Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Imperialist and Their Allies Disagree Over Libya Policy; Gaddafi Forces Continue Offensive Against Rebels

March 16, 2011

Security Council Uncertain About Intervening in Libya

New York Times

The United Nations Security Council remained divided on Tuesday over a proposed draft resolution that calls for a no-flight zone over Libya and authorizes the use of force to halt the bombing of civilians by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Diplomats said the resolution, which will be debated by the Security Council on Wednesday, called for the 15-member body to authorize a ban on all flights in Libyan airspace and for member states to “take all necessary measures to enforce compliance.” All flights from outside Libya suspected of bringing arms into the country would also be banned.

The resolution also calls for the tightening of sanctions against Libya, including adding more names to the list of Libyan officials who face international travel bans. It also calls for expanding the list of individuals and financial institutions close to Colonel Qaddafi that would have their assets frozen. On Feb. 26 the Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Libya and referred the government’s actions o the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible crimes against humanity.

But diplomats said the council was far from a consensus on the resolution, with China, Russia and Germany expressing reservations and the United States, with its military already committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, cautious about endorsing any action that could overstretch its capacity. Diplomats said the United States, which would play a key role in implementing any no-flight zone, was concerned that the measure might not be sufficient to halt Mr. Qaddafi. American officials have also said they were reluctant to initiate military action against another Muslim nation.

A no-flight zone was adopted by the United Nations in the early 1990s during the war in Bosnia, but proved ineffective in preventing some of the worst atrocities there — a fact that diplomats said has been seized upon by skeptics in recent days as the debate has intensified.

Diplomats said the United States and other members of the Security Council were determined that the Arab League should play a leading role in implementing any no-flight zone and that its role was explicit in the draft resolution.

Russia, which has often opposed Security Council resolutions that it thinks impinge on another country’s domestic affairs, has insisted that serious questions remain about how a no-flight zone would operate and who would enforce it.

Lebanon, the council’s only current Arab member, presented the Arab League’s request to the council to authorize a no-flight zone to protect Libyan civilians. Lebanese diplomats said that authorizing the no-flight zone had become urgent as Col. Qaddafi’s forces continued to advance.

Nawaf Salam, Lebanon’s ambassador, contended that such a zone did not constitute foreign intervention in Libya, even as he acknowledged that enforcing it would likely require the use of force. He said Lebanon was examining specific areas in Libya where civilians could be protected and corridors for safe passage could be established.

“We hope that no need for military force will be required,” he said. “Nothing is too late. But it may not be enough.”

French officials, who have been pressing for a no-flight zone and played a leading role, with Britain, in drafting the resolution, said they were cautiously optimistic that the resolution would pass. But they also expressed concern that time was running out.

“We are deeply distressed by the fact that things are worsening on the ground and that Qaddafi’s forces are moving forward extremely quickly and this council has not reacted,” said Gerard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United Nations. “The goal is to prevent Qaddafi from bombing his own people.”

March 15, 2011

G-8 Ministers Fail to Agree on Libya No-Flight Zone

New York Times

PARIS — The eight most powerful industrialized nations failed to agree Tuesday on a no-flight zone or any other military operation to help the Libyan opposition, instead passing the problem to the United Nations Security Council by urging an undefined increase of pressure on the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

France and Britain pressed for agreement on a no-flight zone, while Germany and Russia opposed the measure and the United States was cautious, officials said, speaking anonymously following diplomatic protocol.

Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister, read a statement after talks among foreign ministers of the Group of 8 nations concluded here on Tuesday, saying that they called on Colonel Qaddafi “to respect the legitimate claim of the Libyan people to fundamental rights, freedom of expression and a representative form of government.”

The group also agreed “as a matter of urgency,” Mr. Juppé said, that “the U.N. Security Council should increase the pressure, including economic measures, for Muammar Qaddafi to leave.” He said he hoped for a United Nations resolution by the end of the week.

Mr. Juppé later told the French Parliament that a no-flight zone was no longer useful. “It’s past, and it is not what today will stop the advance of Qaddafi.” Mr. Juppe blamed the lack of Security Council action so far on China, Russia and an American position that he called undefined.

“If today we are stuck, it’s not only because Europe is impotent, it’s because at the Security Council, for now, China doesn’t want any mention of a resolution leading to the international community’s interference in a country’s affairs,” he said. “Never mind that there’s European impotence, but what about American power? What about Russian power? What’s China’s power over Libya?” he said to the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

“Russia is evolving and the Americans haven’t yet defined their position on Libya,” Mr. Juppé said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who left early on Tuesday for talks with Egyptian political and military leaders in Cairo, had met Monday evening with a senior representative of the Libyan opposition, Mahmoud Jibril, who reportedly asked for arms and a no-flight zone.

But she was reported by American officials to be noncommittal, as well as eager to have Arab countries join in any such zone should the United Nations authorize one. The Arab League called for a no-flight zone, but did not specify that its members would participate in implementing one.

The French have been vocal in support of the anti-Qaddafi forces, recognizing them as the legitimate government of Libya. But French statements have not been supported by any unilateral action. Speaking Tuesday morning on Europe 1 radio, Mr. Juppé said that the world had missed an opportunity to act when it might have mattered more.

“If we had used military force last week to neutralize some airstrips and the several dozen planes that they have, perhaps the reversal taking place to the detriment of the opposition wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

It has never been clear what role France expected to play in any no-flight zone, since Mr. Juppé had also ruled out using NATO as an instrument in Libya, saying that the alliance had an “aggressive” image in the Arab world.

Mr. Juppé later cited a sea embargo among possible alternative means of applying pressure, and an American official said there was a discussion of providing “safe zones” for civilians and enacting more economic sanctions.

“Military intervention is not the solution,” said the German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle . “We do not want to get sucked into a war in North Africa and we would not like to step on a slippery slope where we all are, at the end, in a war.”

Franco Frattini, the foreign minister of Italy, which has the closest oil and economic ties with Libya of any European country, said Russia had argued that a no-flight zone would be ineffective and even counterproductive.

China, which has a veto at the Security Council, also opposes a no-flight zone, but it is not a member of the G-8.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the German television station RTL on Tuesday, Colonel Qaddafi praised the position of Germany and said Libya would trade with it in the future for oil, but that otherwise, “the West is to be forgotten.” He said Libyan oil contracts would go “to Russian, Chinese and Indian firms.”

Steven Lee Myers contributed reporting.

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