UN airstrikes could begin tonight as Qaddafi's troops near Benghazi
His air force is already bombing the outskirts of the city, but not for much longer. The Security Council’s expected to vote at 6 p.m. ET and the French are telling people that airstrikes against Libyan air defenses — and maybe more — could begin immediately thereafter.
At the same time, Qaddafi just delivered another insane stemwinder against the rebels on Libyan radio warning people in Benghazi that the army will be rolling into town tonight and that, if they don’t surrender, they’ll receive “no mercy.” Which means, unless someone blinks in the next few hours, that city will be a bona fide international war zone by the time America goes to bed tonight.
The vote has been taken at the UN Security Council
Update: The vote’s over at the Security Council. 10-0, with Russia and China abstaining. Qaddafi’s response, via Al Jazeera’s live blog:
It sounds like British and French war planes will be the first ones in.
Libya: UK forces prepare after UN no-fly zone vote
UK forces are preparing to help enforce a no-fly zone over Libya after the UN backed "all necessary measures", short of an invasion, to protect civilians.
Downing Street have cautioned against earlier suggestions that British planes could be in action "within hours" and declined to put a timetable on it.
The UN resolution rules out a foreign occupation force in any part of Libya.
A draft UN resolution tabled by the UK, France and Lebanon on Tuesday proposed a ban on all flights in Libya, authorised member states to enforce it and called on them to participate in it.
The resolution would permit air strikes on Libyan ground troops or allow attacks on Libyan war ships if they were attacking civilians, the BBC's Barbara Plett at the UN said.
This whole situation strikes me as somewhat unnerving. Not that Qaddafi isn't an evil dictator who is willing to do almost anything to stay in power - I just wonder how similar logic (by the U.N.) could be used in other countries around the world, in different situations at their whims. Just food for thought.
Someone else sees potential problems with this U.N. led effort:
Former UK air chief wary of Libya air strikes
Lord Stirrup, a former British air chief, has warned that the UK and France need a clear objective on what to do with Colonel Gaddafi before launching air strikes on Libya.
Speaking to EUobserver by phone on Wednesday (16 March) ahead of a UN Security Council vote on Libya in New York, Lord Stirrup, who commanded the British air force from 2003 to 2006, said: "Before you start using military force you need to know what is the objective. Is it the removal of Gaddafi? If Yes, then clearly a no-fly zone is just one element in a long list of other elements. If it's to protect Libyan civilians, I would say: 'From what? For how long?'"
"As far as I can see there is no consensus, not even a growing body of opinion within international circles, not even within the EU, about what the objective would actually be," he added.
But then you are getting drawn into someone else's civil war ... What if there is a long-term stand-off between the east and west of Libya? Are we to engage in a long-term no-fly zone as we did with Iraq?" he noted.
That is exactly what I find unnerving about this whole thing. Its an internal conflict. Does the U.N. get to decide when they will have forces intervene in a nation's internal conflict?
"You have to have a clear legal basis from the international community which extends to details such as rules of engagement and how many casualties we are prepared to accept. You owe this to people if you are going to ask them to use lethal force."
The French contact said the UK and France would need to destroy Libyan radar and anti-aircraft stations and to keep two jets, such as Mirage 2000 or Rafale fighters, in the air over Libya 24 hours a day to impose a no-fly zone.
The planes could be launched from the Sigonella base in Sicily, from Malta or from the Solenzara base in Corsica. They would need support from AWACS planes and anti-aircraft frigates to jam Libyan signals, as well as re-fuelling aircraft.
Ambassadors from the 15-member UN Security Council will in New York on Wednesday debate and potentially vote on a joint British-French-Lebanese proposal on military intervention in Libya.
The draft resolution, seen by EUobserver: "Decides to establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahariya in order to help protect civilians ... [and] authorises member states to take all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ban."
This situation in Libya continues to deteriorate and now the "international community" is directly involved.
Wars and rumors of war. We see it every day in various parts of the world, but particularly in Northern Africa and the Middle East. And yes, such things were clearly described in the prophetic scriptures - that's a fact.