risks as well: The danger of him returning to terrorism and violent extremism himself, the dangers of the turmoil that he could help create at a critical moment elsewhere in the region," Burns told the committee.
CNN's Arwa Damon, Nic Robertson, Tommy Evans, Elise Labott, Alan Silverleib, Raja Razek, Joe Vaccarello, Yousuf Basil and Reza Sayah, and journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report.

Blogger comment:
We should have done that early and quickly, we could save a lot of lives. Anyway we have to move now fast after this right decision is made. It is very clear to the west that Qaddafi is very dangerous and have no care about anyone and he was playing the west last few years. He was evil to them before and very likely will do the same again. If the west to win this with the Libyans and Arabs we will have a great reshape despite the delay. For all Arabs and Muslims now stand with the west this move is sincere and for all of us. If the Barbarism of Qaddafi continue all our hopes will die. He is likely to get back on track on his feet and declare himself the stand up guy against the west and he will be back on terrorism like he did in the past. For democracy we will kiss it goodbye.

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