By Dan Bilefsky and Mark Landler, New York Times, March 17, 2011
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council voted Thursday to authorize military action, including airstrikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery and a no-fly zone, a risky foreign intervention aimed at averting a bloody rout of rebels by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.
After days of often acrimonious debate, played out against a desperate clock, as Colonel Qaddafi’s troops advanced to within 100 miles of the rebel capital of Benghazi, Libya, the Security Council authorized member nations to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, diplomatic code words calling for military action. (However, the resolution bans ground action, according to the Toronto Star)
Diplomats said the resolution — which passed with 10 votes, including the United States, and abstentions from Russia, China, Germany, Brazil and India — was written in sweeping terms to allow for a wide range of actions, including strikes on air-defense systems and missile attacks from ships. Military activity could get under way within a matter of hours, they said.
Benghazi erupted in celebration at news of the resolution’s passage. “We are embracing each other,” said Imam Bugaighis, spokeswoman for the rebel council in Benghazi. “The people are euphoric. Although a bit late, the international society did not let us down.”
There was no immediate comment from the Libyan government. But the vote, which came after rising calls for help from the Arab world and anguished debate in Washington, left unanswered many critical questions about who would take charge, what role the United States would play and whether there was still enough time to stop Colonel Qaddafi from recapturing Benghazi and crushing a rebellion that had once seemed likely to drive him from power. After the vote, President Obama met with the National Security Council to discuss the possible options, European officials said.
While the people of Benghazi celebrate this news, and Canada agrees to send six F-18 Fighter Jets as part of the coalition that will impose the resolution, which goes far beyond a mere no-fly zone, to permit a vitual all-out attack against the Libyan dictator, once again 75% of the force for the application of this resolution will come from the U.S.
Effectively, that puts the U.S. at war with another Islamic state (a third), although the Arab League did participate in the request for the resolution, now known as Resolution #1973, for those keeping notes.
Don't look for the Libyan dictator to surrender any time soon; in fact, before the news gets better for the rebels and the coalition forces, it will likely get worse, in that the dictator will increase his attacks, and we will hear reports of serious casualties among the rebels, before either the dictator's senior officers, both political and military begin to defect, or to wage a coup, of the coalition actually attacks all of the dictator's locations, political, military and domestic, and forces him out or kills him.