UN votes for action to stop Gaddafi...............................................................................................................................
Sydney Morning Herald | March 18, 2011 - 9:51AM
A UN Security Council vote calling for "all necessary measures" against forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been passed unanimously.
The vote - which was 10-0 with five abstentions, including Russia and China - will allow the effort to enforce a no-fly zone and ground Gaddafi's air force to begin within a few days.
Gaddafi has already criticised UN Security Council Resolution 1973/2011, with The Guardian reporting him telling Portuguese television station RTP: "This is craziness, madness, arrogance. If the world gets crazy with us we will get crazy too".
"We will respond. We will make their lives hell because they are making our lives hell. They will never have peace."
The Libyan leader vowed just hours before the vote to oust the rebels from their eastern stronghold.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said if the resolution was approved, France would support military action against Gaddafi within hours. The US said it was preparing for action.
Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will join international forces ready to enforce a no-fly zone, US Congress and UN diplomatic sources say.
These officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorised to speak publicly on the issue, after briefing US Senators on the issue.
Chinese envoy Li Baodong, who holds the rotating council presidency this month, said: "We are going to take action very quickly.
"I urged all the delegations to get instructions from their capitals as early as possible," he said.
Meanwhile, in Tripoli, Libya warned it could target military and civilian air and sea traffic in the Mediterranean in case of a foreign military intervention, the official Jana news agency reported.
"Any military operation against Libya will expose all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean to danger," Jana quoted Libya's defence ministry spokesman as saying.
"And any civilian or military moving traffic will be the target of a Libyan counter-offensive," he said. "The Mediterranean basin will be exposed to grave danger, not just in the short term but also in the long term."
With Gaddafi forces claiming to be at the gates of the rebel capital, Benghazi, a decision has become imperative.
France and Britain have led a campaign at the 15-nation council for a no-fly zone over Libya. While this is resisted by China, the US has taken an increasingly tough line seeking broader measures against the threat posed by Gaddafi.
The United States has said a no-fly zone may not be enough and stressed the need for strong Arab participation in any operation.
The chief of the US Air Force, General Norton Schwartz, told US lawmakers in Washington that imposing a no-fly zone over Libya "would not be sufficient" to halt Gaddafi's forces.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on a visit to Tunis the United States "will look for a broad base of participation, including from Arab nations".
France, Britain and Lebanon have tabled a draft UN resolution "broadening the scope of sanctions and opening the path for using the necessary means to stop Gaddafi's offensive", said a French foreign ministry statement.
The draft resolution now being negotiated "calls for an immediate ceasefire in Libya and authorises states to take the necessary measures to protect the threatened civilian population, especially in Benghazi", French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.
NATO has already planned for a no-fly zone and its chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged the UN security council to quickly agree on a resolution, warning "time is running out" to stop Gaddafi.
"If Gaddafi prevails, it will send a clear signal that violence pays. That would be unacceptable from a humanitarian and democratic perspective," Rasmussen said.
"NATO stands ready to protect the civilian population if there is a demonstrable need, clear legal basis and strong regional support."
Technical experts held talks on Thursday on a draft resolution drawn up by Britain, France, the United States and Lebanon, acting for the Arab League.
China has opposed military action, Germany has also spoken out against no-fly zones. Russia, India, South Africa and other nations have expressed various degrees of doubts, diplomats said.
Britain, China, France, Russia and the US are permanent members of the council who can veto any resolution.
"It has to be stressed that this resolution could be greatly changed before it comes to a vote," said one Western diplomat at the UN, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Russia had wanted a resolution demanding a ceasefire to be passed first, but this did not get enough backing to go for a vote.
French ambassador Gerard Araud said there was a demand for a ceasefire in the new draft, "with teeth" to back up the threat.
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