November 20, 2017

UN votes ‘yes’ to Libya no-fly zone

UN votes for no-fly zone. Has the UN finally shown some teeth or is it too little too late after the horse has bolted?

The United Nations Security Council voted for a no-fly zone over Libya and approved “all necessary measures” short of an invasion “to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas”.

The resolution was proposed by the UK, France and Lebanon and was was carried 10-0 in favour with five abstentions. Russia and China were the key abstentions whose chose not to impose their right of veto.

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi have been steadily pushing rebel forces futher east taking advantage of their superior firepower.

Gaddafi’s forces have total air superiority and a vast array of heavy weapons including artillery and tanks.

Rebel forces holed up in Benghazi reacted with joy with locals cheering, firing guns in the air and letting off fireworks to celebrate the imminent no-fly zone.

A Libyan government spokesman condemned what it called “United Nations aggression”.

The Libyan military warned on State TV that “All civilian and military activities will be the target of a Libyan counter-attack. The Mediterranean Sea will be in serious danger not only in the short term but also in the long term,”

Colonel Gaddafi himself was sending mixed messages to the people of Benghazi saying his troops were coming “tonight” and there would be “no mercy”.

Then he announced the rebels should go home and “whoever lays down his weapons” would be pardoned.

It is expected that enforcement of the no-fly zone could begin almost immediately. It is understood that UK and French airforce units would enforce the no-fly zone in the initial stages with logistical support form some Arab League member states.

It looks as though the United States would take a back seat to start with.

France, Britain and the Arab League nations have been pushing hard for a no-fly zone for weeks now, and the UN vote gives them a major political victory.

It was looking increasingly like the rebel cause was lost and it was only a matter of time before Gaddafi regained control of the entire country.

The text of the resolution goes well beyond just the imposition of a no-fly zone. It allows the forces acting on the UN’s behalf to “take all necessary measures” to “protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.”

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said “This resolution should send a strong message to Colonel Gaddafi and his regime that the violence must stop, the killing must stop and the people of Libya must be protected and have the opportunity to express themselves freely.”

The Libyan regime might draw some comfort from the fact that the trigger happy US airforce will be out of the action for now. However newswarped would like to remind them that the French have been the only nation to recognise the rebels and they have been desperate to get stuck in for weeks.

Britain of course likes to have the opportunity every now and then to remind itself that it was once a major world power. Such enforcement of UN resolutions is a wonderful opportunity to relive past glories – except the Suez crisis maybe.