Muammar Gaddafi’s government has warned the international community that any attack on Libya would threaten air and sea traffic in the Mediterranean after it was reported that military action involving France, Britain, the United States and one or more Arab states could be an option in the just passed United Nations Security Council resolution.
The resolution entails a no-fly zone over Libya and “all necessary measures” to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s forces.
Actions against Gaddafi’s government had been pressed for by France, which drafted the final version of the resolution. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told reporters “France is ready, with others, to put the Security Council resolution into effect,” suggesting this could include air strikes.
A U.S military official revealed to AP that Washington has urged the United Nations to authorize not just a no-fly zone to aid Libyan rebels but also air strikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery.
Seeing that Libyan revolutionists now have protection and support from the rest of the world, Libya’s defense minister has called the U.N.-approved action “illegal and immoral.”
While the resolution has passed, it was not supported by Russia, China and Germany, although they did not exercise their right of veto. The Russian and Chinese envoys said the resolution’s backers (France, Britain, and Australia) had failed to answer questions about how the no-fly zone would work and what the rules of engagement would be.
Despite the Security Council split on the issue, some Libyan authorities believe it the step in the right direction.
“It is a clear to the Libyan people that they are not alone. It is also a clear message to Colonel Gaddafi and those who are supporting him that there is no place for dictatorship, … there is no place for atrocities, for mass killing,” Libyan deputy U.N. ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi told reporters.
German Ambassador Peter Wittig, explaining his country’s abstention, warned of a possible protracted military conflict affecting the wider region. “We should not enter a military confrontation on the optimistic assumption that quick results with few casualties will be achieved,” he said.
However, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice welcomed the adoption of the resolution and translated its message into clear terms for Gaddafi and his government.
“The Security Council has authorized the use of force, including enforcement of a no-fly zone, to protect civilians … targeted by Colonel Gaddafi, his intelligence and security forces, and his mercenaries,” Rice said.
Analysts expect a stagy intensification of international involvement in a conflict that erupted last month between Gaddafi loyalists and protesters trying to bring democracy to the country.
The no-fly zone resolution is expected to be as effective as, or more effective than the no-fly zone imposed over Bosnia in the 1990s, which some analysts say failed to stop massacres like the 1995 slaughter of more than 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica.