Security Council Uncertain About Intervening in Libyahttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/
The United Nations Security Council remained divided on Tuesday over a proposed draft resolution that calls for a no-flight zone over Libya and authorizes the use of force to halt the bombing of civilians by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.
Diplomats said the resolution, which will be debated by the Security Council on Wednesday, called for the 15-member body to authorize a ban on all flights in Libyan airspace and for member states to “take all necessary measures to enforce compliance.” All flights from outside Libya suspected of bringing arms into the country would also be banned.
The resolution also calls for the tightening of sanctions against Libya, including adding more names to the list of Libyan officials who face international travel bans. It also calls for expanding the list of individuals and financial institutions close to Colonel Qaddafi that would have their assets frozen. On Feb. 26 the Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Libya and referred the government’s actions o the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible crimes against humanity.
But diplomats said the council was far from a consensus on the resolution, with China, Russia and Germany expressing reservations and the United States, with its military already committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, cautious about endorsing any action that could overstretch its capacity. Diplomats said the United States, which would play a key role in implementing any no-flight zone, was concerned that the measure might not be sufficient to halt Mr. Qaddafi. American officials have also said they were reluctant to initiate military action against another Muslim nation.
A no-flight zone was adopted by the United Nations in the early 1990s during the war in Bosnia, but proved ineffective in preventing some of the worst atrocities there — a fact that diplomats said has been seized upon by skeptics in recent days as the debate has intensified.
Diplomats said the United States and other members of the Security Council were determined that the Arab League should play a leading role in implementing any no-flight zone and that its role was explicit in the draft resolution.
Russia, which has often opposed Security Council resolutions that it thinks impinge on another country’s domestic affairs, has insisted that serious questions remain about how a no-flight zone would operate and who would enforce it.
Lebanon, the council’s only current Arab member, presented the Arab League’s request to the council to authorize a no-flight zone to protect Libyan civilians. Lebanese diplomats said that authorizing the no-flight zone had become urgent as Col. Qaddafi’s forces continued to advance.
Nawaf Salam, Lebanon’s ambassador, contended that such a zone did not constitute foreign intervention in Libya, even as he acknowledged that enforcing it would likely require the use of force. He said Lebanon was examining specific areas in Libya where civilians could be protected and corridors for safe passage could be established.
“We hope that no need for military force will be required,” he said. “Nothing is too late. But it may not be enough.”
French officials, who have been pressing for a no-flight zone and played a leading role, with Britain, in drafting the resolution, said they were cautiously optimistic that the resolution would pass. But they also expressed concern that time was running out.“We are deeply distressed by the fact that things are worsening on the ground and that Qaddafi’s forces are moving forward extremely quickly and this council has not reacted,” said Gerard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United Nations. “The goal is to prevent Qaddafi from bombing his own people.”