US and UK may arm Libyan rebels

A US Air Force C130 transport aircraft at the Ramstein airbase in Germany, part of joint task force Odyssey Dawn, the US component of the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya. Photo US Africa Command The United States and Britain have raised the prospect of arming Libya's rebels if air strikes fail to force Muammar Gaddafi from power.

Not so long ago …

In September 2009, a delegation of three senior Libyan military officers visited the US military’s Africa Command headquarters as part of an orientation program. See Africom’s report here . The Libyan officers held meetings with senior US staff members to discuss Africom's programs and activities, met General William E. ward and his two deputies, and traveled to Ramstein Air Base to meet Major General Ron Ladnier, the US Air Force Africa commander, and his staff. Interestingly, Gen. Ward had earlier visited Libya twice in 2009, and also met the Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, in May. " It was...

A turning point for world politics?

From a speech by British Foreign Minister William Hague to the Times CEO Africa Summit on March 22, 2010. See the full text here . We are only in the early stages of what is happening in North Africa and the Middle East. It is already set to overtake the 2008 financial crisis and 9/11 as the most important development of the early 21st century , and is likely to bring some degree of political change in all countries in the Arab world. This is a historic shift of massive importance, presenting the international community as a whole with an immense opportunity. We believe that the international response to these events must be commensurately generous, bold and ambitious. But these momentous events do not stop at the borders of the Arab world .

US supports Gaddafi's ouster

In an interview with CNN, President Obama makes clear that the US supports the removal of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his replacement with a government formed by the rebels. He pointedly refused to rule out military assistance for the rebels, but said the international air campaign was focused on “ensuring that the people of Libya are not assaulted by their own military.” “ Keep in mind we don’t just have military tools at our disposal in terms of accomplishing Gaddafi’s leaving . We’ve put in place strong international sanctions, we’ve frozen his assets, [and] we will continue to apply...

Tougher Ban to get nod for second term - diplomats

The permanent members of the Security Council have no problem with a second term for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Reuters quotes UN diplomats as saying. Once criticised by Human Rights Watch for being "notably reluctant to put pressure on abusive governments," Ban has grown tougher and more self-confident in recent months, they say. In 2008 Russia had threatened to block Ban’s second term for supporting Kosovo’s seccesion from Serbia, but Moscow “got over it,” Reuters quoted diplomats as saying. "It's not as if he's lightning in a bottle, but we can live with him," a senior Western...

On Libya and global protection

Some observations on the UN-backed intervention in Libya from Bloomberg’s report (see it here ): “ This is 21st century intervention, an extraordinary step that pushes the envelope for the UN .” Intervening in an internal conflict such as Libya “goes beyond previous non-aggression measures such the steps taken against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.” - Jeff Laurenti , UN analyst at the New York-based Century Foundation research group. “The Security Council has defied expectations and risen to the occasion by making clear that all options are on the table to prevent mass atrocities...

One and the same

“There is no contradiction in the White House position that the UN-sanctioned military mission is restricted to protecting civilians but that the longer-term, broader political aim is to remove Col Muammar Gaddafi. What is left unsaid is that presumably the man giving the orders to kill civilians is Col Gaddafi. Getting rid of him would protect civilians. QED. ” - Mark Mardell , BBC's North America editor. See his blog here .

Libya and R2P

“In passing RtoP [relating to Libya], the Security Council helped bridge the gap between so-called legitimate (ethically justifiable) and legal (legally authorized) intervention .” “RtoP, responding to the sense that these domestic harms warranted international response, solidified the Security Council’s claims to wider discretion. Yet it also restricted its ability to sanction intervention to the four situations listed in the RtoP document - genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. “[How] the intervention in Libya [develops] is sure to shape how RtoP is applied in...

What drove US decision on Libya?

“President Obama’s decision to participate in the air campaign against … Gaddafi’s regime is a vast improvement over previous policy , a victory for human rights idealists within the administration, and the application of an important international standard known as “the responsibility to protect.” - Michael Gerson , opinion writer, Washington Post. See his comment here " This is the greatest opportunity to realign our interests and our values ," a senior administration official said at the meeting, telling the experts this sentence came from Obama himself. The president was referring to the...

Obama gives Gaddafi ultimatum

US President Obama has delivered a tough warning to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. (See full text here ). These are extracts: "All attacks against civilians must stop. Gaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zawiya , and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. "Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya. "Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable. If Gaddafi does not comply, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military...

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