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In the News: U.N. Security Council Votes For “No Fly Zone” Over Libya

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With the fighting intensifying in Libya everyday between the government of Moamar Gadhafi and Libyan rebel forces, the international community is taking action in an attempt to suppress the violence perpetrated by Gadhafi.  Reports indicate that the fighting has been taking place along the coastal cities of Libya, specifically in areas where there are large amounts of oil reserves.  Each day, different battles are fought with victory being claimed by both sides. Benghazi has been the stronghold for the rebels while Tripoli is where Gadhafi has the most power.

  As this article goes to press, the United Nations Security Council voted in favor of a resolution that authorized a “No Fly Zone” around the airspaces of Libya to prevent Gadhafi’s forces from hurting more civilians. There are five permanent members to the Security Council: U.S., France, Great Britain, China, and Russia, who can veto the resolution, killing it altogether. In the end, the U.S., Great Britain, and France, along with ten non-permanent members of the Security Council, voted for the resolution while Russia and China abstained.

 Great Britain and France were the primary authors of the resolution.  France had been the main cheerleader for the plan, calling for immediate action.

“In Libya, for a number of weeks the people’s will has been shot down… by Colonel Gaddafi who is attacking his own people,” said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, “We cannot let these warmongers do this, we cannot abandon civilians.”

Last week, the 22 member Arab League, which until recently included Libya, voted to support a no fly zone. While the Arab League cannot enforce the no fly zone or initiate it, this did provide approval for the western powers to continue with their plans for a no fly zone. Also this week, the G8, a group of countries in Western Europe and the U.S. did not decide on action in Libya, leaving it up to the U.N. Security Council. 

 The Obama administration had been timid in its approach to Libya not wanting to commit resources immediately. A few weeks ago, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned congress that implementing a no fly zone would require bombing Libyan airspace and could lead to ground troops in Libya. Many Republicans and Democrats took a different view from the commander in chief.  Senators John McCain (R, AZ), Joe Lieberman (D, CT), and John Kerry (D, MA), all called for swift action at various points. The president has finally come around to supporting action.

 “The U.S. doesn’t want a war,” said an Obama administration official. “But we want to prevent a slaughter.”

  With the final support the U.N. resolution the Pentagon and the State Department are making final preparations. Action in Libya could begin as early as Friday. The old maxim “an eye for an eye” has now become the motto for the State Department in terms of trying to end the violence with the knowledge that Gadhafi will not stop.

 “If Gadhafi stays, he will do terrible things to Libya and her neighbors,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a visit Thursday to Tunisia, Libya’s neighbor to the west. “It’s in his nature—there are some creatures who are like that.”

  As newest policy is implemented the world waits in anticipation to what happens to the long time serving autocrat as they try to loosen his iron grip on the country.